Seminar Series

Contested Skill Regime and Divergent Migration Infrastructure: Comparing the Recruitment of Foreign Care Workers in Japan and Taiwan

Wednesday, 30 June 2021 | 9:00am - 10:00am (JST)
Zoom Webinar
  • Pei-Chia Lan Distinguished Professor, Department of Sociology, National Taiwan University
  • Sawako Shirahase TCJS Director

Recent scholars have problematized the social construction of skills and competency in labor migration policies and governance. The formation of skill regime is especially ambivalent in the sector of migrant care work, characterized by feminization, racialization, and familialism. This talk examines the divergence of migration policies and infrastructure in two major receiving countries in East Asia. Taiwan and Japan, both facing population aging and labor shortage, have nevertheless recruited foreign caregivers in distinct ways. Taiwan started the guest worker policy in the early 1990s and most care workers are recruited via for-profit brokers and placed at home. Only recently did Japan widen the gate for migrant caregivers through multiple tracks, including EPA (Economic Partnership Agreement) candidates, students, trainees, and “specified skills visa” workers; all of them are employed by care facilities and prohibited from working at private households. The comparison demonstrates how receiving states and migrant brokers co-participate in the formation of global care chains through the practice of recruitment, training, and visa documentation.


Pei-Chia Lan is Distinguished Professor of Sociology, Associate Dean of College of Social Sciences, and Director of Global Asia Research Center at National Taiwan University. She was a Yenching-Radcliffe fellow at Harvard University, a Fulbright scholar at New York University, a visiting professor at the Waseda Institute for Advanced Study, Kyoto University, and Tubingen University, and a postdoctoral fellow at UC Berkeley. Her major publications include Global Cinderellas: Migrant Domestics and Newly Rich Employers in Taiwan (Duke 2006, Distinguished Book Award from the American Sociological Association and ICAS Book Prize) and Raising Global Families: Parenting, Immigration, and Class in Taiwan and the US (Stanford 2018).