Global Care Chain: Where Can We Locate Japan?

by Akie Kuwano

In their theses, authors like Ehrenreich & Hochschild and Parreñas explained the system of “global care chain.” This revealed how child care work has been internationalized and in some countries exploited women from Third World while allowing women in developed countries to work outside. However, this trend is not quite applicable to a country like Japan, where the economy has thrived and more women are engaged in paid work these days. Some may argue that it is because Japan is well behind the Western country in terms of integrating women into a society; however, that is not the only reason why Japan can be located outside of “global care chain.” This essay will further explore the relation between Japanese society and this global trend of trading female care workers.

One reason why foreign nannies are uncommon in Japan is that there is simply no culture of accepting care workers from outside into one’s household. The culture is contrary to that of Western countries, where it is common to hire someone to look after their child and in some cases even offering a spare room for nannies to stay. Rather Japanese tend to send their children to pre-school (Hoiku-en) or kinder garden. Therefore, while Japanese parents are outside working, Hoiku-shi (workers in Hoiku-en) takes care of children instead of care workers from Third World.

Moreover, Japanese people hold limited image of Hoiku-shi; that is, there is certain quality of who to be engaged in care work. It is commonly women, as shown in the figure that male care workers consist only 5% of total. Although there have been some political attempts to fill the gap, the stereotype for Hoiku-shi as women are still widely prevailed. Also, the occupation is dominated by Japanese because one has to be qualified to be a Hoiku-shi. There are some requirements of completing certain degree in college or university.

In conclusion, there are no tendencies in Japan of “global care chain” as seen in other industrialized Western countries. There are several reasons; one is that it is not simply common for Japanese to invite stranger into their house for care work. The other is that Hoiku-shi as occupation is limited for certain type of people. From above, we can see the “domestic care chain” in Japan where women are still serving for care work even when they think they are working outside.


Atsuko, Aono (2009).  ”Male Childcare Workers’ Attitude Toward Child Day Care: From the View Point of Gender-Free Child Day Care” Journal of the Faculty of Human Cultures and Sciences, Fukuyama University. 9 (1-29).

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