Category Archives: Asian Migrants

Sumitomo under fire over labor dispute and rights abuses at Philippines banana plantation

(Extraction from The Japan Times – June 19th, 2019 )

Two representatives from a Philippines labor union on Tuesday protested what they claim are unfair labor practices and human rights abuses at a banana plantation run by a fruit company affiliated with Sumitomo Corp.

Speaking at a news conference in Tokyo, Paul John Dizon, president of the local labor union Namasufa, and Jamila Seno from the group’s board of directors accused Sumifru Philippines Corp. of failing to “regularize” its workers, and of harassment following a strike held in October last year.

They called for Sumifru to comply with the Philippines’ labor department order that the over 700 workers laid off following the strike be reinstated, and urged Japanese consumers to boycott the banana brand until it resolves the labor dispute.

The affiliate of the major trading company currently employs workers on fixed-term contracts with low wages and no benefits, regardless of how many years they have been with the company, Dizon said.

Despite a Philippines Supreme Court order in 2017, Sumifru has refused to recognize Namasufa as a collective bargaining agent, arguing that a contracting agency is their employer, he said.

On Tuesday, Sumitomo said it would sell its 49 percent stake in Sumifru Singapore Pte., the owner of the Philippine unit, to joint venture partner Thornton Venture Ltd., who currently holds the majority stake.

The Japanese trading company has been producing bananas in the Philippines since 1970 and cited future growth strategies as the reason for the decision, denying any connection with the ongoing labor dispute in the Philippines.

It said the sale of the stake, the cost of which was not disclosed, is expected to be completed by the end of September this year.

Sumifru’s unit in the Philippines, which makes roughly one-third of all bananas imported to Japan, operates an approximately 2,200-hectare banana plantation and nine packaging plants in Compostela Valley, Mindanao, with a total production capacity of around 19,000 boxes per day.

At the news conference, Seno spoke of harsh working conditions with long hours and adverse health effects from exposure to chemicals used on the bananas.

“The company cares more about the bananas than the workers,” she said at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan.

Dizon and Seno, who had worked at the plantation for five and ten years, respectively, have now been unemployed for more than seven months after their involvement in the strike, but the two said they would fight against the continued harassment of Namasufa members, including the suspected killing of a prominent union member and burning down of property.

“The bananas produced or being sold by Sumifru has the blood of the workers,” he said.


Death of 174 Trainees working long hours with debts

Death of 174 Trainees working long hours with debts
Extraction from Tokyo Shimbun – December 18, 2018)

Temple Nissinkutu in Minato-ku, Tokyo. At the altar there were a row of mortuary tablets for Vietnamese people who died in Japan. “Many of them were young technical trainees in their 20s and 30s,” said Buddhist nun Tick Tham Chi (40). Many of the technical trainees who come to Japan pay a large amount of money to sending agencies and malicious brokers in their home countries and become debt-ridden.

Some of the trainees endure longer working hours and tougher jobs than the Japanese to repay debts, and even when they become sick hesitate to go to the hospital. Some are driven to commit suicide. A 25-year-old man who killed himself left this note “violence and bullying are painful”.

Buddhist nun T. T. Chi who has held over 100 funerals of technical trainees (60%) and foreign students since 2012, says “I’m worried that even after the changing of the law, discrimination related to foreigners might be repeated.”

Such suicides and unnatural deaths are said to be the result of poor working conditions. Reporter Minetoshi Yasuda says “It is difficult for them to change the workplace even if there is bullying, power harassment, or trouble. There is no family or friend who can be consulted. In such a situation, long-hour work of low-paid continue. Thus, anybody can become mentally ill”.

Cardinal Tagle: Editorial on Global Compact for Migration

Extract from the  Zenit that published on December 12th, 2018.

More than anything at this point in our common history, we need a perspective that provides a global vision and a united and compassionate response to the challenges of our time.’

United Nations member states adopted the Global Compact for Migration at a summit in Marrakesh on December 10, 2018. More than 160 nations signed up to the first ever international pact to promote “safe, orderly and regular” migration.

Caritas Internationalis commended those governments who signed up to the pact. It emphasized that all migrants need access to social services o they can live in dignity, independently of their legal status.

In an editorial first published in America Magazine, Caritas president, Cardinal Luis Tagle, heralds the Global Compact on Migration as “a sign of cooperation and unity that will offer far-reaching hope for our common future”. Read the full editorial below and find out more about our Share the Journey campaign with refugees and migrants.

Cardinal Tagle’s Editorial

News reports point to a world that is fracturing due to fear, prejudice, and hate. We seem to forget the Golden Rule that is at the root of many of our religions and cultures: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

When we see refugees fleeing wars or migrants arriving in our countries looking for a better life, a raw human instinct pushes us to close our doors in their faces, to close our eyes and close our hearts.

But if we look away or give in to fear and hate, we lose our perspective and the core of what it is to be human. More than anything at this point in our common history, we need a perspective that provides a global vision and a united and compassionate response to the challenges of our time.

On 10 and 11 December, governments from around the world are expected to discuss and adopt the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, under the auspices of the United Nations. The compact is important because it is the first global framework that provides orientation to states on how to govern migration and how to respond to migrants.

The global compact on migration shows the desire of governments to work together on one of the most urgent issues of our time. The compact will help governments fine-tune migration policy together with other stakeholders, such as civil society organizations and the private sector, to benefit sending and receiving countries.

Although not legally binding, it offers a 360-degree orientation for governments, addressing issues such as the drivers of migration, climate change and the integration of migrants. Adherence to the compact is beneficial for migrants, as it gives visibility to a phenomenon that is often dealt with only as an emergency. It is beneficial for countries as it helps them develop a long-term vision and a united response to a challenge that needs a global response.

To the governments who have withdrawn support from the compact on migration, I appeal that they reconsider their decision. In an interconnected world, global issues such as climate change, poverty and the persecution of ethnic and religious minorities call on us to work together. They will not go away if we ignore them or put up walls. When governments look beyond their immediate needs and electoral demands, they begin to protect and promote the common good, which is at the heart of any flourishing society.

Our world has been marked and shaped by migration from the earliest times in history, and it will not suddenly stop or disappear now. It requires deep thought, planning, and cooperation for the long-term benefits of migration to emerge. But if the right policies are in place, many migrants bring a much-needed boost to the workforce or key skills both for countries of origin (for example, through remittances and diaspora groups who invest in them) and countries of destination.

Contemporary migrants often take the same journeys of uncertainty and hope that our own grandparents took so our parents and our generation could have a better life. A collective amnesia makes us forget where our own families originally came from or how we ended up living where we are now. Can any of us really say we are natives of the country we live in? My own maternal grandfather was a child migrant from China who was sent to the Philippines by his impoverished mother.

The Golden Rule is a powerful reminder to look beyond ourselves and see that our lives, our countries, and our histories are deeply intertwined. Organizing at a global level is difficult and takes courage. Now is a good time to act together. Our faith teaches us that no person or country is exempt from the collective responsibility to care for our common world and its people. If we do not act now, then when?

I hope the words of Pope Francis will echo through the corridors of governments when deciding on this vital Global Compact: “Let us seek for others the same possibilities which we seek for ourselves. Let us help others to grow, as we would like to be helped ourselves. In a word, if we want security, let us give security; if we want life, let us give life; if we want opportunities, let us provide opportunities. The yardstick we use for others will be the yardstick which time will use for us.”

The adoption and implementation of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration will be an important step for governments to fight the rising tide of stigma around migration and to ensure that human dignity and rights are upheld. In a world struggling to embrace its globalized identity, the global compact will be a sign of cooperation and unity that will offer far-reaching hope for our common future.

JCAP migrants’ network SYMPOSIUM, on “The realities of migration in East Asia”.

A team of 14 delegates of a private network of 7 East Asian countries will gather in Tokyo and hold a SYMPOSIUM, on “the realities of migration in East Asia”.

Date:   March 26, 2017 (Sunday), from 3:00-5:00PM
Place:  Kibe Hall 4th Floor (St. Ignatius Church by Yotsuya Station)
Room number 404
Participation is free. All are welcome!


とき: 2017年3月26日 (日) 午後3:00~5:00
場所: 岐部ホール (イグナチオ教会構内)404号室

Accompanying People on the Move (Part 1 of 2)

Accompanying People on the Move

On 19 January 2014 around five thousand people took to the street of Hong Kong outside the police headquarters. They were members of Indonesian and Filipino migrant worker unions as well as representatives of various human rights groups in the country. With loud noise they demanded justice for Erwiana, an Indonesian maid abused by her Hong Kong employer. She was found covered in cuts and burns a week earlier at the airport just before leaving the country. Barely able to walk, she was left alone at the departure hall by her employer and agent at the early hours to avoid the airport crowds. Police and immigration officers who had seen her in that condition did not raise a finger to help let alone to investigate. A fellow Indonesian worker on her way home spotted and approached her. Finding out the full story, she contacted her friends in the union and before long the news went to the airwaves and drew huge responses from many corners.

This crime took place in Hong Kong committed allegedly by a local citizen, and the victim was an Indonesian young woman. Her recruitment and placement agency had representatives in both countries. The case drew the attention of other Indonesians in Hong Kong as well as Filipino migrant groups. A number of local activists and other expatriates took part in the campaign. A few days after the protest, the Hong Kong authorities arrested the alleged torturer at the airport as she tried to flee to Bangkok. Sad as it is, this is unmistakably a twenty first century tragedy which unfolded across geographical and political boundaries.

In 2010 the Jesuit Conference of Asia Pacific (JCAP) decided to take the issue of migration as a common priority in social actions. It rightly identified the phenomenon as a defining feature of our age which is characterized by the ease of travel and promises of prosperity, but also by their respective failings and dangers. The Society of Jesus in Asia Pacific unfortunately is far from prepared to respond to this challenge in a meaningful way. At the moment there are only five very different institutions that directly work on migrant issues: Tokyo Migrants’ Desk, Yiutsari in Seoul, UGAT Foundation in Manila, Rerum Novarum Centre in Taipei and Sahabat Insan in Jakarta. Migrant workers primarily and undocumented migrants are the target groups which reflect the kind of services these organisations offer. Indeed these are all small local institutions which offer specific services to specific types of migrants. They are in addition to the Jesuit Refugee Service which have been around much longer and serve refugees and asylum seekers.

Despite the small size, they are the real building blocks of our commitment to serve migrants. In response to the call to prioritise concerns for migration, the directors of these institutions had met several times over the course of the past three years and finally on June 3rd – 6th, 2014 in Jakarta to draft this proposal.

Participating Institutions in the JCAP Migrants Network
As mentioned before, five Jesuit institutions participate in the network as programme implementers. Two other institutions i.e. Jesuit Refugee Service Asia Pacific and Jesuit Social Services Australia take part in the network as partners in information exchanges. Benny Juliawan SJ acts as the network coordinator and project director for the programmes.

①The term “migrant workers” in this proposal refers to people who travel to countries other than their own in search for work in the blue collar sectors. Internal migrant workers are exempt from this definition.

Amnesty International (2013) Exploited for Profit, Failed by Governments: Indonesian Migrant Domestic Workers Trafficked to Hong Kong, Geneva.
Devadason, Evelyn S. and Chan Wai Meng (2014) “Policies and Laws Regulating Migrant Workers in Malaysia: A Critical Appraisal,” Journal of Contemporary Asia, 44: 1, 19-35.
ILO (2013) Domestic Workers across the World, Geneva: ILO.
Kennedy, Jason (2012) “Female Indonesian Domestic Workers in Taiwan” Seminar in Global Health and Development 2, Taipei Medical University.
Loveband, Anne (2004) “Positioning the Product: Indonesian Migrant Women Workers in Taiwan,” Journal of Contemporary Asia, 34: 3, 336-348.

Accompanying People on the Move (Part 2 of 2)

Temporariness and Brokerage

Migration is a major political, economic, social and cultural concern in Asia Pacific. Countries in this region are major sources of migrants for the world. China, the Philippines, Vietnam and Indonesia are among the world’s top 25 suppliers of migrants, with China and the Philippines in the top 10. Most of these go to other countries within Asia and to North America. Asia Pacific is also home to a large number of immigrants, with more than 10 million migrants, many of whom are from other countries within the region. Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand are among the top 25 countries in the world with the highest immigration rates. If internal migration is added to the picture, the number and proportion of migrants would increase greatly, especially in rapidly urbanizing countries like China and Vietnam.

The dominant driving force of migration has been economic. The bulk of migrants in Asia Pacific are transient workers taking up blue-collar jobs that are shunned by locals in developed and industrializing countries. The label “dirty, dangerous and difficult” has been coined to describe the work of migrants. Typical jobs include domestic workers, construction workers, plantation workers, factory workers, fishermen, heath care aids and hospitality workers. To illustrate, Asia Pacific is home to around 21.5 million domestic workers (ILO, 2013), which makes up about 41 percent of all domestic workers in the world today. According to official statistics the state of Sabah in Malaysia employs 272,157 foreign workers (2012), mostly from Indonesia and the Philippines in the oil palm industry. Overall registered migrant workers made up 21% of Malaysia’s workforce (2010), and this is not to include the irregular or undocumented migrant workers, which some estimates put the figure at around 1.3 million (Devadason and Meng, 2014). The focus group of this proposal refers to these workers who travel to countries other than their own in search for menial jobs.

Cross-border migration either in search for work or political asylum always carries extra risks associated with being a foreigner with limited means. For migrant workers in particular the vulnerabilities are multiplied these days by the general preference of capital movement over that of labour under globalisation. When countries do feel the need for foreign labour, they treat migrant workers as supplementary labour and subject them to “temporariness” regime. What it means is that the presence of migrant workers in general is assumed to be temporary to address labour shortages and they are not eligible for rights and provisions which otherwise would be available for citizens or permanent residents.

This does not apply to foreign professionals apparently. The Taiwan Council for Labour Affairs, for example, defines the role of “foreign professionals” as to enhance technological level and competitiveness, whereas “foreign labour” is to supplement shortages. Expatriates in Malaysia are allowed to bring in their families but contract migrant workers are not. South Korea does not even recognise domestic work as employment, and therefore foreign domestic workers are exempt from provisions sanctioned by the law. In fact, 61 per cent of all domestic workers in Asia and the Pacific are not covered by the country’s standard labour laws (ILO 2013). Hong Kong relies on a highly flexible labour regime in general, which applies to all workers but especially to migrant workers. Migrant domestic workers have to leave the country within two weeks after their contracts expire if they cannot find new employers. Indeed, temporariness regime is manifested in short or fixed term contracts and exclusion from labour laws.

Temporariness also plays into the hand of agents or middlemen both in sending and receiving countries. These include private agencies (legal and illegal) in host and sending countries as well as government officials in certain countries like Vietnam which play the middlemen role. Legislative frameworks to regulate this role have been limited. According to NGOs’ experience, a substantial portion of migrants’ problems originate in the actions of middlemen. These include provision of inadequate or false information, charging of exorbitant fees which cause the migrant to be in a debt-bonded situation, trafficking and outright deception.

The root cause of this inhumane activity can be found in the complexity of hiring processes. Recruiting and placing workers across state boundaries require a certain degree of knowledge and experience in dealing with paper works and state bureaucracies, two qualities that are often lacking in prospective migrants. Moreover, short-term contracts imply constant search for new job orders which again is often beyond the scope of domestic helpers with long working hours. It is therefore almost inevitable that they have to rely on middlemen. The problem is compounded by the regulative frameworks which deliberately avail agencies with a lot of power and limit the role of the state.

Agents have indeed become very powerful in the migration industry not only when dealing with workers but also in their bargaining with the state as the latter gradually loses its capacity to control the hiring and placement processes. The combination of these factors makes migrant workers all the more prone to exploitation along the process of migration: pre-migration, after migration, and when returning. In Taiwan, which has relatively better treatments of domestic workers, for example, many agents have switched from Filipino workers to Indonesian ones after the former were deemed more forceful in demanding their rights (Loveband, 2004). In doing this, they portray Indonesian workers as loyal, caring, capable of repetitive household chores, effectively manufacturing a stereotype which defines the kind of working condition that employers expect their maids will accept. This freedom to choose, however, is not applicable the other way around. Migrant domestic workers are not free to switch employers at will; such actions will incur penalties even if the reason is to do with treatments or working conditions.

Efforts to target this temporariness regime and the brokerage system will form the main collaborative work among the five migration institutions in JCAP. Given the modest state of these institutions the strategies centre around doing locally based research and activities that follow an agreed template. The compiled findings will then be the basis to create a platform for advocacy both at the local and regional levels. These strategies will also serve as a learning space in collaboration within the network. See the Annex for the description of the programmes.

Participating Institutions in the JCAP Migrants Network
As mentioned before, five Jesuit institutions participate in the network as programme implementers. Two other institutions i.e. Jesuit Refugee Service Asia Pacific and Jesuit Social Services Australia take part in the network as partners in information exchanges. Benny Juliawan SJ acts as the network coordinator and project director for the programmes.

Labour law generally guarantees minimum wage, working hours, overtime pay, annual leave, fair termination of contract, benefits and workers’ compensations.
For example, in November 2013, the Amnesty International published a damning report on the treatment of migrant workers in Hong Kong in the hands of recruitment agencies and brokers.
In Taiwan as of 2012, 75 per cent of domestic workers are Indonesian, 12.5 per cent Filipino, 12.5 per cent Vietnamese, and 0.5 per cent Malaysian (Kennedy, 2012).

Amnesty International (2013) Exploited for Profit, Failed by Governments: Indonesian Migrant Domestic Workers Trafficked to Hong Kong, Geneva.
Devadason, Evelyn S. and Chan Wai Meng (2014) “Policies and Laws Regulating Migrant Workers in Malaysia: A Critical Appraisal,” Journal of Contemporary Asia, 44: 1, 19-35.
ILO (2013) Domestic Workers across the World, Geneva: ILO.
Kennedy, Jason (2012) “Female Indonesian Domestic Workers in Taiwan” Seminar in Global Health and Development 2, Taipei Medical University.
Loveband, Anne (2004) “Positioning the Product: Indonesian Migrant Women Workers in Taiwan,” Journal of Contemporary Asia, 34: 3, 336-348.

Migration In East Asia

Ando Isamu, SJ, staff member(Jesuit Social Center, Tokyo)
Social and Pastoral Bulletin issue: No. 178 / August 15th, 2014

The phenomenon of migration is a universal movement of people affecting over 200 million nowadays. The oil boom in the Gulf States during the 1970s became an incentive in many Asian countries stimulating workers to migrate. In absolute numbers, China, Bangladesh and India are believed to be among the top ten emigration countries worldwide. In East Asia the Philippines with about 3,500,000 migrant people remains an important origin country for migrants moving both within and outside the region. (Figure 1)

Top Emigration Countries in Asia Year 2000

There are ten top migration corridors worldwide and four of them are Asian countries. Bangladesh-India, with 3.5 million migrants in 2005, followed by India-United Arab Emirates with 2.2 million and the Philippines-USA with 1.6 million (World Bank, 2008). Undocumented migration is increasingly an issue within the Asian region. It is believed that the Bangladesh-India corridor alone involves about 17 million people (Figure 2)

Emigrations from Asian in receiving countries Year 2000

Pope Francis’ Message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees
On January 19, 2014, in his message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees, Pope Francis stated that our societies are experiencing, in an unprecedented way, processes of mutual interdependence and interaction on the global level. “I have chosen,” the Pope said, “for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees this year: Migrants and Refugees: Towards a Better World.

” What is involved in the creation of a “better world”? It aims at an authentic and integral development of individuals and families, and at ensuring that God’s gift of creation is respected, safeguarded and cultivated. Pope Paul VI described the aspirations of people today as “to do more, to learn more, and have more, in order to be more” (Populorum Progressio, 6).

A better world will come about only if attention is first paid to individuals; if human promotion is integral, taking account of every dimension of the person, including the spiritual; if no one is neglected, including the poor, the sick, prisoners, the needy and the stranger.

Contemporary movements of migration represent the largest movement of individuals, if not of peoples, in history. As the Church accompanies migrants and refugees on their journey, she seeks to understand the causes of migration, but she also works to overcome its negative effects.

We cannot remain silent about the scandal of poverty in its various forms. Migration is linked to poverty. Fleeing from situations of extreme poverty or persecution in the hope of a better future, or simply to save their own lives, millions of persons choose to migrate. The reality of migration needs to be approached and managed in a new, equitable and effective manner. This calls for profound solidarity and compassion. As Pope Benedict XVI stated, there is need for close collaboration between the migrants’ countries of origin and their countries of destination (Caritas in Veritate, 62). It must also be emphasized that such cooperation begins with the efforts of each country to create better economic and social conditions, and opportunities for employment at home.

Correct information and changes of attitude with regard to migrants and refugees are needed, as well as the elimination of prejudices. The Church has always affirmed that personal dignity is mainly grounded on the fact that human persons have been created in God’s own image and likeness and, even more so, are children of God (Random excerpts from Pope Francis’ Message).

Jesuits and Migration in the JCAP Region

Early in 2009, the Jesuit Conference of Asia Pacific initiated a social mapping project which aimed to take stock of the social concerns in which Jesuits and their collaborators were currently engaged and to explore possibilities for international co-operation. From the final results of the “Social Mapping Report” it was clear that Jesuits and their collaborators were involved in a wide range of social concerns throughout Asia Pacific.

KIbe Hall Buillding

The present realities of Asia Pacific require more coherent strategies and well-combined efforts across Jesuit provinces in the region. Increasing numbers of vulnerable migrants, inequitable economic development, threats to marginalized groups, deep-seated conflicts and ecological injustices are among the pressing concerns in the region calling for a greater role for Jesuits and their collaborators.

Actually “migration” and the “environment and governance of natural resources” can be considered top priority apostolic frontiers relevant to all countries of Asia Pacific. However in order to be effective, there has to be a concurrent effort to renew the Society’s commitment to social justice and to being an international community on mission. In fact, there seems to be a lack of commitment by Jesuits to being with the poor and to social justice. Other weaknesses have been clearly detected through the “Social Mapping Report,” especially the lack of connection among those in the social apostolate as well as among various apostolates, such as the social and intellectual ministries.

In the Asia Pacific region, people who live precariously outside their place of origin, and whose dignity and human rights are not adequately respected, include refugees, internally displaced persons, undocumented migrants, migrant workers, victims of trafficking, etc. All are vulnerable.

The Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) established 35 years ago currently focuses on people who are forcibly displaced. The international Ignatian Advocacy Network has identified migration as one important focus and JCAP, in August 2009, also chose migration as a priority for action and coordination in the Asia Pacific region. Some work is being done with migrant workers in Japan through the Jesuit Social Center, in Korea by the Jesuit Migrant Center, by the Rerum Novarum Center in Taiwan, and by Sahabat Insan in Indonesia. In the Philippines the UGAT Foundation works with families left behind by migrant workers.

Ignatian Advocacy Network August 2009

The direct services offered usually include education initiatives, legal assistance, pastoral care and community building, support concerning employment matters, shelters and/or material support, etc. For migrants, assistance with workplace injuries, abuse and unjust treatment by employers are most commonly sought.

Looking at emerging areas, displacement due to natural or human-made disasters seems to be becoming increasingly common in the Asia Pacific region. The phenomenon of migrant spouses is also a growing area of concern.

Since migrant workers, within the Asia Pacific region and from the Asia Pacific region, are a significantly growing group, much more could be done to interconnect efforts in sending and receiving countries. Organized exchange of information and experiences could certainly improve and develop the networks beyond Jesuit connections.

Migration is a wide field with strong links to poverty, human rights, development aid and the environment, natural disasters, peace building and conflict resolution.

Concrete Steps Taken since 2009
In August 2010, a special gathering of Jesuits representing most Provinces in East Asia and the Pacific region took place in Klaten (Indonesia). The focus on migration was one of the main outcomes of the discussions. Looking for the support and engagement of all Jesuit apostolates in the common frontier of migration in Asia Pacific, it was considered important to improve coordination between receiving and sending countries.

In October 2010, before the “IV World Forum on Migration,” 94 people representing 29 countries gathered in Quito, Ecuador, to try to define priorities for action and processes, as well as forms of networking Jesuit apostolates concerning migration at the global level. Our JCAP region sent 3 representatives. The challenges posed by migration are an apostolic priority for the universal body of the Society of Jesus.

In May 2011, a small group of Jesuits and collaborators, working with migrant workers in several countries of East Asia, shared information and networking plans at a special seminar held in Seoul.

JCAP meeting in Seoul 2011

More recently, in June this year, the JCAP migration network seems to have gained momentum at a meeting of representatives (directors) of Jesuit institutions working on migration. The venue of the meeting was Jakarta, Indonesia, and the group sensed that the recent appointment of Benny Juliawan SJ, as the responsible coordinator of the network for migrants in the Asia Pacific region, will finally create a strong coordination within the region

Our institutions represented at the Jakarta meeting deal mostly with migrant workers and undocumented migrants and a 3-year (2014-2017) action plan was elaborated to deal with these key focus groups. One major concern among the participants was the need to address the brokerage system strongly influencing the recruitment and placement of migrant workers throughout the region.

A new concrete program of mutual cooperation entails disbursing limited research grants for a period of 3 years.The topics selected are: (1) the welfare of migrants’ children, (2) repatriation and reintegration of migrants, and (3) brokerage practices in migration.

I would like to add here two main developments actively supported by the Tokyo Social Center. One is the establishment of the Adachi International Academy (AIA) in 2007 for basic education in the Japanese language and culture for migrant workers and their children living in the outskirts of Tokyo. Three years later, in 2010, our Social Center opened a Migrant Desk, in cooperation with lawyers, to deal with legal issues migrant workers face in their daily lives. Besides that, our Center, convinced of the importance of the migration issue, is always open to cooperation with other groups promoting networking all through the Asian region.

Challenging times for the Myanmar Mission

Mark Raper SJ, President, Jesuit Conference of Asia Pacific
Social and Pastoral Bulletin issue: No. 171 / June 15th, 2013

Many may have thought the battle won when Aung San Suu Kyi was free to appear in public, when hundreds of political prisoners were released, when dissidents were free to return home from exile abroad, when censorship and sanctions were lifted, when elections were held, and as parliament sits to draft a new constitution. In reality the work of rebuilding Myanmar is just beginning.

After half a century of brutal mismanagement and appalling leadership, myriad resentments simmer. Decades of neglect in education, health care, social welfare, and infrastructure cannot be overcome in an instant. As the dictatorship eases control on its own citizens, people seize the opportunity to protest the injuries and injustices they have suffered. As self-expression becomes more common, powerful ethnic, religious and cultural frameworks are evident, and fanaticism, racial disagreements, and old envies are rehearsed.

The treatment of the Rohingya, the response to the escalating attacks on Muslims in Myanmar, the capacity to achieve a peaceful settlement in the Kachin war, the ability to find harmony among many ethnic and racial groups, will test not only the new Myanmar regime of Thein Sein, but also its newfound friends, the many countries and companies now enjoying a honeymoon of new investment possibilities in the country. In this context, new social restraint, new skills of negotiation, new efforts for building community and for protecting the environment are sorely needed.

MyanmarThe Church in Myanmar is awakening to new opportunities and challenges. With few public services apart from seminaries and kindergartens, and a history of necessary isolation from authorities and other religions, the Church begins to learn to take its place in civil society. Now Church leaders have opportunities to develop friendships and trust, and to negotiate across many sectors of society.

The challenges for the Myanmar Jesuit Mission in this context are also great. It is possibly too early to build institutions, but not too early to invest in people and their formation. Recently the mission hosted a visit by a number of provincials for a consultation on how the universal Society might cooperate with and support the mission. They met with Church and civil society members who outlined developments, challenges and opportunities within Myanmar.

The consultation considered our services to the Church, outreach activities to Myanmar society, and internal issues such as formation and governance.

There are more than 30 Myanmar Jesuits in formation, many of them studying in the Philippines and Indonesia. Quite a number will come home this year for some years of practical immersion in service of their people. The challenging times ahead in Myanmar over the coming decades will require qualities of diverse skills, discernment, discipline and deep self-knowledge not just in them but in all who are committed to building community, capacity in the young and harmony in society.

As Easter breaks open with the new light and hope of dawn, please join in prayer and practical support for the fledgling Myanmar Mission in its service of a country now emerging from a long, dark night of isolation and oppression.

New Year 2013


The New Year offers an uncertain hope of new things to happen. Since the Great Earthquake and tsunami (March 2011) that darkened the future of tens of thousands of people living in East Japan, the country still remains in an uneasy situation with regard to its future.

If one follows the main stream of the mass media, the general public looks at the Year2012 that has just passed away as a period of political and economic crisis brought about by business stagnation, the unsolved Fukushima nuclear disaster and the political confrontations with Japan’s neighbors. The year just ended with the failure of the Democratic Party of Japan to keep the reins of government. Japan started the New Year with the Liberal Democrats, a “new party” that had held the power for over 50 years, except the last 3 years in the opposition.

The Voices of Migrant Workers Living in Japan
The Year2012 was a significant period for over 2 million foreign workers living in Japan. There were substantial changes in the Japanese legal and political system that touched deeply their lives. One among them was the ruling of Tokyo District Court that stated that “if a Japanese man sires a child with a foreigner overseas and does not file for the child’s Japanese citizenship within three months of birth, then citizenship may legally be denied.” The result would be to help Japanese men to evade responsibility if they fool around with foreign women. In fact, our migrant desk has been involved this past year with some legal cases concerning this issue.

Most probably the case of Govinda Prasad Mainali (a foreign worker) was the most publicized by the mass media. Mainali was serving a life sentence in Japan because of murder he had never committed but after 15 years he was declared wrongfully convicted. He was “released” with a public apology, although, in fact, they transferred him to an immigration jail and was deported to his country of origin.

The abolition of the Foreign Registry Law and the system that did not allow foreigners to be registered with their Japanese families on the local residency registry system was a major legal change that affected all foreigners living and working in Japan.

The results are ambivalent and those stateless and the ones unable to obtain proper documentation (most probably more than one hundred thousand “illegal”) are practically thrown out down the legal cliff. Jobs and dwelling, their daily lives have become so difficult that they are bound to remain in the underground. (by Ando)

[I recommend “The year for non-Japanese in ’12: a top 10”, The Japan Times, January 1, 2013]

SAHABAT INSAN, Friends of Humanity

Ignatius Ismartono, SJ
Social and Pastoral Bulletin issue: No. 166 / September 10th, 2012

1) A Glimpse of History
When I worked for the Bishops’ Conference of Indonesia as executive secretary of the Commission for Inter-religious Dialogue (1995-2004), I came to know many problems faced by the victims of conflicts in various parts of the country, where 37 dioceses are located. At that time my eyes were opened wide to the victims, and these victims became the focus of our concern and attention. The Bishops’ Conference then inaugurated a desk, called the Crisis and Reconciliation Service, in their inter-religious office. The main mission of the desk was to be present with the victims so that they could be able to transform themselves, to become survivors. The first step to be taken was to build a network with various non-government organizations concerned with the victims. When a big tsunami hit Indonesia in 2004, we began to collaborate with the local young men and women, especially university students, to help the victims.

Numbers of volunteers came to the Bishops’ Conference office to join the Crisis Center and organize the assistance. Some foreign charity organizations invited us to work together in Aceh. Aceh is predominantly Muslim and, thanks to the students, we were accepted by the victims, especially because our work was humanitarian.

After 2004, due to the influx of foreign charity institutions into Indonesia and the strong urging of Caritas International, the Indonesian Bishops established Caritas Indonesia. Since then, the Bishops have entrusted Caritas Indonesia with the concern for natural disasters.

2) Friends of Humanity
The volunteers moved on to become a community. Our legal name is “Sahabat Insan”, Friends of Humanity. We decided to continue paying attention to victims. But, since victims of natural disasters are already helped by Caritas Indonesia, we shifted our concern to victims of man-made disasters, migrant workers. Their numbers are huge and the institutions helping them are also many. We did not start from data collection, nor do we work for advocacy, let alone litigation. While keeping up our contact with the victims, we found that there was a further need. There are failed migrant workers who have to return to Indonesia. Their situation is so desperate that they are in dire need of help. Without such help, they will lose their basic human rights. These are those who come back to Indonesia and enter the harbors, but with no friends to accompany them.

3) Caring for Migrant Workers
The problem is huge and we are tiny. There is an institution called “Peduli Buruh Migrants” (Caring for Migrant Workers), which is led by a woman who was formerly a migrant worker herself. We collaborate with them, helping those who need help. Ms Lily is the one who takes care of our shelter and we assist her especially in financial matters.

4) Those in Dire Need
You may have read some of the information about Indonesian migrant workers provided by Jakarta ANTARA News. At least 101 Indonesian migrant workers, including 29 nurses and 72 care workers, will be sent to Japan on May 17, 2012. “They will be sent to Japan tomorrow, after having received language training at the Japan Foundation for six months,” said Japan’s Ambassador to Indonesia Yoshinori Katori.

He added that this is the fifth year wherein workers have been sent to Japan under the Indonesian migrant workers program. “We hope they work as well as their predecessors,” he remarked. The program was initiated in 2008, when a total of 288 Indonesian migrant workers were sent to Japan. Until now, 791 migrant workers have entered Japan through this program.

“Japan is very satisfied with their work,” he added. “We hope we can strengthen our people-to-people contact through this program.” According to Endang Sulistyaningsih, promotion director of the Manpower Replacement and Protection Agency, Indonesian migrant workers are noted for their work ethics, discipline, and hard work, as well as other traits such as never giving up, saving money, and not being shy to ask questions. “Do not worry. We will never abandon you. Sometimes we will visit you,” Endang added. Twenty-four-year-old Indonesian migrant worker, Indah Gita Safira, intends to work as a care worker in a nursing home in Japan. She has signed an employment contract to work in Japan for four years. She will receive a monthly salary of about 17,450 yen (?). “I will give my best as a care worker in Japan,” she promised.

But you may have read different reports, like “Indonesia Summons Malaysia Ambassador over Migrant Worker Killings” (Jakarta Globe April 24, 2012). “Relatives of the migrant workers who were shot to death in Malaysia filed complaints with the West Nusa Tenggara Police on Monday. On Tuesday Indonesia summoned the Malaysian Ambassador to explain why three Indonesian migrant workers were shot and killed by Malaysian police and to answer unconfirmed reports that the organs of the deceased were harvested. We want them to come as soon as possible and bring along the clarification,” said Tatang Razak, the Indonesian Foreign Affairs Ministry’s director for the protection of Indonesian citizens overseas. He also said the ministry was coordinating with police in Lombok to conduct autopsies to verify reports that organs had been harvested from the three dead men.

The Indonesian government is demanding that Malaysia release the autopsy results and chronology of the workers’ deaths. Tatang said on Monday that there had been reports from the Malaysian government that the three could have been involved in criminal activity when they were shot by Malaysian authorities. “We will find out whether the workers really committed any crime. If they are innocent, someone must take responsibility,” he said.

The foreign affairs minister, Marty Natalegawa, expressed concern about the lack of transparency in determining what had happened to the victims. The government will facilitate another autopsy if that is desired by the victims’ families. “Anything the families desire will be facilitated because this is our problem too,” he said. The bodies of the three, Abdul Kadir Jaelani, 24, Herman, 28, and Mad Noor, 33 were returned earlier this month to their hometowns in East Tombok. They were found dead in Malaysia on March 30, each with gunshot wounds. Suspicions over the motive for their killings arose when two family members of the victims saw the condition of the bodies and said they believed their organs had been harvested.

Rieke Dyah Pitaloka, a lawmaker from the opposition Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), said an independent autopsy was needed to determine if the three were victims of organ traffickers. She said the responsibility for the autopsies should not be the burden solely of the migrant worker placement agency, PJTKI. The government needs to be proactive and work together with the Malaysian government. “This is not just the responsibility of PJTKI,” Rieke said on Monday. Tubagus Hasanuddin, a PDI-P lawmaker who is deputy chairman of the House of Representatives Commission I, which oversees foreign affairs, said the deaths could be related to an organ trafficking ring and should be probed further. “This is a gross human rights violation and the government must investigate it,” he said.

Meanwhile, the West Nusa Tenggara Police told the families of the slain workers to wait for a letter from the Indonesian Embassy in Kuala Lumpur providing a detailed chronology of the deaths before filing complaints. “We are not rejecting their complaints, but we advised the families and BP3TKI, the Migrant Worker Placement and Protection Agency to wait for the letter from the Indonesian Embassy in Malaysia first,” said West Nusa Tenggara Police spokesman Lalu Wirajaya. None of the family members witnessed the incident. They only heard about it.

We, Friends of Humanity, do not consider ourselves an institution mainly to help the migrant workers. Our priority is that migrant workers are becoming victims. In other words, “a preferential option for the poor,” the concern of the Catholic Church and the Society of Jesus as well. Recently those in direst need are migrant workers who fail, who are outcast, who come home empty-handed to die. And since we are so small, we have to collaborate with those who share the same concern.

Jakarta, 29 June 2012

History in Action. A presentation of the World Charter of Migrants

Extract from the World Charter Migrants

For five years now, a process has been evolving. Women and men have decided to tell the world that they exist and that they are entitled to rights regardless of where they choose to live. “Nothing for us and without us” is the principle that has inspired the process through which migrants are retaking control over their destiny and regaining their voice that has too long been silenced by political authorities and experts. On the basis of the principles of freedom of movement between countries and the right to stay where one chooses to live, millions of migrants from the four corners of the world have decided to come together to shout to the global society: “Let us pass, let us circulate, let us live”.

A long process
The World Charter of Migrants project was launched in Marseille in 2006 when 120 undocumented families mobilized to fight for their papers. It was one of the migrants, Crimo, who proposed the creation of a charter written by the migrants themselves based on their lives and their experiences. The first of its kind, the text was proposed at different international meetings and gathered support from a multitude of migrants who have since coordinated actions throughout their respective continents. These migrant leaders sought to put in place local assemblies that enabled a collective writing process based on discussions and exchanges between migrants. Various charter propositions emerged from the four continents and the international network produces a final synthesis of these texts.

From September 2010 to January 2011, the final charter was disseminated throughout the local assemblies in order to relaunch a discussion at the global level. During this phase of discussions, changes, and amendments to the final text, migrants throughout the world began to adopt these principles. This contributed to a growing political and social dynamic.

The charter was approved on February 4th, 2011 at Goree by migrants from throughout the world who had launched an action prior to the Global Social Forum in Dakar. Goree Island, a symbol of slavery and deportation, provided and apt location for migrants to propose a new era without barriers nor discrimination……

To read more click here Web:

The Social Mapping Report [Jesuit Mission]

Ando Isamu S.J. (Jesuit Social Center, Tokyo)
Social and Pastoral Bulletin issue: No. 156 / November 15th, 2010 

A Jesuit Initiative in East Asia

In recognition of the need to examine the social context of the Jesuit mission in Asia- Pacific today, a Social Mapping Project was initiated by the Jesuit Conference of Asia- Pacific (JCAP) in early 2009. Around the same time, JCAP participants at the Jesuit international social justice workshop in Madrid in November 2008 asked for a more comprehensive conference-wide database of Jesuits in the social field.

The JCAP office worked with a team of lay collaborators. With the concurrence of JCAP Major Superiors in January 2009, the social mapping project was launched. It has the following objectives:

1) To gain greater insight into the current social context of Asia-Pacific, particularly from the experiences of Jesuits in the field;

2) To identify Jesuit institutions and individuals who are involved in creative initiatives in the social field; and

3) To facilitate discernment of how the Society is called to respond to the invitations and challenges of the social context, especially through international co-operation.

The present realities of Asia-Pacific require more coherent strategies and well-combined efforts across provinces and apostolic boundaries. The increasing numbers of vulnerable migrants, fast-paced and inequitable economic development, threats to marginalized groups, deep-seated conflicts and ecological injustices are among the pressing concerns in the region inviting a greater role for Jesuits and their collaborators.

This study recommends that the Society should identify common apostolic frontiers or priorities to tackle at the Conference level through a multi-sectorial approach. Migration, Environment and Governance of natural resources can be among the priority apostolic frontiers relevant to all countries of Asia-Pacific. Jesuits and companions are engaged in these fields in many parts of the region. Specific goals can be identified for each of these two areas and strategies that involve all the relevant apostolates – intellectual, social, pastoral, education – can be formulated, implemented and monitored at the (JCAP) Conference level.

The social mapping project has revealed that only a small number of Jesuits are engaged in full-time social ministries and these often experience a sense of isolation and lack of support. It has also been highlighted that direct contact of Jesuits with the poor is decreasing. In fact, Jesuits’ lack of commitment to being with the poor and to social justice is a recurrent observation. Moreover, while there are a number of expert individuals and institutions in the Assistancy, current efforts seem to be piecemeal. There is a lack of connection between different apostolates, especially between the social and intellectual ministries. As a result, the sharing of expertise and the implementation of joint projects has been minimal.

Planning can be greatly improved. In particular, the Conference, Provinces and Regions would do well to plan in terms of mission frontiers and not in terms of apostolates.

Finally, a number of younger Jesuits have inherited existing ministries pioneered by their predecessors. However, local and regional contexts have changed. The younger generation of Jesuits will respond to encouragement and flexibility. They are called to boldly re-define the road ahead.

In summary, GC 35 urges Jesuits to build bridges across barriers so as to promote reconciliation with God, with others and with creation. Located in Asia-Pacific, a region culturally and religiously diverse, economically dynamic and politically wide-ranging, JCAP has to respond to this call for reconciliation with boldness and creativity.


The JCAP office identified and contacted Jesuits and collaborators in each Province and Region who were involved in social-related initiatives. Through email surveys, information was sought from these persons regarding their current work, their way of working, their network of contacts, future plans and how they might benefit from greater international co-operation. A total of 103 persons working in the Assistancy were contacted, comprising Jesuits and lay persons engaged in social ministries; Jesuits involved in social initiatives with other organizations and their collaborators; and Jesuits active in social-related concerns through the intellectual, pastoral, education and other ministries.

The most basic question that the social mapping project sought to answer was: In what areas are we now actively engaged? An initial survey revealed that Jesuits and collaborators in Asia-Pacific have been active in the following social-related themes:

1. Migration
2. Environment and governance of natural resources
3. Poverty and sustainable development
4. Indigenous peoples
5. Youth, family and rehabilitation
6. Access to education
7. Civil society, participation and governance
8. Inter-religious dialogue and religious fundamentalism
9. Peace building and conflict resolution10.Natural disaster preparedness, relief and reconstruction

  KLATEN Meeting and Social Mapping Project

 A Social Apostolate Meeting was held in Klaten (Indonesia) under the sponsorship of JCAP from 16 to 20 August 2010 to discuss the issue of migration in East Asia and the Pacific. Nearly 40 delegates, Jesuits and their co-partners, from the countries of the region participated. The participants discussed the mapping report and identified the following key areas that need greater attention.

1) Collaboration: there is a need to move forward on joint projects regarding migration. In concrete, to form networks between sending and receiving countries.

2) Coordination: to communicate more through IT – internet, blogs, social media, etc.
Need of a full-time social apostolate coordinator

3) Closeness to the poor: those in the social apostolate need to carry out self-evaluation. Provinces need reminders about lifestyle, living the vows and monitoring budget policy.

4) Formation with a social dimension: need to include social analysis and critical reflection in the curriculum for scholastics. Use the mapping report as a resource. Get Jesuits, mainly scholastics, to experience the social dimension of our life.

(Please refer to the article “Migrants in Japan”in No. 154 of this Bulletin.)

Participants reflected on migration in Asia-Pacific and agreed on the following goals for the Conference project:

1) To deepen the quality of our accompaniment by being closer to vulnerable migrants and providing them with quality services;

2) To increase reflection, research and formation for work on migration;

3) To better understand and advocate the cause of migrants at the local and international levels; and

4) To increase awareness of migrants’ experiences among Jesuits and in the Church in order to promote responses at various levels.

*Migrant groups
It was also agreed that the project would focus on the following groups of migrants

1) Migrant workers (both international and internal

2) Vulnerable foreign spouses, including “mail order brides

3) Undocumented migrants, including victims of trafficking in persons and smuggling and

4)People in immigration detention centers.

*Areas of action
The following key areas of action for the first 3 years were agreed upon. Detailed action plans were formulated for each area.

1) Sending countries

2) Receiving countries

3) Engagement of other apostolates

4) Advocacy and communication

5) Structure of governance

It was agreed that a task force should be formed to get the migration project moving and that a full-time person should be engaged for a new Conference migration desk. Fr Bernard Arputhasamy SJ agreed to head the task force.

 Province Action Plans 
Each Jesuit Province represented explained the action plans to be taken. I offer here the program of the Japanese delegates.

1) Regarding the social mapping:

Make a summary in the social apostolate committee (SAC) and share the results of the Klaten gathering with other Jesuits, especially with the Scholastics

2) Migration:

(a) Contact Person: Migration desk at Tokyo Social Center (Ando)

(b) Collaboration and Networking with CTIC (Catholic Tokyo International Center), other citizens’ NGOs, Parishes, Schools and Sophia University, AIA (Adachi International Academy)

(c) Build up a network with receiving countries of migrant foreign workers

3) Other key areas:

(a) Marginalization

(b) Human suffering because of spiritual and/or human anxiety

(c) Peace building in the Japanese context


Report on the JCAP Migration workshop (Seoul)

15th – 17th May 2011, Jesuit Apostolic Center, SEOUL
Social and Pastoral Bulletin issue: No. 160 / July 15th, 2011

“This tradition of Jesuits building bridges across barriers becomes crucial in the context of today’s world. We become able to bridge the divisions of a fragmented world only if we are united by the love of Christ our Lord, by personal bonds like those that linked Francis Xavier and Ignatius across the seas, and by the obedience that sends each one of us in mission to any part of this world.” (GC 35, Decree 3, 17)

For the first time, Jesuits and collaborators providing direct services to migrants in sending and receiving countries came together around the table at a workshop in Seoul from 15th to 17th May 2011. The objectives of the workshop were:
– To improve links between centers across countries for the benefit of migrants
– To build capacity and learn best practices from each other and from experts
– To plan for common action
The workshop was organized and sponsored by JCAP with the generous support of the Korean province. There were 13 participants from Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Indonesia, Vietnam, JCAP as well as a representative from the Good Shepherd Asia Pacific network.

Highlights of the program
Fr Denis Kim SJ gave an overview of migration in Asia (focusing on the North East) and the challenges for the church and the Society. The presentation helped participants to look at the big picture of migration and see its links with culture, religion and development. As some participants commented, a better understanding of these inter-related concerns helped them go deeper in their response to migrants. Fr Denis also shared a framework for looking at migration in receiving countries, which participants found useful. The framework comprises 4 elements – State, Labor market, Culture and Civil society.

Ms Jeong Guesun, Director of “Solidarity with Migrants” shared on the Korean  civil society’s response to migration. Participants learned about the migration situation in South Korea, the developments in migration policy and the role of activists. One of their main take-aways was an awareness that the current challenge in migration work was the empowerment and training of migrants themselves to become active for their own cause. In this regard, Ms Jeong observed that the Filipino migrants were the most well-organized in Korea because of the support of the Catholic Church. Regarding international co-operation, one key area in Ms Jeong’s opinion is the strengthening of the system in sending countries as this could prevent a lot of problems and abuse occurring in receiving countries. Both sides should work together to address the gaps in information, advocacy and preparation of migrants.

Participants also visited Hyehwadong Filipino Catholic Community (HFCC) and were struck by how well-organized it was as a migrant group. With over 1500 members and 200 volunteers in the council and sub-committees, the group was the largest Filipino community in South Korea. It benefits from the chaplaincy of a Filipino MSP priest and the generous support of the Seoul Archdiocese which provides a 4-storey building in the downtown area for their activities. Participants felt that the empowering and self-organizing way of the HFCC provided a useful best practice model which they could develop in their own countries.

Sharing by Centers: After the above inputs and exposure trip, participants shared about the work of their centers and the migration situation in their countries. From this sharing, participants learnt best practices from one another such as the importance of psychological aid, education of migrant children and the need to take up advocacy work to improve migration policies. Those serving migrants in receiving countries gained a deeper understanding of the migrants’ aspirations from the sharing of sending countries. Participants were deeply struck by the case of Nirmala, a domestic worker who was severely abused in Malaysia, and saw that one possibility for future joint action was to address such problems, which seemed more prevalent in South East Asia.

Participants’ reflections
After a time of reflection on Scripture and the inputs at the workshop, participants prayed and discerned about the needs of migrants to address as a top priority. The areas identified included the insecurity of migrants, their need for community, knowledge of their rights, better access to assistance in their own language, better preparation in their home country, fragility of family relationships and poverty alleviation to address the root causes of migration.

Looking at these inputs, it can be seen that a common thread is the participants’ keen sensitivity to the migrants’ perspective and their needs at every stage of the migration process. This probably comes from the participants’ concrete presence at the frontier accompanying migrants. Not surprisingly, this is similar to the philosophy of Jesuit Refugee Service. The JCAP migration project paper poses the question: “What will be the added value of the response of the Society of Jesus to the immense needs of migrants in our region?” From the participants’ reflection and inputs, the JCAP network’s niche contribution possibly lies in the ability to identify what’s needed based on close accompaniment of migrants, and a way of proceeding that sees things from their perspective.

Another striking point about the participants’ reflection was that it became more and more  obvious that to serve migrants effectively, centers in both sending and receiving countries needed to work together. This would make possible better preparation of migrants, exchange of information, accompaniment of migrants abroad and their families at home, education, pastoral care, access to services, protection of migrants’ rights and advocacy. This could be another niche role of the Society. The existence of this JCAP network of sending and receiving countries makes possible integrated service delivery. This is particularly important given that half of migration in Asia Pacific occurs within the region. In future, the network could also consider joint advocacy.

Joint action plan
Based on the participants’ suggestions, the following action plans were agreed upon:

1. Case handling between sending and receiving countries:
– A “case” is defined as a person moving from one place to another and needs help with some problems. When there is need to accompany a case from sending to receiving country or vice versa, an agreed procedure will be followed among our centers.
– This procedure will include contacting each other through email, cell phone etc. (a list of emergency contact numbers of network members was circulated) and providing information such as history of the case, information about the migrant, sender and recipient, address of contact office, etc.
– For the time being, financial expenses in case handling will be covered by the respective local institutions. (Brother Min will provide information about the addresses and procedure seeking financial help from the Joy and Share Foundation.)
– Once this procedure is implemented, it will be evaluated after 6 months or after 3-5 cases.

2. Joint accompaniment of migrant and family:
– To address the negative impact on family life, network members in sending and receiving countries will coordinate with each other in accompanying the migrant and his/her family. This includes migrants who have left their families behind in their home countries as well as marriages with foreign spouses.
– First, data on cases will be collected and the common problems will be analyzed.
– Improvements to services include programs for social gathering, providing education on cultural differences, providing therapy, providing education on family value and meaning, etc. and networking of persons in charge between receiving and sending countries.

3. Preparation of migrants: Education and orientation:
– Accurate information about destination countries is often lacking in the migrants’ home country.
– The JCAP network will collect all available information booklets/web sites from receiving countries (Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia) and provide copies to sending countries (Indonesia, China, Vietnam, Philippines, Myanmar, Thailand) where network members can distribute to those planning to go abroad.
– The information can also be used for pre-departure education and seminars.
– Later, the usefulness of the booklets will be evaluated.

The overall feeling about the workshop was one of consolation. Participants felt that the workshop enabled them to see the bigger picture and gain a deeper understanding of migrants especially from hearing the perspectives of sending countries for the first time. This has given them greater motivation, courage and deeper appreciation for the meaning of their work. For some, it has also inspired new ways of proceeding such as empowerment of migrants, building a pool of collaborators and addressing culture, religion and economic issues.

The workshop has helped to build relationships among the JCAP network members as well as with the Good Shepherd sisters. Although they acknowledged the challenges and workload ahead, participants felt that the migration common project has moved forward in a concrete way. The workshop has facilitated the “building of bridges” among sending and receiving countries and is thus a step towards the call of GC35. It was also apparent that a smaller and more focused meeting involving those directly working on the topic was a more fruitful approach. On-going communication within the network will be crucial.

Next steps
The network members will work on the action plans as listed above. A report on this meeting will be sent to the migration task force and JCAP office. JCAP will also continue to find a full-time coordinator for this network. One of the key tasks for this person will be to work with network members and facilitate greater integration of services, after the first steps taken at this meeting. Later, more can be done to work towards a fully-integrated accompaniment service for migrants across countries and this can perhaps be a new model for the social apostolate.

The next thing to work on would be advocacy. In this regard, the JCAP network needs to continue its reflection and dialogue on specific migration concerns so as to discern a common advocacy issue to address. This could perhaps be the focus of the next workshop.

Date: 30th May 2011

Special an Interview with Fr. General Adolfo Nicolas, SJ

Special an Interview with Fr. General Adolfo Nicolas, SJ
Social and Pastoral Bulletin issue: No. 147 / January 15th, 2009

This is an interview done by the Jesuit Social and Pastoral Bulletin to Fr. General Adolfo Nicolas, SJ on the occasion of his visit to Japan. Fr.Nicolas, with the assistance of Fr. Fernando Franco, SJ, the General Secretary for Social Apostolate, sent us a written answer to our questions. We added further comments of Fr. General upon meeting with him in Tokyo on December 25th, 2008. [Interviewer: Ando Isamu, SJ.]

Question: Can we think of some new emphasis or orientations for the Jesuit social apostolate after the last General Congregation 35?

Answer: In its Decree on Mission, GC 35 re-affirms the commitment of the Society of Jesus to proclaiming and living a faith that is engaged in the justice of the Kingdom and in dialogue with other cultures and religions. In this sense, the social apostolate continues to be rooted in this vision of our Jesuit charisma.

There are, however, some elements that can help the social and other apostolates to respond better to the challenges facing us today. The mission of the Society is described as our commitment to join Jesus Christ in reconciling the entire universe to the Father. Our specific action with and for the poor needs to be understood as an effort to build bridges among those who have and those who have not. This action needs also to be integrated with the call to reconcile human beings with God and creation. There is a conscious determination to see the social apostolate, our action for justice as a complex act which touches not only our relationships with one another but also the way we relate to God and to the entire creation. Our promotion of justice is embedded in our effort to help people (“souls”) engage in discovering their true selves and their care for our common earth.

In the social apostolate, as well as in other ministries, there is a new accent on ‘networking,’ rather than having a strong basis, particularly because the problems have all become universal, like poverty, unemployment, violence, and so forth. It is only through ‘networking’ that we can respond to them and, thus, they also provide opportunities for multi-based answers.
I would say, personally, that all our concerns are modified by the needs surrounding us. We don’t have concerns of our own, but the real concerns are those of the world: poverty, unemployment, violence, education, etc.
I was very impressed by a recent article of “Cristianisme i Justicia” that talks about 4 contracts that offer a vision for our involvement:

1- Social Contract: All nations and everybody should work against poverty, unemployment, etc.

2- Natural Contract: We have spoiled nature with our consumerist habits and we must live more simply

3- Cultural Contract: Education for everyone, nobody is excluded. A very important concern for us, for our priority for extraordinary good schools or for an education that can help other schools or for the country to provide education to all

4- Ethical Contract: To treat people as people and not as things. An ethical recovery of values and humanity, the meaning of life.

These will be the context on which we reconsider all the time our involvements, our concerns in the social apostolate.

Question: Which are the main and more relevant tasks to the social apostolate within the overall Jesuit apostolic mission?

Answer: On the basis of this general vision the social apostolate responds to a great variety of contexts and situations with concrete interventions. Looking at this great variety of challenges and responses we may emphasize three types of tasks
The task of accompanying the poor. Jesuits continue to accompany the poor and excluded. This is a task demanding great doses of humility, and a vocation to listen patiently. We may remember the Jesuits accompanying indigenous and tribal communities in Latin America and Asia. I would like to remember also the commitment of the social apostolate to the cause of the Dalit community in India; those who work in poor and degraded urban areas with young dropouts and members of gangs; those who accompany women and children suffering from HIV/AIDS. In some cases, accompaniment is complemented with the provision of basic social services like education and health.

The task of analyzing and reflecting on the ultimate causes of injustice. For us Jesuits accompanying is not enough. We are called to exercise a “learned ministry” and reflect on the ultimate causes of poverty and exclusion. There are many social centres engaged in social research; collaboration between the social apostolate and Jesuit Universities to study and analyse social issues is rapidly increasing. Without being exhaustive I can mention existing collaboration in the area of migration, climate warming and its effects on the poor, forced displacement by so called development, impact of small credit cooperatives on rural women, and on issues of food security. We need, I think, to move ahead on this road and find concrete ways of establishing forms of inter-ministry collaboration. I know the example of a province where a memorandum of understanding has been signed between a recently constituted network of social centres and the Jesuit University.
I would like also to point out to a third and important task: influencing public policy and the centres of power where decisions affecting the poor are taken. In more precise terms this has been called advocacy. Our commitment to establish right relationships implies engaging those having political power at all levels on issues and policies that affect the poor. It is not acting on behalf of the poor but enabling the voices of the excluded to be heard with respect. This again is not a new task. There are many Jesuits and collaborators working in the defence of human rights. At this moment social centres in Africa, Europe and the United States are monitoring a number of extractive foreign companies in central Africa. Jesuits have supported an important group that helps indigenous communities in the Amazonia to fight for their land. There is also a serious effort to advocate for housing for the poor in the United States. Very recently Jesuits and collaborators have held an International Workshop on Advocacy and the results are promising.

These days “advocacy” is coming to the front. It is a search for effectiveness so that it brings up results, but we cannot remain fixed on to this effectiveness that might take all our energies.
The fact is that some problems can never be solved. Now, how to be present to the people who are suffering from real problems, without letting our hope be lost even if the results are not good?

Question: How do social centres function (or maybe should function) within super-provincial networks?

Answer: In a “globalised” world, and in moments of an acute financial, economic and social crisis, social centres need to be rooted in the local, but have to act globally. A great effort is going on to articulate social centres in Assistancy/Conference networks and to operate in connection with other platforms. We have realized that networking as an apostolic instrument requires clear objectives, and dedication of personnel and finances. Networking is not a club of friends exchanging pleasantries. Networking cannot be one more activity that we add to the already overburdened agenda of those working in our social centres. Networking is also a way to enhance the principle of subsidiarity: in a circle of connected hubs (social centres) established in different countries, each hub can lead the others in different themes or campaigns. This method respects autonomy and strengthens solidarity and universality.

I personally think that Social Centers are the basis for systematic reflection, analysis and coordination. They stress social awareness, advocacy and discernment regarding priority issues. On the other hand, individuals, some usually very busy, find it very hard to do the same, but the centers invite to a coordinated response. One of the problems of people who are very busy with other things is ‘dispersion,’ lack of focus and concentration.
Today with such good communications systems the desire to solve too many problems makes us very ineffective. We must keep an eye on the energy and work already existing so that it does not get destroyed and so that we keep our priorities clear.

Question: Jesuits somehow know about JRS; but what has been done at Jesuit level, Research and Action included, with regard to (1) Poverty alleviation, (2) Migration, (3) Global economic crisis and (4) mass unemployment?

Answer: We suffer both from an indigestion of useless information and from lack of significant data about what we are doing. We need also to acknowledge that we are not called to solve these enormous global issues facing humanity. We need realism and humility to know our limitations and to be able to concentrate in what we can do and do it with others.

Let me, however, note in passing the joint programme between social centres and Jesuit Universities in Latin America to tackle the complex issue of poverty. We may remember the dedicated work of many social centres in Europe to promote awareness on the Millennium Goals. The two Jesuit Conferences of Latin America and the United States have signed a memorandum to tackle the issue of migration. The Jesuit network of migration in Latin America is working in close collaboration with the Jesuit network of Southern Europe.

We need to join our voices and our efforts to many others who are today analysing the consequences of the global crisis we are facing. We have not fully understood the extent of its impact on the poor. I am convinced that many of our social centres and universities are already in dialogue to find out the best way of responding to this crisis.
Let me end with a reflection that may help us avoid past mistakes. Following a well known Ignatian principle we must do our best as if the result depended entirely on our effort, knowing that everything depends on God. We need to confront our desire to achieve success, as quickly as possible. The principle of Ignatian indifference and the Asian principle of acting in a manner that is also detached from the fruits of our action are very important.

Different continents are responding to needs in different and various ways. In Brazil, for instance, linking ecology and poverty. In the issues of migration, there are sending countries, like the Philippines or African countries and the accepting countries, Japan, Europe, the United States, etc. Now, our question is how to interrelate all?
All these concerns are present in the Society of Jesus at various levels. The involvement of JRS is clear and a lot of things are happening these days. There is the issue of networking and reflection, as well.
These global problems invite us to work differently. They are the context where humanity is struggling, suffering and looking for solutions. We need discernment to reflect on what can we do with our limited resources. Many initiatives are taking place and other people are already deeply involved. How can we cooperate with other networks? Our tendency is to do our ‘Jesuit thing’ but this is not viable any more. Here we find many ways to provide service to others..