Society for Urban, National and Transnational/Global Anthropology
Oral Presentation Session
Kinship is an increasingly precious resource for those migrants who wish to settle in the wealthier countries in the Global North. This is especially the case in East Asia where, under the reign of jus sanguinis, many polities conflate national belonging with the work of shared blood.
This paper examines how this seemingly nationalist logic of one blood has in practice enabled the long-term settlement of two foreign migrant groups in contemporary Japan: Brazilians and Filipinos. The former mostly comprises Japanese Brazilians who return-migrated on the ancestry-based visa; the source of kinship that the state acknowledges as worthy thus originates from the Japanese emigrant families in the past. The latter mostly consists of Filipina women who have secured stable visa status by marrying and/or bearing offspring of Japanese men; the kinship that legitimates their right of sojourn, therefore, is based on their ability to reproduce the body politic for the future—what some call “reproductive citizenship.” Even though the idea of the “Japanese blood” underlies the moral entitlements to citizenship for both groups, one is derived from the past and the other is oriented toward the future.
Interestingly, both groups have been the target of recruitment from Japanese staffing agencies and municipalities that are trying to address the labor shortage issue in eldercare with the mobilization of local resident aliens. Based on 16 months of fieldwork in Japan, this paper analyzes the similarities and differences between the two groups through the lens of care work.