Spotlight on Development Research: Kazue Takamura

Faculty Lecturer, ISID

Kazue Takamura’s research is centered on the precarious mobility of migrants from developing countries, with a particular focus on Asia. Her research engages especially with questions of gender and migration, including the reproductive vulnerability of female migrants and the rights of domestic workers, human rights of asylum-seekers, and state policy regarding migrant mobility. Much of Professor Takamura’s research has focused on Filipina migrant women, as well as asylum-seekers in Japan. She is currently working on an edited book project that unpacks the intersection between migrant vulnerabilities, neoliberal promotion of labor flexibility, and punitive immigration laws in Asia.

Recently, in an effort to raise awareness of the plight of detained migrants, Dr. Takamura co-organized a workshop with Japan’s Stateless Network at Waseda University (Tokyo) in July 2017. This workshop was part of a project that looks at immigration detention and human rights of non-status migrants. In April 2017, Prof. Takamura received a research grant from the Toyota Foundation for a project entitled, “Ethnography of Immigration Detention and Migrant Advocacy in Japan and Canada.” The project advances a comparative analysis of immigration detention and the conditions of non-status migrants in Japan and other major labour-receiving countries. It pays attention to the state’s immigration policies, the actual practices of immigration detention and deportation, and the capacity of migrant advocacy groups that challenge the state regarding human rights violations toward non-status migrants. Having conducted extensive interviews with current and former detainees, human rights lawyers, and migrant advocacy groups in Japan, Dr. Takamura found that individuals were detained in a secluded area outside Tokyo on the basis of a policy that allows the government to arrest asylum-seekers upon their arrival in the country. Such a policy runs counter to the Japanese constitution, but is upheld by a strong nationalist ethos.

As an FRQSC Postdoctoral Fellow at McGill’s School of Social Work (2012-14), Dr. Takamura pursued research on Filipina migrant caregivers in Quebec and their distinct vulnerabilities that are inherent in Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program. Through interviews with Filipina migrant caregivers regarding their lived experiences of migration, Dr. Takamura found that immigration policies impose a myriad of structural constraints on migrant caregivers, including slow and inflexible bureaucratic procedures and rejection of overage children and children with health problems or disabilities. Migrant women thus face a costly and emotionally draining permanent residency application process that further exacerbates their vulnerabilities.

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