Friday, June 19, 2009

Big Drop in Contract-Based Filipinos in Japan after March 2005

when japan tightened its rules on the issuance of "entertainer" visas, the number of contract-based filipinos in japan plummeted from a high of 238,000 in 2004 to only 38,000 in 2007, a whopping 83.9% drop (see table 1 below). the tough policy had successfully prevented, directly from the source, eight out of every 10 hopefull filipina entertainers from leaving the philippines for japan. a japan times story confirmed this plunge of entertainer-visa holders, citing that the reason for the stricter rules was that the japanese government wanted to prevent further abuse by the entertainer-visa holders who were found to be working as hostesses or waitresses. the new, stricter entertainer-visa rules now required applicants to have a minimum of 2-years experience as an entertainer.

Table 1: Stock Estimates of Overseas Filipinos in Japan,
2004-2007 (figures are in thousands)
Source: Commission on Overseas Filipinos

a closer look at the data, however, reveals that during the same period there was also an abrupt increase of permanent migrants -- from only 83,000 in 2004 to over 133,000 in 2007, or a significant 60.2% increase. the increase is suspicious, to say the least, because in the available data on the years just prior to 2004 (that is, from 2001) the number of permanent residents has averaged only 74,000. so why the increase after 2004?

the category "permanent" overseas filipinos is defined here to mean "immigrants or legal permanent residents abroad whose stay do not depend on work contracts." one known way to quickly acquire legal residence is to get married to a japanese citizen. might the 50,000 new permanent residents between 2004 and 2007 been previously filipinas on entertainer visas who chose to 1) eventually tie the knot with long-time japanese boyfriends, 2) enter into marriages of convenience in order to be able to continue to stay legally and japan and, more importantly, continue to send back remittances to their dependents back home?

to investigate this further, i checked another statistical table from the commission of filipinos overseas entitled "NUMBER OF FILIPINO SPOUSES AND OTHER PARTNERS OF FOREIGN NATIONALS BY MAJOR COUNTRY." from 1989-2007, or nearly two decades, about 100,906 filipino-japanese marriages were registered. looking closely at the data shows that only 21,000 filipino-japanese marriages were registered during the years 2004-2007 (though it must be noted that the data doesn't indicate the gender of the spouses, that is, if it is between a female filipino and a male japanese or vice-versa). the 21,000 filipino-japanese marriages, even assuming the filipino spouse was the female, is still short of the 50,000 increase in permanent resident visas. so i am wondering, what were the 30,000 other new filipino permanent residents in japan?

might the 30,000 be unreported/unregistered filipino-japanese marriages? possible, since the data of the commission on overseas filipinos is dependent on voluntary registration by the marrying couple.

a friend provided me this link yesterday to an official report by the japan ministry of justice showing that it had been successful in weeding out roughly 100,000 overstayers in japan from 2005 to 2009 (january), representing a 48.5% drop. now looking again at table 1 above, the column on irregular filipino migrants in japan shows that from 2005-2007, the number has not decreased. either the filipino irregular migrants are not included in the 100,000 apprehended overstayers, showing resiliency of the filipino irregular migrants here, or the filipino overstayers were apprehended in year 2008.

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