Social and Pastoral BulletinNo. 91 Aug. 15, 1999

Experiences of Foreign Workers in Japan
An anonymous person
any, if not all of us came to Japan with the purpose of providing a better future for our families. Since this country offers good job opportunities, everyone took the chance to work, even to the point of sacrificing so much for the sake of our loved ones. Like everyone else, I was full of dreams and ambitions of a better life. It was not easy at first. I had to adjust to a culture so different from what I had been used to. I had to learn to speak their language and above all I have to work in the best of my ability and even beyond my capabilities just to show I'm worthy of being in the workplace. Apart from that I had to cope with the hardships of being away from my family. I am caught up between aspiring for my dreams and the yearning to be with my loved ones.


arrived here in Japan from the Philippines 10 years ago with the aim of seeking a greener pasture. I was 22 years old then. The duration of the visa given me was 90 days but I overstayed it up to now. At first, it was very hard for me to get a job, due to lack of work experience, coupled with my inability to speak Japanese.


irst, I got a demolition job (construction type wherein demolishing / destroying old houses is the forte). It was then that I experienced sleepless nights, partly due to the muscle pain, but, primarily, because of loneliness of being away from my parents, sister and brother. It was my first time far away from home.


he first 2 years of my Christian life here were dim and empty. It was only in the early part of 1992 that life started once again, upon a friend's discovery of a church nearby, established for Japanese Catholics. My friend and I talked to the parish priest and he consented to having special Sunday masses for Filipinos. This Church soon became the center of Filipino migrant workers in the area.
he support of the Japanese parishioners, as well as their hospitality, encouraged many Filipinos to attend mass every Sunday. To this date, an estimate of 400-500 Filipinos alone can be seen here on an ordinary Sunday. This is the reason why I initiated the formation of a group composed of Filipino and Japanese volunteers, with the aim of addressing the rising problems of the growing parish, in particular, and the Filipino migrant workers plight in general.


he group welcomed seminars pertaining to "migration", conducted by professionals and experts in this field. In the seminar conducted last November 1998, the view became clearer to all the participants that, family separation, in the guise of seeking economic stability, resulted in many social problems, not only to the family members left behind, but also to the migrant worker.


ecause of these involuntary family separations not a few might have got lost, considering that almost 80% of our churchgoers are undocumented, meaning that our stay here is indefinite . This indefinite stay here posed a grave threat of temptation, that is why the group now is conducting lectures and tutorials on the use of computers, sports events like table tennis, chess and bowling, to give us some meaningful alternatives.


ut reflecting on my experiences as a migrant worker myself and working as a volunteer for the cause of migrant workers, there is great need for a formation program dedicated solely for migrant workers. In the meantime, my group is planning some sort of Bible sharing every Sunday to at least catch up and zero-in on the hot issues affecting our lives.