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Vol. 1 No. 1: June 2020

Policymaking Process for Foreign Care Workers in Contemporary Japan : Changes and Continuations

July 22, 2019


This paper analyzes recent policy reforms made to foreign care work in Japan. The two policy reforms discussed in this paper are 1. The expansion of categories in the Technical Intern Training Program (TITP) and 2. The inclusion of domestic workers into the Japanese labour sector through the use of National Strategic Special Zones. By analyzing these policymaking processes, the following four observations were made salient. 1. That policy reforms were largely driven by economic motivations; 2. That the policymaking processes that determined the nature of these reforms were led by politicians who were acting on behalf of the interests of business leaders; 3. That the Japanese government continues to utilize policies that deny labourers permanent residency or citizenship status, such as temporary worker programs, in order to avoid implementing migration practices that allow workers to become Japanese citizens; and 4. That the government holds contradicting attitudes towards care work, whereby eldercare is increasingly considered professional/skilled work, while domestic work is regarded as low/semi-skilled labour. These findings suggest that Japan’s foreign care immigration policies are designed to recruit temporary workers in ways that violate their human rights for the purpose of exploitation, in addition to the original goal of transferring skills to sending countries. With this in mind, I conclude my paper by arguing that these policymaking processes reproduce a gendered, racialized, and classed international division of labour and a global care chain