This study investigates contemporary Chinese student migrants’ career experiences in corporate Japan and examines their career outcomes under the conditions of an expanding global economy. This paper suggests that an occupational niche for Chinese students has emerged in Japanese firms. This occupational niche is consisted of a set of corporate positions that specifically deal with businesses in China. Firms preferentially recruit Chinese student migrants to fill these positions. And consequently that is where the majority of Chinese students take up employment.
This paper discusses the mechanisms for shaping such an immigrant occupational niche and the opportunities and constraints it brings to Chinese students in Japan. By examining Chinese student migrants’ employment characteristics and career mobility, this study discusses the paradoxical effects the existence of an occupational niche has on Chinese students. I argue that it provides an access for immigrants to enter a previously inaccessible labor market. However, the existence of an immigrant occupational niche itself reflects the institutional, structural and cultural barriers persisting in the “host” society.
Gracia Liu-Farrer is an assistant professor of sociology at Ochanomizu University, Japan. Her research examines the economic, social and emotional lives of contemporary Chinese immigrants in Japan. She is currently investigating Chinese migrants' transnational labor market practices, career mobility, and the issues of racial and gender stratifications emerging in the transnational labor market between Japan and China. She can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.