According to An Overview of Foreigners Coming to Japan and Japanese Departing from Japan in the Year 2006 (Interim Report)[PDF344KB/Japanese], recently issued by the Ministry of Justice, the number of Filipino singers, dancers and other entertainers who came to Japan in 2006 (January - December) dropped sharply to 8,607.
The figure reached a peak of 82,741 in 2004, the overwhelming majority of them being women (sex-disaggregated data is not made public). The number was reduced by half to 47,765 in the next year, and the latest figure reflects a further decrease on a large scale.
In accordance with the Action Plan of Measures to Combat Trafficking in Persons, formulated by the government of Japan in 2004, the status of residence for foreigners was amended as one of the first-phase measures to implement the action plan. Specifically, one of the criteria for obtaining the status of residence as "entertainer", which required that the applicant was "qualified by a foreign national or local government agency or an equivalent public or private organization", was deleted from the Ministerial Ordinance in February 2005. The amended ordinance came into force in the next month.
The change gave a great impact on the Philippines, since the qualification virtually referred to the Artist Record Book (ARB), which has been issued by the organizations under the supervision of the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency after the examination of the applicants' singing and dancing capacities.
The government of Japan expressed its distrust in the ARB system in the aforementioned action plan, stating: "It has been recognized that not a few people who have entered Japan with the status of residence as 'entertainer', have become victims of trafficking in persons, in particular those who have entered Japan having fulfilled the criteria for landing permission by holding a certificate issued by the Government of the Philippines, which testifies that the holder is an artist, but as a matter of fact do not have capability as an artist".
Furthermore, a more stringent measure took effect on 1 June 2006 in the second-phase of the implementation of the action plan, disqualifying receiving agencies in Japan if there is anyone in the agencies who had been involved in trafficking in persons.
While the number of Filipino entertainers coming to Japan has dropped by 90% from its peak, the Philippines is still on the top of the country ranking in terms of the number of newcomers with the status of residence as "entertainers". This reflects the extent to which Japan has received Filipino "entertainers".
· An Overview of Foreigners Coming to Japan and Japanese Departing from Japan in the Year 2006 (Interim Report) [PDF 344KB/Japanese], Ministry of Justice
· Japan's Action Plan of Measures to Combat Trafficking in Persons [Japanese] - Cabinet Office
- Japan's Action Plan of Measures to Combat Trafficking in Persons [English] - Ministry of Foreign Affairs
· "Issue of Trafficking in Women & Children in Japan and the Challenges aimed to Eliminate the Trafficking" (Hurights Osaka)