Kota is joined by Roger Raymundo of Migrante Japan, a regional chapter of Migrante International, a global alliance of grassroots migrant organizations of overseas Filipinos and their families.
We begin our conversation with Roger’s own story of migration from the Philippines to Japan, and how the Japanese occupation of the Philippines during WWII affected his life, as well as the semi-colonization and semi-feudalization of the Philippines by imperialist countries such as Japan as the root cause of poverty and the subsequent mass migration. We then discuss the specific history of Filipino migration to Japan starting in the 1960s with the Marcos dictatorship and the creation of the Labour Export Policy which institutionalized the mass migration of Filipino workers as OFWs (Overseas Filipino Workers) to Japan. Many of these workers were women funneled into precarious employment in the red-light district as “entertainers,” as dancers, singers, hostesses, and sex workers often referred to as "Japayuki-san” after “Karayuki-san” referring to Japanese girls and women from poor agrarian communities trafficked abroad to serve as sex workers in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
We discuss the amendment to Japan’s Nationality Act in 2009 which allowed the children of Filipina migrant workers and Japanese men to claim Japanese citizenship. This was a victory for these families, as well as the Filipino and Japanese human rights organizations which fought on their behalf, and led to the proliferation of intermediary organizations which assist them in obtaining Japanese citizenship and family-related long term visas. However, while these organizations are often registered as non-profits or foundations, some of them act as for-profit labour brokers recruiting them as workers and matching them with their prospective employers in Japan. Moreover, since these recruitment agencies are not properly regulated by authorities in Japan or the Philippines, this has created a loophole in which the recruiters and their local managers act as the agents of intermediary exploitation by charging these migrants exorbitant fees and often deducting them from their salaries, causing them to accumulate debt and forcing these single mothers into poverty, as well as other instances of abuse.
We discuss how Japan’s strict and exclusionary immigration policies criminalize migrants through the cases of two women: Loida Quindoy, a Flipina migrant who was deported after 30 years in Japan, as well as Pat (or Pato-chan), a trans Filipina who was subjected to transphobic harassment and various human rights violations by the Nyukan.
We conclude the interview by discussing how the COVID-19 pandemic affected Filipino migrants in Japan, and the solutions to semi-colonialism and semi-feudalism in the Philippines, as well as the current campaigns and initiatives that Migrate Japan is working on.
Intro Music: Cielo by Huma-Huma
Outro Music: Anong Kleseng Bayani
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