Filipina Immigrant Girls’ Lived Experience in Japan

Memo #134 – Filipina women, who entered Japan as “entertainers” or as the spouses of Japanese men, sometimes left children behind to be raised by relatives in the Philippines while they built economically viable lives in Japan. More and more, the teenage children of these migrant women are entering Japan, entering Japanese schools, and entering society as an important and recent immigrant youth population. These youth are being reunited with their mothers, beginning lives with unknown step-families, and struggling to learn Japanese – which is often their third or fourth language. Most scholars focus on how immigrant youth are victimized by an assimilationist-oriented education system, with its Japanese-only language policies and hyper-competitive high school entrance exams. But this focus allows only a small glimpse of their lived experience. Continue reading

Becoming a Commercial Marriage Broker in Malaysia

Memo #133 – In the last two decades, East Asian countries have experienced a dramatic rise in international marriages. Much of it is between men in the wealthier countries of Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and Singapore, and women from poorer countries in the region. Among Chinese Malaysians, the number of marriages between the men and Vietnamese women increased from 28 in 2001 to 1,185 in 2005. To explain this increase, the media began to cover the proliferation of commercial matchmaking agencies in the early 2000s. But the role that Vietnamese wives play in the matchmaking business has attracted little attention. Continue reading

South Korea’s Immigrant Incorporation Strategy

Memo #127 – In July 2002, the mayor of Seoul conferred honourary residency status on Guus Hiddink, a Dutch soccer manager who advanced the Korean soccer team to the World Cup quarter finals. In contrast, in October 2009 the government deported Minu, a migrant worker and activist from Nepal, who had lived in Korea for 18 years and had been active in organizing migrant workers. These two vignettes demonstrate how the Korean government treats immigrants differentially. Continue reading

한국정부의 이민자 정책

Memo #127 – 2002년 월드컵의 열기가 채가시기 전인 2002년 7월에, 서울시는 당시 대한민국 축구 국가대표팀 감독이었던 거스 히딩크 감독에게 명예 서울 시민증을 수여했다 반면 2009년 10월 한국에 18년 동안 있으면서 이주노동자 운동에 앞장섰던 네팔인 미누씨를 강제추방했다. 이 두 사건은 한국 정부의 차별적 이주자 정책을 단적으로 보여 준다. Continue reading

The Philippines’ Labour Export Policies – Pros and Cons

Memo #122 – The Central Bank of the Philippines announced recently that despite the global economic crisis, remittances from Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) would hit $20 billion by the end of 2011. This is seven per cent higher than in 2010 and raised foreign exchange reserves to $76 billion, resulting in a $9 billion surplus in the country’s balance of payments. What lies beneath the surface of such good news? Continue reading

Foreign Workers and the Wildfires of Democracy in East Asia

Memo #111 – As democratic movements spread to the Middle East and North Africa, hopeful observers and nervous authoritarian leaders wondered when they will reach Asia. In fact, they already arrived there in the late 1980s. But another East Asian democratic revolution has been taking place over the past decade, brought about by foreign workers. Continue reading

The Middle Mountain of the Xinhai Revolution

Memo #104 – Growing up in Canada, my relatives would always remind me that my family came from the same county as Dr. Sun Yat-sen, the “Father of China”, when I was picked on by other kids because I was Chinese. This seemed like cold comfort. But it turns out that my relatives understood the relationship between the rise of modern China and the role of the overseas Chinese. Continue reading

Self-searching Migrants: Japanese Temporary Residents in Canada in the Age of High Mobility and Self-Reflexivity

Memo #94 – The term “self-searching” (自分探し – jibun-sagashi) has become a cliché in Japan since the early 1990s, when the high-growth period ended. Economic stagnation obliged many new university graduates to get unstable and unfulfilling jobs. Since then, an increasing number of young Japanese have become “self-searching migrants” forming a new category of trans-Pacific migration. Just as migrants around the world have for centuries, Japanese young people are embarking on journeys across the Pacific in search of a professional or personal calling. Continue reading

「自分探し」のグローバル移動: 流動化と自省の時代におけるカナダの日本人一時滞在者たち

Memo #94 – 「自分探し」という語は、1990年代初頭以来、日本であまりに安直に使われてきた決まり文句である。この時期日本ではバブル経済が崩壊し、大卒者でさえ多くが不安定な、やり甲斐のない仕事に就かざるを得なくなった。以来、「自分探しのための移動」をする若者たちは次第に増えていき、太平洋を越えて移動する者たちの中で新カテゴ
リーを形成している。 Continue reading

Indonesian Domestic Workers’ Rights in Malaysia

Memo #75 – Malaysia has experienced a shortage of domestic workers since 2009. This is because Indonesia banned its domestic workers from finding employment in Malaysia, in response to reports of abuse. Negotiations on an inter-state Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to increase labour protection for Indonesian domestic workers have stalled on issues such as minimum wage, days off, and the right of domestic workers to retain their identity documents. The two governments are set to sign the MoU in May 2011, but Malaysia’s recent actions indicate that it may not be entirely committed to the protection of migrant domestic workers. Continue reading