In late August, newly elected Tokyo Gov Yuriko Koike attended a meeting of the Council of National Strategic Special Zones, at which she supported visa deregulation to enable foreigners to engage in housekeeping services. Government approval, expected within this year, will make Tokyo the third prefecture in Japan to adopt this system, following Kanagawa and Osaka.
Such services would include cooking, laundry, cleaning, child care and other forms of housework.
"The special zone system to permit entry of foreign domestic workers aims at reducing the burden of housework, enabling more females to join the labor force," a reporter from a nationally circulated newspaper tells Shukan Jitsuwa (Oct 6). "It is being enthusiastically promoted by the Abe government."
In an exception to previous stipulations to the Immigration Control Law, foreign nationals engaging in housekeeping services would have legal resident status, which would enable those in the special zones to be hired directly and work anywhere in the capital.
But journalist Masaki Kubota has some reservations about how this system is likely to turn out.
"Stated simply, the law allows the import of unskilled foreign workers. As we can see already from the admission of care providers, many who perform these jobs are Filipinos. But as Asian countries are becoming more affluent, most of the ones most likely to come to Japan will be those who are desperately poor," he said.
Even if such workers learn the Japanese language, the magazine notes, it's understood they will not possess usable skills.
"After their work is completed, it's unlikely that they'll return home," Kubota warns. "Instead we're likely to see a flood of overstayers, the overwhelming share of which will be female. And the jobs they find are likely to be in the entertainment business or prostitution. If that comes to pass, it'll be just like the previous situation with the 'Japayuki-san.'"
"Japayuki-san" refers to mostly Asian women who came to work in Japan during the economic bubble two decades ago, and fell victim to sex traffickers, many of whom had ties to organized crime. The word derives from "Karayuki-san," Japanese women who were sent abroad to work in brothels from the late 19th century. "Kara," meaning China, is written with the same character as Tang in Tang Dynasty, but Japan's "Karayuki-san" also plied their trade in Southeast Asia, Manchuria, the Russian Far East and even British India.
Kubota continues: "As it can be presumed the Japanese government intends to use and discard the workers, I suppose this will result in the creation of a latter-day version of the Japayuki-san, perhaps under even worse circumstances."
This is going to result in lots of problems, Shukan Jitsuwa opines gravely.© Japan Today