Economic competition

Globalization and Labor Market Flexibility

Globalization has broadened local and national perspectives while also encouraging financial, economic, and communication integration. Furthermore, globalization has facilitated the free flow of workers from one country to another. As a result, many organizations are hiring workers from all over the world and becoming more flexible in their labor contracts. Flexibility in the labor market has expanded in many regions of the world over the years, affecting both immigrant and native-born employees. Increased flexibility in labor has led to the polarization of staff in the primary and secondary sectors. Countries experiencing difficult economic situations make emigration of workers an attractive choice for its citizens. Immigration labor reduces unemployment, eases pressure on the labor market and speeds up development. Immigrant laborers can further provide labor on part-time, fixed-term, temporary or independent contract basis. The mobility of labor has encouraged the existence of racial and ethnic preferences for immigrant workers in the host countries. Ethnic preference refers to the selection of one individual or group over another basing on ethnic background, while racial preference is the selection of one group or individual based on their race. This essay will analyze the kind of ethnic or racial preferences that employers in Japan and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member states have for the recruitment of migrant labor. In addition, the essay will give reasons why these preferences differ.

Ethnic and Racial Preferences for Japan Employers

For a long time, Japan had experienced economic changes that create a demand of labor exceeding the Domestic supply. Globalization encourages labor market flexibility in Japan and consequently affects the employment situation of native workers and immigrant workers (Douglass and Roberts, 2015). Globalization has also made Japanese employers have ethnic and racial preferences when seeking employees resulting in segmented labor markets into primary and secondary markets. Previous sources of labor in Japan included rural workers and the youth. However, this source of labor started depleting.

Preference for Nikkeijin

The employers in Japan prefer immigrants from Latin American countries and refer to them as the Nikkeijin to mean descendants of Japanese emigrants. The Japanese employers and government prefer the Nikkeijin since they believed that the ethnic community shared same ethnic origins as the Japanese. Moreover, Takenoshita (2013) maintained that employers and government believed that since they shared the same origins, the Nikkeijin, would automatically be culturally assimilated into the Japanese society and various organizational cultures. The shared values and beliefs of the Nikkeijin people would make it easier for employers to incorporate them to their organizations. Most of the Migrant employees in Japan are from Brazil and statistics indicate that by 1989, Brazilian employees in Japan exceeded 100,000 and by 2007 their population was over 300,000 (Takenoshita, 2013). In 1980s-1990s many Nikkeijin workers in Japan were employed on contract basis, although some employers in Japan directly employ Brazilian immigrants into employment, most manufacturers rely on contracting companies and agencies in temporary employment to supply them with laborers (Takenoshita, 2013). Japanese employers accepted guest workers and immigrant laborers due to economic, demographic and social trends in Japan. Most, youths in Japan are unwilling to perform dangerous, difficult and dirty work as an increasing number of the youths receive a better education. Besides, fertility rates in Japan are also reducing hence shrinking the size of Japanese workforce (Komai, 2012). Such circumstance makes employees sought immigrant laborer from Latin America since immigrant and guest workers are willing to do the dirty, dangerous and difficult jobs and are mostly made up of young populations. Labor market segmentation encourages low wages, unstable employment conditions and limited chances of career advancement in Japanese secondary markets (Takenoshita, 2013). Segmentation discourages Japanese natives' workers. In such circumstances, Japan employers have sought services of immigrant workers as well as guest workers from other countries (Komai, 2012). In primary markets, the Japanese employers are required to invest in their workers by educating and training them to obtain employment stability. However, in secondary markets; employers do not train their employees; instead workers hold unskilled jobs and can be easily dismissed from employment. For that reason, employers prefer workers from Nikkeijin who can work in the secondary markets. For employers, it is easy to employ Nikkeijin people since they are flexible and easy to deal with. For example, the foreign laborers accepted to be employed on contractual basis (Takenoshita, 2013). Furthermore, since the immigrant workers from Latin America work in the secondary markets, they are able to provide cheap labor that reduces the cost for many employers; Nikkeijin workers in secondary markets need no training and can accept lower wages as opposed to native Japanese workers.

Ethnic preferences of GCC employers

The GCC states include Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates (Kapiszewski, 2006). After the discovery of oil in these states, many companies started employing expatriate labor forces. However, employers have preferred labor forces determined by various factors which include gender, religion, and nationality. For various economic, social and political reasons, employers have preferences for various nationalities who seek employment in GCC states. At the onset of the oil era, many employers were preferring immigrant laborers from neighboring Arab states (Jain and Oommen, 2015). Large groups of the Arabs immigrant worker in GCC are Egyptians, Yemenis, Omanis, Iraqis, Palestinians, Syrians and Sudanese (Kapiszewski, 2006). However, with an upsurge in oil reserve profits, employers began welcoming Asian expatriates from Pakistan, Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

Preference for Arab Workers

Oil industries had a preference for Arab workers and particularly welcomed them for several reasons. The linguistic compatibility of Immigrant workers from other Arab speaking nations with local populations of GCC states made them attractive. Espinoza, Fayad, and Prasad, (2013) added that employers’ preferred employee who can speak the Arabic language to reduce communication barriers. For firms, communication is vital for success and increased productivity. In addition to their linguistic compatibility, immigrants from other Arabic nations share religion as well as cultural dimensions. According to Kapiszewski, (2006), religious and cultural compatibility is advantageous to employers in GCC states as it encourages freedom of speech, reduces the costs of training and encourages respect and integration within an organization.

Preference for Asian Workers

For political, historical, political, economic and logical explanations, industries started welcoming Asian workers to GCC states as opposed to non-local Arabs for fear that the non-local Arabs were bringing in radical political and social concepts in Gulf authorities. Some Arab expatriates initiated anti-government activities in the Gulf States, anti-government activities led to the prosecution, deportation, and jailing of non-local Arabs (Jain and Oommen, 2015). Arab expatriates in GCC states also engaged in labor strikes which threatened GCC states internal security hence making employers prefer Asian workers. The other reasons why employers in GCC states choose Asian expatriates over Arabs is the fact that Asian workers seeking employment in GCC states are always willing to leave their families at home and do not desire for permanent residence. For Arab immigrant workers, they value their families and will always move with them wherever they go; Arab emigrants employed in GCC bring their families with the hope of having permanent settlement against GCC states authorities will (Kapiszewski, 2006). Acquiring and recruiting Asian immigrant workers is also easy for many Gulf employers. Asian governments are always involved in recruitment and placement process of workers hence facilitating the smooth movement of workers to GCC states. Asian government involvement in recruitment and placing helps firms in the Gulf region have a constant and consistent supply of manpower that fully satisfies their needs. Likewise, the cost of bringing Asian workers to GCC states is much easier since GCC states have closer historical and geographical links to some Asian parts than with other distant Arab world. Employing firms and industries in GCC always seek cheap sources. Similarity, many industries have confirmed that Asian worker provides cheaper sources of labor when compared to local and non-local Arabs. The cost of employing Asians is low hence allowing companies to maximize their profits with reduced costs (Espinoza, Fayad and Prasad, 2013). Other employers further prefer Asian workers since they are more efficient, manageable and obedient and easy to layoff. They perform their duties on time and offer excellent outcomes (Kapiszewski, 2006). Lastly, many Asian immigrant laborers are Muslims and the religiously-sensitive Arab employers feel comfortable having people who share same religious and cultural aspects around.

Why the Ethnic and Racial Preferences Differ

The recruitment and selection of migrant labor are a complex, poorly defined and inconsistent that varies widely depending on the destination country, labor source, sector, and occupation. The factors that determine racial or ethnic preference for the GCC member states and Japan differ for a number of reasons. GCC member states have several sources for migrant labors because they are open to migration from several nations unlike Japan (Kapiszewski, 2006). Japanese employers are rigid in their preferred migrant labors since they only have a preference for Latin Americans (Takenoshita, 2013). GCC employers have several factors that guide their preference for certain ethnic or racial immigrant labors; the factors include language, nationality, gender and religion.

Language and Ethnic Groupings

Language and ethnic groupings is a predominant factor in defining the difference in preference on the side of employers in Japan and the GCC member states (Komai, 2012). GCC member states provided a safe haven for the migrants from Arabic nations like Egypt, Yemen, and Sudan amongst other. The Arab workers were preferred by employers from the GCC member states because of their linguistic, cultural and religious compatibility with the local community. However, with time the GCC member states started welcoming other Asian migrants into their workforce, but the migrants were limited to Muslims (Kapiszewski, 2006). The change of mind to welcome non-Arab Muslims was because they were less expensive; they were more skilled, efficient, obedient and manageable. Besides, the non-Arab Muslims migrated to the destination counters without their, unlike the Arabs, this aspect made them more flexible to shift and easier to accommodate. Similarly, the Japanese employers preferred the Latin Americans (Nikkeijin) specifically from Brazil since they believed they shared culture, language and religious practices (Takenoshita, 2013). The Latin Americans who are mainly drawn from Brazil are given the privileged status of residence in japans descendants of Japanese.

Nationality Perception

Nationality perception is an important determinant in guiding racial and ethnic preferences of migrant labors into the GCC member states (Randeree, 2012). The major migrant inflows are from Asian countries including Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Pakistan. Nepali workers are often preferred because the countries of destination perceive the Nepalese as obedient, dependable and hardworking. Pakistanis are preferred by GCC member states because they are viewed as less qualified and can suitably work in agricultural farms, drivers or as semiskilled workers in the construction sectors (Randeree, 2012). Migrants from Bangladesh are considered competitive in terms of readiness to take low wages. Indian workers, on the other hand, are preferred migrant labors because the employers in GCC member states view them as more professional than other labors for other Asian states. Indian is viewed as one of the Asian nations with a good supply of professional workers.


Education is another factor that brings the difference in employers’ preference for migrant employees from certain ethnic or racial groups in Japan and in GCC (Kondo, 2015). GCC member states expanded their target regions for drawing labors to fill the gaps in skilled manpower. The GCC members relaxed their restrictions on non-Arab migrant labors to open their labor market to other Asian countries. According to Douglass and Roberts (2015), Japan has been strict on their intake for immigrants restricting to Latin Americans to fill in the positions of unskilled workers. The level of education was in the past not much consideration for the Japanese employers, but the trends are changing. According to Brody (2012), the Japanese employers are reluctantly acknowledging that their long-cherished sense of ethnic homogeneity may be unrealizable with the increasing effects of globalization, the changing domestic needs like labor shortages and growth in aging population. Consequently, the Japanese authorities are opening their borders and reconsideration their immigration policies to create room for Japanese employers to source for employees globally.


The issue of gender is in labor markets factor in the GCC member states because of their religious and traditional norms. For example in Saudi Arabia, the women are not allowed to work in the presence of men (Takenoshita, 2013). The GCC preferred non-Arab Muslim migrant labors because they did not travel with their families. GCC member states for a long time did not accept female workers, and so workers who traveled with their families added extra household occupants who were no beneficial to the employers. Conversely, in Japan, the issue of gender does not play a key role in guiding ethnic preference because all genders are allowed to work.


Employers hire immigrants and guest workers due to difficulty in hiring native workers. The employer cannot attract native staff due to low wages, unstable economic conditions, and limited chances for career growth in the secondary sector. Ethnic or racial extraction plays a significant role in influencing preference by employers in Japan and GCC member states. Japanese employers, for instance, prefer hiring an employee from Latin America particularly the Nikkeijin people whom they consider share same ethnic origins with Japanese population and can, therefore, be assimilated to Japanese society with ease. On the contrary, GCC states employers used to prefer expatriates from Arabs states as they share same cultures, language, and religion. However, the trends changed and GCC member states started pursuing labors from other Asian nations who were non-Arab Muslims. The increased globalization has further opened the GCC labor markets to accommodate workers from all corners globally. The difference in ethnic or racial preference by Japanese and GCC member states’ employers is because the Japanese for a long time cherished a sense of ethnic homogeneity that favored Latin Americans. Conversely, the GCC member states considered a number of issues including language, nationality, gender, and religion.


Brody, B.T., 2012. Opening the doors: Immigration, ethnicity, and globalization in Japan. Routledge.

Douglass, M. and Roberts, G.S., 2015. Japan and global migration: Foreign workers and the advent of a multicultural society. University of Hawaii Press.

Espinoza, R. A., Fayad, G., and Prasad, A. (2013). The macroeconomics of the Arab States of the Gulf. Oxford, Oxford University Press.

Jain, P.C. and Oommen, G.Z. eds., 2015. South Asian Migration to Gulf Countries: History, Policies, Development. Routledge.

Kapiszewski, A., 2006. Arab versus Asian migrant workers in the GCC countries. South Asian migration to Gulf countries: History, policies, development, pp.46-70.

Komai, H., 2012. Migrant workers in Japan. Routledge.

Kondo, A., 2015. Migration and law in Japan. Asia & the Pacific Policy Studies, 2(1), pp.155-168.

Randeree, K., 2012. Workforce nationalization in the Gulf Cooperation Council states. Browser Download This Paper.

Surak, K., 2013. Guestworker regimes: A taxonomy. The New Left Review, (84), pp.84-102.

Takenoshita, H., 2013. Labour market flexibilization and the disadvantages of immigrant employment: Japanese-Brazilian immigrants in Japan. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 39(7), pp.1177-1195.

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