News/Japan: Govt, NGO officials meet on Thai women's problems

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Subject: News/Japan: Govt, NGO officials meet on Thai women's problems
From: Melanie Orhant (morhant@igc.org)
Date: Sat Oct 02 1999 - 15:10:43 EDT


Govt, NGO officials meet on Thai women's problems
Yomiuri Shimbun
Daily Yomiuri, September 28, 1999

About 100 participants, including Post and Telecommunications Minister
Seiko Noda, discussed solutions to the problems faced by Thai women
illegally working in Japan, at a seminar held Monday in Tokyo.

The one-day seminar, the first of its kind, was organized by the Thai
Embassy to allow government officials and nongovernmental organizations
>from Japan and Thailand to establish contacts in dealing with the situation.

"It should be women who take the initiative in dealing with problems facing
Thai women in Japan," said Noda, the only female minister in the Obuchi
Cabinet, during the morning session of the seminar.

Supatra Masdit, Thai Prime Minister's Office minister responsible for women
affairs, said in her speech that her government is trying its best to
discourage Thai women from getting involved in the sex industry abroad.

She said Bangkok is trying to create jobs for young Thai women in their own
country, since poverty is considered a major reason many come to Japan to
work. Supatra said the Thai Embassy also lends money to help women
overstaying their visas in Japan return to Thailand.

In the afternoon session, NGO representatives stressed to officials of the
Thai Embassy and of the Justice Ministry's Immigration Bureau the
importance of making information available to Thai women in their own
language. There is a particular demand for interpreters for Thai women
arrested on suspicion of prostitution or overstaying their visas, the
representatives said.

According to the Thai government, more than 30,000 Thai women were working
illegally in Japan as of March. Although this number appears to be a sharp
drop from previous years, most of the women are still involved in the sex
industry or face poor or unhealthy working conditions, embassy officials said.

Melanie Orhant
morhant@igc.org
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