Cross-Border Marriages as a Side Door for Paid and Unpaid Migrant Workers

The Case of Marriage Migration between China and Japan

Author: Helene Le Bail


Cross-border marriages between Chinese and Japanese over the past twenty years have expanded in scale and taken on new forms. The special case of Japan lies in the implication of local authorities in the promotion of these marriages, locating the matrimonial migratory route at the crossroads of familial migration and work migration from the point of view of both the migrants themselves and the host communities. Marriage migrants in Japan are one of the variations of the transfer of a feminine workforce to ensure reproductive work. While migratory policies in Japan have generally appealed to side doors for unqualified immigration, the local authorities have helped create extra side doors via marriage to provide support in the context of the restructuring of reproductive work. Migrant wives also represent a potential salaried foreign workforce especially in peripheral zones which have difficulty attracting migrants. An analysis of the participation of these migrants in both reproductive and productive work (remunerated or not) enables us to better apprehend the contemporary debate that feminized migratory routes tend to reinforce patriarchal norms.

Regions: East Asia
Countries: China | Japan

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© Arthur Jones, PhD