Research has revealed that migrants are incorporated differently in the care sector according to the intersection of migration-care regime nexus. Japan’s care sector went through significant structural change in 2000 due to the Long-Term Care Insurance (LTCI). The care market has expanded rapidly, resulting in a chronic shortage of care workers and migrant workers started to work in the old age care sector in the past ten years. The first wave of migrants came under the bilateral Economic Partnership Agreement between Southeast Asian Countries and Japan, followed by consecutive waves of deregulation of migration regimes. The presentation looks into the structural transformation of the care sector and the negotiation by the migrant care workers. The care facilities were initially worried and reluctant to employ migrants, but the acceptance turned out to be relatively smooth without any major conflicts or incidents. Through interviews with both care facilities and migrants, this presentation argues that this counterintuitive outcome results from the interaction between policy framework and constant dialogue within the space of care where migrants are transforming the rigid Japanese organizational rules. As the dependence towards migrant care workers increases, to ensure the well-being of migrants becomes the key factor for them to settle.
Reiko Ogawa is a professor in the Graduate School of Social Sciences at Chiba University. Her research interest is on migration, gender and civil society. She serves as a board member for the Japan Association for Migration Policy Studies, chairperson of Gender Equality Committee of Chiba City, Refugee Counselor of Ministry of Justice, and representative of Chiba Studies on Migration and Refugees. Some of her on-going projects includes creating a checklist of supervising organizations dispatching migrants to care facilities in Tokyo, developing training materials for Japanese care workers who work with foreign staff, and a research project on specified skilled workers (SSW) of the Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare. Some of her publication includes: “When Local Meets Global: The Changing Face of Old-Age Care in Japan” in Eds. Horn, V. et al., The Global Old Age Care Industry (Palgrave Macmillan, 2021), “Making of Migrant Care Workers in East Asia” in Eds. Jeon, Y. et al., Routledge Handbook on Gender in East Asia (Routledge, 2020), “Use and Abuse of Trafficking Discourse in Japan”, Journal of Population and Social Studies, 2020, 28:106–125 and a co-edited book entitled Gender, Care and Migration in East Asia (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018).
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