Scientific article
Open access

Whither the Liberal Democratic Model? Immigration Politics in Switzerland and Japan

ContributorsLavenex, Sandraorcid
Published inSchweizerische Zeitschrift für Politikwissenschaft, vol. 10, no. 3, p. 179-209
Publication date2004

A comparison of Japan's and Switzerland's immigration policies disclaims both globalist and public choice explanations that would predict a similar increase in immigrant numbers and an expansion of immigrant rights in liberal democracies. Although both countries have traditionally espoused a rather exclusionary approach towards immigration, Japan is unique in having hitherto succeeded in preempting large numbers of immigrants from entering the country and in having avoided the legal and societal integration of those migrants already present in its territory. In seeking to explain the different trajectories followed by immigration politics in Japan and Switzerland, despite their similar internal and external economic constellations, this article highlights the role of domestic institutions and norms in filtering economic pressure for immigration. Whereas these internal determinants explain to a large degree why Switzerland has become a country of immigration while Japan has not, the central factor explaining the recent expansion of foreign residents' rights in Switzerland lies not so much in internal determinants but in the country‘s progressing approximation to the European Union and its single market. Notwithstanding these differences, the article concludes that Japan‘s greater resistance to change might now have reached a critical juncture, where demographic pressure and economic demand will make an opening up to increased labor migration unavoidable.

  • Europeanization
  • Immigration policy
  • New institutionalism
  • Public choice
Citation (ISO format)
LAVENEX, Sandra. Whither the Liberal Democratic Model? Immigration Politics in Switzerland and Japan. In: Schweizerische Zeitschrift für Politikwissenschaft, 2004, vol. 10, n° 3, p. 179–209. doi: 10.1002/j.1662-6370.2004.tb00036.x
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ISSN of the journal1424-7755

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