International Symposium on Japanese Studies in Global Contexts

Open Japan Closed Japan: Towards Interdisciplinary Studies in Human Mobility

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Criminalizing the Movement of People: A Deconstruction of the Governance of Trafficking and Smuggling

Alexandria J. Innes, University of East Anglia

Growing global social movements have directed attention to human trafficking (primarily trafficking in women for sexual exploitation), the covert movement of people across borders, and the continued existence of human slavery. The increase in covert movement across borders in particular has been linked to ever growing immigration restrictions in advanced industrialized states that preclude legal movement for asylum seekers, refugees and other forced migrants. Measures to then prevent illicit movement include carrier sanctions, criminal penalties for moving people across borders without inspection and even criminal penalties for assisting asylum seekers. This shift to criminality as the mode of governing the movement of people arguably produces covert populations and creates particular vulnerabilities. Japan has been criticized by the US Department of State for failing to shift to the criminalization model to deal with trafficking and smuggling. This research will analyse the network of actors at work in Japan that confront trafficking, smuggling and exploitation. Attending to the alternative and decentralized governing processes in Japan will offer a means of deconstructing the criminalization model that has been popular in the US and Europe. A discourse analysis of anti-trafficking and smuggling networks in Japan will consider alternative practices that can be understood as diffuse processes of governing trafficking and smuggling that stand in contrast to the criminalization model.

Short Biography

Alexandria Innes is a Lecturer of International Relations at the University of East Anglia. She has published on the politics of asylum in Europe and the security aspects of migration towards Europe, including work in Security Dialogue, International Relations, Global Society and Journal of Contemporary European Studies. Her research is informed by feminism and postcolonialism in IR, using ethnographic methods to foreground experiential knowledge in international relations, and she is particularly interested in the lived experience of migration. Alexandria is the author of Migration, citizenship and the challenge for security: An ethnographic approach (London: Palgrave, 2015).