Accepted Paper:

Reconsidering communities and the mobility of marriage migrant women in rural areas of Japan  


Sunhee Lee (Tohoku University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper considers the mobility of marriage migrant women who are married to Japanese men in northeastern Japan and how such mobility is perceived by the local communities. Through this discussion, the paper examines the emergence of a "transnational community" formed by marriage migrant women.

Paper long abstract:

This paper considers the high mobility of marriage migrant women observed in northeastern Japan. In rural areas of the Northeast, in order to solve the problems of shortages of brides and successors to households, international matchmaking marriage became common from the mid-1980s onward.

However, the divorce rate of international matchmaking marriages is high, as many women divorce their husbands and leave the region to escape their roles as "brides". In this context, the "runaway brides" discourse has emerged and become firmly established among the people of the regions in question. Marriage migrant women are seen by the locals as unable to get used to their husband and his family, and run away in many cases. This local perception has constrained marriage migrants' mobility to a considerable extent.

However, for marriage migrant women, mobility is inevitable. This is because they need to cross national boundaries in order to fulfill their familial roles both within their families in law and their own families. In some cases, mobility has also become a life strategy. Migrant women try to solve the problems with which they are confronted within the host society by taking advantage of the ability to move across national boundaries. This paper examines the mobility of married migrant women and how the receiving communities perceive such mobility through case studies in the rural areas of the Northeast of Japan. In doing so, the paper also sheds light on the emerging transnational communities formed by marriage migrant women within the region.

Panel P006
Global intimacies, local ties: the transformation of cross-border marriages in Asia (CLOSED- 4)