Kobayashi, T.（小林哲郎）, Collet, C., Iyengar, S., & Hahn, K. S. (2015). Who Deserves Citizenship? An Experimental Study of Japanese Attitudes Toward Immigrant Workers. 市民権付与にふさわしいのは誰？－移民労働者に対する日本人の態度に関する実験的研究 Social Science Japan Journal, 18(1), 3-22. doi: 10.1093/ssjj/jyu035
Citizenship eligibility has emerged as a salient issue in Japan as population diversity has increased and the political system has aligned around debates over regional security and tabunka kyōsei (‘multicultural co-existence’). A predominantly Western literature suggests that sentiments toward immigrants are driven by economic self-interest and/or cultural identity. Such approaches, we argue, privilege groups as units of analysis when it is the personal attributes of immigrants that have a bearing on critical outcomes, like naturalization. This is particularly the case in Japan, where officials maintain considerable discretionary powers in assessing the worthiness of candidates for naturalization. Drawing upon a nationally representative sample of Japanese adults, we use an experimental design to assess the average citizen’s willingness to grant citizenship to hypothetical applicants. The results indicate that individual applicants are viewed more favorably than their groups or nations of origin, indicating a person-positivity bias. Korean workers are, ceteris paribus, viewed more favorably than workers from China. We also find that socioeconomic status and willingness to assimilate contribute equally to the decision to award citizenship. Yet as there is general support for high-status applicants, affluent Japanese evaluate lower status applicants more negatively, undermining the expectation of labor market competition.