The Chinese in Japan show two curious characteristics. First, they object to being called ‘immigrants’. Instead, they embrace the identity ‘New Overseas Chinese’, a label invented and popularized by the Chinese in Japan. Second, they prefer permanent residency over naturalization. Although it is generally considered easier to obtain Japanese citizenship than permanent residency, three times as many Chinese immigrants applied and obtained permanent residency as Japanese citizenships between 2003 and 2007. This chapter argues that both the choice of ‘New Overseas Chinese’ identity and the preference for permanent residency in Japan speaks of the Chinese migrants’ desire to maintain a flexible cross-border living and are in congruence with their transnational outlooks. It shows that such desire and outlooks are shaped by the intersections of the social and cultural contexts of Japan and supported by the expanding transnational economy between Japan and China. On the one hand, Chinese migrants’ identifications and transnational outlooks represent their strategies to overcome their marginality in a society they perceive as resistant to immigration and closed to outsiders. On the other hand, Chinese migrants, especially skilled migrants, typically employ their Chinese cultural and linguistic skills in the Japanese labor market and occupy economic positions that have to do with businesses in China. Moreover, with the expanding global economy, the recent Chinese migrants in Japan have begun to interact with older and well-established global overseas Chinese networks. Their economic roles and practices further strengthen their identity as ‘New Overseas Chinese’.
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