Discussion Papers

No.594 DANGEROUS UNIONS: Mapping Human Smuggling and Human Trafficking in International Marriage Through Japan’s Legal Response

by Douglas MacLean, J.D.

March 2016


This working paper explores human smuggling and human trafficking through international marriage. It focuses on Japan’s criminal justice response, while examining the major stakeholders involved in this activity. The paper focuses on the time period from 2008-2013.
International marriages, particularly commercially brokered arrangements, have rapidly increased throughout East and Southeast Asia, with more women from less developed countries moving to richer destinations. The increasing prevalence of brokered marriages, and the overall numbers of marriage migrants, provides cover for criminal organizations to smuggle labor migrants on false marriages, and to send some migrants into what are clearly human trafficking situations.

Keywords: human trafficking, human smuggling, criminal justice, migration, Japan
JEL classification: F15, O14, O30

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