The Migrant Workers in Japan from Latin America and Asia: Causes and Consequences

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Mar 2000
The world has been increasingly interconnected both economically and politically ever since the end of the World War II. In addition to the increase in the movement of goods (international trade) and the movement of money (foreign investment), we have observed increased amount of movement of labor (international migration) in various parts of the world. For example, European countries, notably Germany and France, have accepted a large number of migrant workers from neighboring countries for many years. In the United States, huge number of migrant workers, both legal and illegal, have been flowing from various countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. While Japan had been a fairly closed country to foreigners for many years, the influx of migrant workers emerged in the mid-1980s when an economic boom brought about serious labor shortage created an economic boom. Initially, most of these foreign workers are illegal migrant workers from neighboring Asian countries. However, since the revision of the Japanese immigration law in 1990, there has been a dramatic influx of the Latin American of Japanese origin (Nikkei) because these people are now allowed to do whatever activities in Japan, including an unskilled work that is prohibited to foreigners in principle. The number of these Latin American migrants is estimated to be around 150,000 to 200,000. This paper analyzes the recent experiences in the economic and social impact of international migration from Latin America and Asia in Japan.