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Multilevel governance, community and emergency management during the pandemic: migrants in Japan

Deborah J. Milly (Department of Political Science, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Virginia, USA)

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy

ISSN: 0144-333X

Article publication date: 3 January 2023

Issue publication date: 24 April 2023




Building on perspectives from the study of multilevel governance, migrants' inclusion and emergency management, this article asks how differences across national regulations for foreign residents, work eligibility and access to national emergency supports intersected with local approaches in responding to migrants.


This article examines national policy adjustments and parallel subnational governance early in the pandemic for three groups of foreign residents: international students, technical interns and co-ethnics with long-term visas, primarily Brazilians and Peruvians. It uses Japanese-language documents to trace national policy responses. To grasp subnational governance, the article analyzes coverage in six Japanese regional newspapers from northern, central and western Japan, for the period of April 1 to October 1, 2020.


National policies obstructed or enabled migrants' treatment as members of the local community but did not dictate this membership, which varied according to migrant group. Migrants' relationship to the community affected available supports.


The article brings together perspectives on multilevel governance, emergency management and migrants' inclusion. It exposes how different migrant groups' ties to the local community affected access to supports.



The author is grateful to the editor of this special issue, Lisa Berntsen, and to Petra Aigner, Almina Bešić, Stefania Marino and two anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments on earlier versions of this article.


Milly, D.J. (2023), "Multilevel governance, community and emergency management during the pandemic: migrants in Japan", International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, Vol. 43 No. 3/4, pp. 384-401.



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