Crossing Legal Boundaries through International Marriage and Migration: Analysis of Japanese Women's Oral Histories
This article examines the experience of crossing legal, political, and socio-cultural boundaries by Japanese migrant women in international marriages in Australia. The data is drawn from oral history interviews with 16 Japanese women living in Australia and married to Australian citizens or permanent residents. Australia is one of the most popular destinations for Japanese emigrants. For Japanese women in particular, applying for permanent residency as a spouse of an Australian citizen or permanent resident has been a popular settlement path. I analyze the women's negotiations between their perceptions of socio-legal systems constructed in Japan and their newly experienced social reality in Australia. The women's negotiations reflect their individual ways of crossing boundaries. Their practices of the Japanese socio-legal custom of changing one's surname at the time of legal marriage provide a focus for the article. I argue that individuals' experiences of crossing boundaries are shaped by, and embedded in, their personal histories constructed in their land of origin. In this sense, their act of 'crossing' means creating a connection between both sides whereby the rigidity of these boundaries is blurred.