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date: 21 April 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This article investigates different forms of irregularity in immigration to Japan. Despite the demand for migrant labor from the business sector since the 1980s, Japan has never officially opened its door to unskilled labor migration. Instead, the country created unofficial pathways for Japanese employers to employ foreign workers. The irregular use of residential categories became most problematic with regard to the entertainer visa and the Technical Intern Training Program, both of which came to be criticized as forms of government-assisted human trafficking. The flow of unauthorized migrants to Japan has been on decline in the past twenty years, and the numbers of deportations and detentions are also decreasing. The active use of Special Permission to Stay, a discretionary process of indivisualized legalization, appears to be partly accountable for Japan’s shrinking unauthorized population. The lack of transparency in the deportation process and the principle of mandatory detention have been major points of controversy.

Keywords: immigration, deportation, detention, legalization, human trafficking, Japan

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