Family and Care Work Facing Social Change and Globalization: Conjunction between Family, Care Work and Immigration in Japan

Family and Care Work Facing Social Change and Globalization: Conjunction between Family, Care Work and Immigration in Japan

Reiko Ogawa (Faculty of Law, Kyûshû University, Fukuoka, Fukuoka Prefecture, Japan)
DOI: 10.4018/ijpphme.2012100103
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This article examines the complex interplay between family and elderly care in Japan by taking into account both paid and unpaid reproductive work. The elderly care has gone through a discursive shift from the private sphere to the public sphere since 2000 through the introduction of Long Term Care Insurance. The article first elaborates the two major structural changes in the society namely demographic change and deterioration of the social welfare system including the transformation in the family institutions. Secondly, it discusses the globalization of care work through the entry of migrants into care workforce especially the resident migrants in Japan and how family serves as a driving force in affecting their decision. The article attempts to analyze the role of family in relation to both paid and unpaid reproductive work within the global restructuring of care, which is not only gendered but increasingly becoming ethnicized.
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2. Transformation Of Family Care: From A ‘Safety Net’ To ‘Family-As-Risk’

The post war economic development and prosperity has brought a longer life expectancy to the population in the developed countries at an unprecedented level including Japan as a top runner (Figure 1).

Figure 1.

Ratio of population above 65


In 2011, the life expectancy of Japanese men marked 79.44 and 85.90 for women which were the world longest life expectancy. This is a striking development compared to 1947 when the life expectancy for men was 50.06 and 53.96 for women. Within 65 years, the life expectancy has dramatically expanded for approximately 30 years (MHWL, 2011a). However, this triumph has drastically changed the demographic structure when the fertility rate started to fall. In 1950, the population above 65 was less than 5 million or 5% of the total population but within half a century it tripled (Figure 2).

Figure 2.

Demographic change in post-war Japan


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