In this presentation, I will discuss why and how foreign domestic workers find waged labor in Japan where immigration policy has been highly restrictive towards unskilled foreign labor. What are the hiring patterns in a setting where the process of migration is far less institutionalized by the state? Conventional knowledge is that foreign domestic workers come to Japan only when these workers are accompanying diplomats and transnational business expatriates. But I argue that there is another more important pattern, which is women-centered “network-mediated migration”. Based on my survey and interviews with 50 Filipina domestic workers in metropolitan Tokyo, I found that 70% of the workers are hired through “network-mediated migration” primarily based on kinship and friendship ties. By highlighting this gendered personal network-based migration, this study adds to our understanding of how this cross-border mobility of domestic workers is partially sustained by their networks at the destination area. For one, these women-centered personal networks of domestic workers have provided efficacious support to potential migrants and have been crucial in disseminating job information in a situation where there is a highly restrictive immigration policy.
Brenda Resurecion Tiu Tenegra is in her second year (Ph.D. Program) at the Department of Gender Studies, College of Human Developmental Science, Ochanomizu University.