Creating ‘my space’: Lived Experiences of Japanese Women in Singapore | Amsterdam University Press Journals Online


This paper focuses on the lived experiences of Japanese women in Singapore. Set in the context of research on gender and transnational migration, the phenomenon of Japanese women moving overseas justifies more attention as the feminization trend of Japanese overseas started since around 2000 has become a more definite trend today. In contrast with economic migration, Japanese women’s transnational mobility is perceived as lifestyle migration in the literature, where dissatisfaction with gender inequality at work and social pressure to get married were among the main factors pushing the women out of Japan. In this paper, we draw on qualitative data of 52 female respondents (aged 20s to 80s) to explore their lived experiences in Singapore. We examine how Japanese migrant women negotiate their identity and maintain their distinct emotional space through the creation of the so-called ‘my space’ within a foreign environment. We also discuss the ambivalence and liminality of ‘my space’ which could be endangered by external factors, such as changing state policy in host society and caregiving needs back home. We content that the symbolic maintenance of ‘my space’ plays a salient role in giving meaning and support to their daily life, enabling the women to negotiate and strategize their identity as a Japanese through the perception of their role in bridging Japan and Singapore. It also enables them to maintain their sense of Japanese-ness in the multi-cultural environment. This paper hopes to deepen our understanding of the lived experiences of Japanese migrants in Singapore and beyond as well as to further explore ‘my space’ as a viable framework.


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