The rapid industrialization of countries in East Asia and the resulting labor shortage is challenging established theories in research on migration policy. Studies argue that the persistence of temporary inclusion of migrants in this region contests the liberal convergence thesis, which suggests that democratization inevitably leads to more open migration policies. This article revisits the theoretical debate with attention to conceptual equivalence across time and space. In a comparative policy study of South Korea and Japan, we examine the development of temporary labor migration programs (Employment Permit System and Specified Skilled Worker program) and demonstrate how the two countries alternately intersect and diverge throughout time and across dimensions of policy. The findings challenge path dependent theories of migration policy and highlight the significance of historically informed and empirically equivalent analysis of migration policies.
Sardar Ahmed Shah, Osaka University, Japan
Felicia Istad, Korea University, South Korea
See this presentation on the full schedule – Thursday Schedule