Social Issues, Policy Changes, and the Future: Migration of Healthcare Workers from Southeast Asia to Japan

Monday, 11 July 2016
Location: Hörsaal 10 (Juridicum)
Distributed Paper
Chika SHINOHARA, Momoyama Gakuin University, Japan
Healthcare workers from Southeast Asia have begun working as professional nurses and certified care workers in Japanese hospitals and care institutions. They are privately arrived long-residing immigrants from Thailand and the Philippines and newly arrived nurses and care workers from Indonesia, the Philippines, and Vietnam under the Economic Partnership Agreement legal framework. And currently, another policy planning with the Technical Intern Training Program is taking place to train those from developing Asia as future elderly care specialists to work at care homes. What skills and experiences do the different groups of these migrant healthcare workers have to gain for their work in Japan? What issues have emerged and policy changes have taken place around the migration of healthcare workers? How are they managed and policies designed? Analyses of media reports, government sources, and interviews with experts show the ways in which inequalities permeate such skilled workers. The definitions of equality differ among different groups. Yet, with the growing demand for healthcare workers, some problems have been negotiated and workers’ voices have been reflected into the policy. Nonetheless, the feelings of and actual inequalities persists in the qualification ratings for professional licensing between the migrant workers and non-migrants. Two major challenges emerge for the future: 1) migrant workers’ rights and their “rights consciousness” and 2) possible persisting inequalities not only between the Japanese and migrant healthcare workers and but also among skilled migrant workers who are licensed and unlicensed. This study contributes to the literature in sociology of healthcare, professional work, and social stratification in globalization.