Labor export and associated remittances have become an important solution by the Vietnamese government to create jobs and alleviate poverty in rural communities. Each year, tens of thousands of Vietnamese leave the country to work overseas.
Japan and Taiwan have in recent years become the primary destinations, accounting for the majority of the country’s total labor force working overseas. Along with the growing number of migrant exports came the reports of unfair labor practices in recent years. GFEMS commissioned research to estimate the prevalence of labor trafficking victimization and other abusive employment practices among Vietnamese migrant workers to Japan and Taiwan.
If these findings were of any indication, the victims of human trafficking would number in the tens of thousands among those who worked in Japan and Taiwan.
This brief summarizes the key findings of a study designed to estimate the prevalence of forced labor among Vietnamese migrant workers returning from Japan and Taiwan. The study was conducted by the University of Massachusetts Lowell, John Jay College, and the Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences. The findings shed light on the prevalence with which forced labor conditions may be occurring among this population of migrants, including statistics on industries at highest risk. Prevalence research helps us understand where risks of modern slavery may be more acute, helping target the mitigation and remediation efforts of private sector, civil society, and government stakeholders.
Select Key Findings
Abuses at the Workplace
- Overall, 27% of migrant workers reported experiencing at least one form of restricted freedom either limiting physical movement or communication.
- Rates were higher among migrants traveling to Taiwan (31.18%) compared to Japan (17.81%).
- The most frequent restriction of personal freedom was the confiscation of identification paperwork, accounting for 13.10% of the total sample. This practice was far less common in Japan (2.46%) than in Taiwan (18.0%).
Prevalence of Forced Labor
- Overall, 8.33% of workers who had most recently traveled to Japan were counted as probable cases of labor trafficking.
- Meanwhile, 16.09% of workers who most recently travelled to Taiwan were counted as probable cases of labor trafficking.
This study quantified the rate of forced labor among a sample of returned Vietnamese migrants from Japan and Taiwan. The findings showed that 13.65% of the sample could be characterized as having experienced forced labor while working overseas. If one were to extrapolate that ratio to the number of migrant workers who had migrated during the same period of 2012-2016 (274,890 to Taiwan and 107,975 to Japan) as that of the study sample, more than 50,000 of them may have been subjected to forced labor while abroad. In other words, if these findings were of any indication, the victims of human trafficking would number in the tens of thousands among those who worked in Japan and Taiwan.
For the full findings and implications of the study, download the briefing or the full report.