Older Female Migrants and their Kin in the Homeland: Transnational Caregiving Practices among Filipinas in Japan

Dr Johanna Zulueta3

3Soka University, Hachiōji, Japan

How do older women migrants perform their familial roles to their likewise ageing family members in their homeland while carrying out their responsibilities as mothers and wives to their immediate families in the place of migration? This study looks at older Filipino women and how they engage in “transnational caregiving” (Baldassar 2007) as they care for their parents and kin back in the homeland. Most of these women entered Japan on an “entertainer” visa in the 1980s, married Japanese men and had families of their own. Based on semi-structured interviews of Filipino migrant women who consider themselves as having entered the “ageing” process, this study investigates how intergenerational relationships are affected and re-constructed through these women’s transnational caregiving practices, as they negotiate their own experiences of ageing with that of their elderly kin back home. By examining such practices, one could understand how notions of care are not only gendered and classed, but are also influenced by the migration experiences of the women themselves. Moreover, this paper seeks to understand the role of emotions, particularly those dealing with “loss” due to ageing – loss of physical mobility due to illness, loss of memory, and even death – in these relationships.


Johanna O. Zulueta is Associate Professor of Sociology at the Faculty of International Liberal Arts of Soka University. She does research on Japan-Philippines migration, examining issues related to ethnicity, gender, citizenship, return and home. She is currently interested in aging migrants, transnational families, and migrants’ end-of-life decision making.


The Asian Studies Association of Australia (ASAA) is the peak body of university experts and educators on Asia in Australia. Established in 1976, we promote and support the study of Asia in Australian universities and knowledge of Asia among the broader community. Our membership is drawn mainly from academics and students, but also includes industry and government Asia experts. We take a strong interest in promoting knowledge about Asia in schools and in contributing to state and Commonwealth government policies related to Asia. We provide informed comment on Asia to a broad public through our bulletin, Asian Currents, and specialist research articles in our journal, Asian Studies Review. Four book series published under our auspices cover Southeast Asia, South Asia, East Asia and Women in Asia.

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