Shifting Modes of Incorporating Foreign Care Workers in Japan: Abe's Growth Strategy and the Intensification of Japanese Women's Mobilization As Productive and Reproductive

Wednesday, 13 July 2016: 11:15
Location: Hörsaal 34 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Ruri ITO, Hitotsubashi University, Tokyo, Japan
In Japan, the recourse to the foreign workers to deal with the ever growing needs for elderly care has been on the agenda since early 2000s. The actual change, however, has been relatively slow, due to the political reluctance to introduce foreign workers in general, but also because of the social momentum to professionalize the sector through the newly instituted Long Term Care Insurance, implemented in 2000. 

It was under this circumstance that training programs for certified care workers and nurses started as part of Economic Partnership Agreements with Indonesia (2008), the Philippines (2009), and Vietnam (2014), resulting in a total of some 1,500 certificate holders over the past seven years. The figure is almost insignificant, compared to the currently estimated need for over 300,000 care workers. In 2014, more aggressive measures have been proposed by Abe’s administration, with the aim of deregulating the economy and intensifying women’s labor participation to revitalize Japanese economy, including three policy objectives: the creation of a new residence status within the immigration law for “care workers”, the extension of technical internship program for “elderly care,” and finally, the introduction of foreign domestic workers in the National Strategic Special Zones. 

This paper will discuss the shifting institutional modalities of incorporating foreign care workers in Japan, the underlying stakes with regard to the growing social inequalities within Japanese society and the transformation of Long Term Care Insurance.