Research Student: Dr Usamard Siampukdee
Migrant Care Workers and Japan's Aging Crisis: Policy Changes and the Partnership Agreement with ASEAN
This paper focuses on the consequences of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) on policy change towards migrant care workers in Japan. Japan started to engage in regional economic integration with China, South Korea and ASEAN countries in 2002 as part of creating an East Asian Community to strengthen regional economies after the financial crisis of 1997. Japan's EPA with ASEAN countries, concerns the Movement of Natural Persons (MNP), particularly nurses and care-workers, from the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam. Beyond economic regionalism and market interdependence, the influx of migrant care-workers into Japan is apparently determined by their growing demographic dilemma. Japan has been facing the challenge of a hyper-aging society since the 1970s, and this will reach a peak in 2050 when one third of the population will be aged 60 or more. This demographic projection has driven policy makers to respond in different ways, and played a central role in driving labour market negotiations within the region. The paper thus examines the policy intentions behind the MNP regarding nurses and care-workers, evaluates its effectiveness in delivering a solution to Japan’s aging crisis and explores the policy’s practical constraints.