by Sachiko Sone and Leng Leng Thang, 2020 Journal of Japanese Studies. Routledge, Vol. 40, Number 1, p. 41-62
International Retirement Migration (IRM) – which began in Europe and North America in the 1960s – was a concept that first entered Japan in the 1980s, but has become increasingly referred to since the 1990s as long stays/lifestyle migration. As sojourners seeking a better life overseas, Japanese later-life migrants tend to be perceived as temporary stayers and there has been little question about their sense of belonging. In this study, based on a decade of observation and follow up interviews with a small sample of Japanese retiree migrants in Western Australia, we examine how migrants’ decisions to stay or leave the host country are affected by the presence of their children, juxtaposed with their sense of belonging, particularly to their homeland. We identify four types of later-life migrants based on their eventual decision to leave or to stay: ‘the returnee’, the ‘on-going migrant’, ‘the potential settler’ and ‘the new citizen’. From this study, we argue that for later-life migrants who are constantly debating whether or not to remain in the host country until the end of their lives, the process is dynamic and often negotiated through a sustained sense of belonging to their homeland.
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