This study examines a set of political forces that may influence the evolving Japanese response to low-skilled foreign migrant workers. Using a perspective of comparative institutions, the study asks how government and nongovernmental activities outside of the central government structure can have an impact on central policy and its implementation. It builds on work the author has done concerning central government policy on the issue. At the level of local government, the study compares three local governments to assess factors influencing how, and on what bases, officials uphold the rights of alien, whatever their status. At the transnational level, the study examines the role of emergent networks in the Asian re ion both networks of policy specialists and networks of issue-oriented organizations.