Aging Women Migrants and Trans/National Citizenship in Japan

Monday, 16 July 2018: 10:45
Oral Presentation
Johanna ZULUETA, Soka University, Tokyo, Japan
This paper looks at aging migrants in Japan, particularly focusing on the Filipino population, currently the third largest migrant group in Japan. While Philippine migration to Japan occurred since the pre-war years, the largest migration stream to the country was seen beginning in the late 1970s to the early 1980s, with the entry of females to work in the entertainment industry. Several years later, these women married Japanese men and began to have families, with a large number of them choosing to settle in their host country. These women have now reached their 50s and 60s and their children have become adults.

For this exploratory study, I look at the Catholic Church community in Japan and how it plays into these women’s lives. More specifically, I look into the issue of trans/national citizenship among these women in the context of the church community and church participation. Unlike other migrants who are known to occupy enclaves and migrant communities, Filipinos do not occupy such; rather most of them converge in churches and centres of worship, mostly on Sundays. While legal and permanent residents in Japan enjoy social citizenship to a certain extent, for this study I examine how church participation has enabled these aging migrants to engage in trans/national citizenship practices that addressed other needs (i.e. spiritual, emotional) that may not available to them in the host country.

For this study, I look at the case of these women in the Tokyo metropolitan area. Analyses are based on key informant interviews of church personnel, as well as the Filipino women themselves. This study aims to re-think notions of citizenship and migration through examining the case of aging women migrants.