Previous research on Europeans in Japan

This post introduces my previous research on European migration to Japan which is summarized in my latest book Migration, Whiteness, and Cosmopolitanism – Europeans in Japan published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2016.

About the book

This book analyzes the increase in contemporary European migration to Japan, its causes and the lives of Europeans in Japan. It aims to deconstruct the picture of Europeans (and in extension Westerners) as highly skilled, privileged, cosmopolitan elites that can be frequently seen in popular imagination as well as in scholarship. The book focuses on the case of Europeans rather than Westerners migrating to a highly developed, non-Western country as Japan, and it offers new insights on increasing diversity in migration and its outcomes for integration of migrants in Japan. The book is based on interviews with 57 subjects from various parts of Europe occupying various positions within Japanese society. In three parts, the book explores the following questions:

  • What are the motivations for choosing Japan?
  • How do white migrants enjoy the ‘privilege’ based on their race and what are its limits?
  • To what extent are the social worlds of such migrants characterized by cosmopolitanism rather than ethnicity?

The book is available in e-book, soft- and hard-cover formats from the publisher, amazon or other major booksellers.


David Chiavacci, Asian Studies Review, Vol. 15 (1), 2018

“Debnár presents to us a fine and well-thought-out qualitative study on European immigrants in contemporary Japan, and successfully questions many superfluous images of white migration to Japan and other countries outside the West. … Debnár’s book is surely the best-available study on current Western migration to Japan. It raises many important issues in migration research about Japan and beyond.”

Rotem Kowner, Monumenta Nipponica, Vol. 73 (1), 2018

Migration, Whiteness, and Cosmopolitanism is more than just a case study on global migration in the twenty-first century. The book’s seven chapters offer an up-to-date look at fascinating aspects of Japanese society as well as the country’s intercultural relations and its unending love-hate relationship with the West.”

Helena Hof, Social Science Japan Journal, Vol. 20 (2), 2017

“Migration, Whiteness, and Cosmopolitanism: Europeans in Japan offers a fascinating insight into the migration experiences of a heterogenous group of Europeans in contemporary Japan. … Migration, Whiteness, and Cosmopolitanism: Europeans in Japan is an outstanding contribution to the diversifying picture of migration in Japan and the dynamics and possibilities of white migration in general.”