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The problem of migration policies and ethnic heterogeneity presents an interesting research topic for numerous historians. In her article, Morris-Suzuki analyzes the issue in question, studying the situation in post-war Japan with attention to such trends as “cultural separation” and the reduction of ethnic diversity (6). The work being discussed runs counter to common opinions concerning the underlying causes of Japan’s separation from the world in the post-war era.
In terms of research questions and methods, the article focuses on strict migration policies in Japan after the Second World War, identifying their causes with the help of a case study. In her work, Morris-Suzuki criticizes modern researchers’ willingness to make generalizations to understand the real causes of Japan’s separation in the second half of the 20th century (6). To prove the effectiveness of her approach that emphasizes proceeding from the particular to the general, she presents the case of Omura Immigration Detention Center established in 1950 to work with “interning Korean deportees” (Morris-Suzuki 7).
To answer the research questions related to the contribution of the Cold War to Japan’s migration policies, the paper provides a range of verifiable facts about the work of the center, which acts as an advantage. However, the ability to use situational conclusions to explain the complex phenomenon of migration rules in Japan may need to be called into question.
The significance of the work is evident if attention is paid to scientific novelty. Using the case of the mentioned institution, the researcher argues that the position of post-war Japan in relation to immigration cannot be attributed to the manifestations of Japanese people’s cultural features. Unlike her colleagues, the author links Japanese policies to external factors such as foreign relations during the Cold War, which makes her article public outrage.
On the one hand, the inductive approach taken by the professor allows bringing some previously unknown facts to the attention of other scholars, thus revealing new aspects to the problem. On the other hand, the tendency to concentrate on some isolated cases to dispose of the arguments put forward by many researchers is rightly criticized in scientific communities and attributed to mosaic thinking.
When it comes to arguments, the author denies the prevalence of cultural factors in decision-making related to migration. Apart from presenting specific facts about the functions of immigration centers in post-war Japan, the article critically analyzes the arguments of scholars who regard increases in legislative pressure only as a means of cultural preservation. In spite of that, she manages to take a broader look at the political and economic situation in Japan to shift the focus of attention from overestimated “outgrowth of national culture” to the country’s economic interests during the Cold War (Morris-Suzuki 13).
According to another important argument presented by Morris-Suzuki, xenophobia was common in post-war Japan, but it was nothing more than a result of wars, external influences, and the promotion of “the attitudes of superiority” by Japanese elites (13). Therefore, in her arguments, the author proves her point without denying the role of some culture-based components in migration policies.
As for evidence, the researcher uses a variety of high-quality sources by Japanese- and English-speaking authors who specialize in history, political studies, and other fields. The use of numerous historical documents also demonstrates the author’s responsible attitudes to argumentation. The professor provides statistical data about deported people throughout the article. Unfortunately, it cannot be excluded that some estimations taken from other sources have implicit purposes related to the resolution of international strives.
To summarize, the analyzed article takes a fresh look at the causes of strict migration policies in Japan after the Second World War. The research is significant since it contributes to the dialogue between Japan and other countries that criticize its political line of the past. Despite potential biases, the author acknowledges the role of xenophobic rhetoric in the decisions of post-war Japan but does not recognize elitism as a cultural trait.
Morris-Suzuki, Tessa. “The Wilder Shores of Power: Migration, Border Controls and Democracy in Postwar Japan.” Thesis Eleven, vol. 86, no. 1, 2006, pp. 6-22.