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Deutsches Institut für Japanstudien


Deutsches Institut für Japanstudien
3-3-6 Kudan-Minami, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 102-0074
Tel: 03 – 3222 5198, Fax: 03 – 3222 5420


Registration Info

The presentation will be given in English. The DIJ Social Science Study Group is a forum for young scholars and Ph.D. candidates in the field of Social Sciences. As always, all are welcome to attend, but please register by June 26th with Harald Conrad

Foreign Domestic Workers Under Japan's "Closed-Door" Immigration Policy

June 27, 2003 / 6.30 P.M.

Brenda Resurecion Tiu Tenegra, Ochanomizu University

Today there is a growing academic interest in paid domestic workers, but why and how this gendered and marginalized sector crosses international borders and what kind of residence status is accorded to the workers at the new destination areas is still not widely explored.
In this presentation, I will discuss why and how foreign domestic workers find waged labor in Japan where immigration policy has been highly restrictive towards unskilled foreign labor. What are the hiring patterns in a setting where the process of migration is far less institutionalized by the state? Conventional knowledge is that foreign domestic workers come to Japan only when these workers are accompanying diplomats and transnational business expatriates. But I argue that there is another more important pattern, which is women-centered “network-mediated migration”. Based on my survey and interviews with 50 Filipina domestic workers in metropolitan Tokyo, I found that 70% of the workers are hired through “network-mediated migration” primarily based on kinship and friendship ties. By highlighting this gendered personal network-based migration, this study adds to our understanding of how this cross-border mobility of domestic workers is partially sustained by their networks at the destination area. For one, these women-centered personal networks of domestic workers have provided efficacious support to potential migrants and have been crucial in disseminating job information in a situation where there is a highly restrictive immigration policy.

Brenda Resurecion Tiu Tenegra is in her second year (Ph.D. Program) at the Department of Gender Studies, College of Human Developmental Science, Ochanomizu University.