Using the sample survey and case study methods, this study provides a profile of 202 Filipino contract workers who worked in Japan; their labor migration experience from the pre-employment, employment and post-employment stages; and the economic and psycho-social consequences of working in Japan for the worker and her family.
Unlike labor migration streams from other Asian countries (except Thailand), the labor migration streams from the Philippines to Japan are highly selective of young single females with fairly high levels of education.
Although the major reason for working in Japan was for financial rewards, the underlying motivation was focused on the welfare of the family.
Assessed in terms of house ownership, savings and remittances, working in Japan has been a profitable endeavor.
Contrary to reports, Filipino workers with legal status are generally well-treated and encounter no major difficulties.
Psycho-social changes in both the worker and her family were generally positive in nature, the experience having enhanced the worker in terms of personal maturity, stronger marital bonds (for those who are married), greater involvement in family decision-making (for those who are single), and increased level of satisfaction in various aspects of life.
There are important individual and social factors that together reinforce working in Japan (e.g. The Filipino's strong sense of duty to family, the desire to earn a higher income, the encouragement of friends, the demands of the Japanese labor market and the current state of the Philippine economy).
To better address the welfare needs of the worker and his/her family, the Philippine government must make a commitment to "education for adaptation" via policy formulations that will institutionalize it within the overseas employment program. Consequently, a comprehensive, well-planned, and well-implemented education program needs to be developed hand-in-hand with other programs, projects, and institutional structures designed to protect the interests and well-being of the worker and his/her family.
There is a need for both the Philippines and Japan to arrive at a mutually acceptable bilateral agreement to address the problem of illegal workers, including their abuse and exploitation.
The Japanese government may need to liberalize its immigration laws to allow foreign workers, including Filipinos, to work legally in jobs which the Japanese refuse to take on anyway because they are kitanai, kiken, and kitsue (dirty, dangerous, and difficult).