MMN Releases Proceedings of the Workshop on Labour Migration from Mekong Countries to Japan

On July 8, 2019, the Mekong Migration Network (MMN) held a multi-stakeholder workshop on Labour Migration from Mekong Countries to Japan in Tokyo, Japan. The workshop was organised in anticipation of increased labour migration from Mekong countries, as Japan seeks to plug gaps in its rapidly shrinking labour force. Under the current Technical Internship Training Programme (TITP), a significant proportion of migrant workers in Japan originate from Vietnam (72,637), Myanmar (3,692), and Cambodia (3,328).1 These relatively modest numbers are expected to increase rapidly following the Japanese government’s announcement that it intends to welcome an additional 345,000 migrant workers within five years. To facilitate this policy change, Japan amended its strict immigration laws and added a new “Specified Skilled Worker” (SSW) visa category. Japan also signed bilateral Memoranda of Cooperation (MoC) with Vietnam, Cambodia, and Myanmar to facilitate the implementation of the new scheme.

Given these developments, MMN gathered more than 35 stakeholders to address potential challenges and opportunities from the perspectives of Japan as well as countries of origin in the Greater Mekong Subregion. Participants included representatives from the Embassy of Vietnam in Japan, the Vietnam Association of Manpower Supply (VAMAS), the Association of Cambodian Recruitment Agencies (ACRA), the Myanmar Overseas Employment Agencies Federation (MOEAF), inter-governmental organisations, recruitment agencies, and civil society organisations (CSOs) in Cambodia, Myanmar, Vietnam, and Japan, as well as academic experts on labour migration.

The two plenary sessions at the workshop touched on a number of topics from the perspectives of Japan and countries of origin, including: legal frameworks and recruitment practices in different countries of origin; labour rights violations in Japan; migrants’ experiences in pre-departure and post-arrival training; restrictive conditions under the TITP visa status; migrants’ reproductive rights; the work of CSOs and associations of recruitment agencies in countries of origin in supporting migrant workers throughout the migration cycle; the feasibility of adopting the “Zero Recruitment Fees” model for migration to Japan; and the continued presence of illegal intermediaries involved in the migration process.

Click here for the full proceedings.

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