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What shapes local demand for ‘guest worker’ migrants in Japan? : The case of the seafood processing industry

The Technical Intern Training Program has served as a de facto guest worker program for receiving low-skilled migrants during the last quarter century in Japan. While the program enables certain industries to employ migrants, significant local variation exists in the degree to which these industries depend on them. Focusing on the seafood processing industry, this study investigates local economic, demographic, and industrial factors that shape labor demand for technical intern trainee migrants. Using municipal-level data created from official sources including the 2013 Census of Fisheries, the study found that characteristics of the local seafood processing industry, namely relative employment size and productivity, are important predictors affecting the employment of technical intern trainees. In addition, contrary to the predominant assumption in the labor migration literature, the results positively associate productivity with the employment of technical intern trainees. This outcome is perhaps related to the focus of this study, namely a comparison not between industries, but between localities in a single industry. Another important reason may be that companies stable in production, which are more productive than unstable businesses with limited operations, are more likely to employ migrants in the regulatory context of the Technical Intern Training Program.


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Contemporary Japan


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