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FOCUS September 2020 Volume 101

COVID-19 Crisis and Filipinos in Kansai*

Ma. Reinaruth D. Carlos and Jefferson R. Plantilla

In order to capture the trends on the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on Filipino residents in Japan, particularly those living in Kansai, a survey was conducted via google form through snowball sampling method. The survey was administered in May 2020.

Survey Results

The survey results reveal that the problems arising from COVID-19 crisis are not only economic but also psychological. In terms of economic impact, 64.73 percent and 24.07 percent of the respondents identified change in employment conditions and inability to sustain daily needs respectively. On the other hand, psychological impacts were reflected in the choices of anxiety about health, family and future, as well as stress and lack of concentration at work which scored 74.27 percent, 33.61 percent and 25.73 percent of all respondents respectively. With regards to the other concerns, the respondents pointed out missing family (34.44 percent), problem of returning to the Philippines (33.20 percent), and lack of information about the pandemic (15.77 percent).

Furthermore, when the respondents were classified based on their status of residence, it was revealed that long-term residents and dependents of Japanese nationals and of permanent residents were hit the hardest economically in terms of changes in employment conditions (74.55 percent) and inability to sustain daily needs (34.55 percent), as compared to permanent residents, naturalized citizens and those holding working visas. Meanwhile, in terms of marital status, while married and never-married Filipino residents registered the highest percentage of anxiety due to fear of COVID-19 infection (81.2 percent and 69.3 percent respectively), the divorced/widowed/separated Filipinos have the highest percentage of anxiety due to change in employment status (76 percent). These results emphasize the need to provide immediate assistance to those who belong to these marital and visa categories.

The adverse economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is clearly shown by the following responses: 62.65 percent had decreased income, 30.12 percent had reduced hours of work and 22.89 percent had been dismissed from work. Those who were not economically adversely affected are in much smaller percentages: 14.46 percent had to do telework; 12.65 percent got busier at work; 6.63 percent had longer work hours; and 3.01 percent had increased income.

In addition to economic uncertainties, we cite three interrelated issues - the lack of Japanese language proficiency, lack of support outside the family and limited information about the situation in Japan as contributing factors.

Some Conclusions

Our results emphasize the need for economic AND psychological support, including the provision of helpful and timely information, for Filipino residents during the COVID-19 crisis, most especially for the most vulnerable groups identified in the survey. Addressing these needs is best done at the local community level where local governments and private institutions and organizations operate. Though resources are limited, access to these local services would help relieve to some extent the difficulties faced by Filipinos in Kansai, particularly the vulnerable ones. Support from the Philippine government is equally valuable and can very well complement the programs of the government of Japan in addressing the difficulties especially of the vulnerable groups.

The immediate task is to organize and disseminate to the Filipino residents accurate and timely information, especially regarding the available support services offered by the government (local and national) and other institutions in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic. Doing so will be the first step in mitigating not only the economic but also the psychological impacts of the current crisis.

∗ Note: This is an edited excerpt of the report of the authors on the survey entitled "Survey on COVID-19 Crisis and Filipinos in Kansai - Summary Report," released in June 2020 in Kyoto city.

Ma. Reinaruth D. Carlos is a Professor at the Graduate School of International Studies, Ryukoku University (Kyoto city).

Jefferson R. Plantilla is the Chief Researcher of HURIGHTS OSAKA.

For further information, please contact: Ma. Reinaruth D. Carlos, Graduate School of International Studies, Ryukoku University (Kyoto city); e-mail: