ABSTRACT

In this chapter we examine the social posltlon and individual experiences of single female Japanese expatriates in Singapore. Our contention is that these women are marginalized both from the host Singaporean society and from the large Japanese expatriate community in the island. On the one hand, as expatriates they are positioned on the periphery of Singaporean social structure. They tend to live out their lives - like most expatriates from affluent countries - on the margins of this society and in their own social enclaves. On the other hand, as single working women they are at the margins of the Japanese expatriate community. As women pursuing their occupations and careers they are alienated from most Japanese businessmen who tend to have rather conservative views about the place of women at the workplace. As unmarried women they are also estranged from the wives of these Japanese businessmen who tend to be organized in rather homogeneous and tight-knit circles. The outcome of this situation is twofold: single Japanese working women in Singapore tend to create informal and semi-formal networks of mutual support with each other (and to a very limited extent with a few other expatriate women); and, these networks are situated outside both Singaporean social formations and the organizations of the Japanese expatriate community.