Managing Movements of People for Security and Prosperity in East Asia: Roles of Civil Society

February 1–2, 2015

The UN estimates that there were 71 million international migrants in Asia in 2013. As globalization and regional ties in East Asia have progressed, a critical question has arisen: How can nations manage the movements of people in such a way that ensures individual, national, and regional security and prosperity? And what role does civil society have to play in that process?

These were the questions being examined by a multinational group of researchers this week who met in Tokyo as part of a JCIE project on the Movement of People in East Asia and the Role of Civil Society, which was supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. This was the group’s second meeting, and they were discussing their draft papers, which are to be published in a book this summer.

Migration is an indispensable part of the economic integration and demographic changes occurring in this region. In addition to the natural flow of people, migration—if it is effectively managed—can be a policy option for nations seeking to eliminate mismatches between demand and supply in the labor market.

At this meeting, project members noted that the movements of people should be managed throughout the spectrum of the various types of cross-border activities—including smuggling, trafficking, and labor migration—under the concept of “safe migration.” They noted that NGOs and other civil society organizations are playing a critical role by raising public awareness of the issues pertaining to migration—including awareness of the rights and obligations of migrants—providing social and legal services, conducting policy research and advocacy from the perspective of human rights and human security, and so on. However NGOs face tremendous challenges, including a lack of resources and a lack of coordination between the sending and receiving countries.

In order to keep migration issues high on the policy agenda and to attract attention and resources, those working on migration need to capitalize on the post-MDG discussions and think about more integrated and comprehensive responses to migration, bringing in sectoral issues such as health and business to the discussion of migration and engaging various stakeholders in the discussion.

February 1

Fangmeng Tian, Beijing Normal University
Comments: Yasushi Iguchi, Kwansei Gakuin University

Avyanthi Azis, University of Indonesia
Comments: Supang Chantavanich, Chulalongkorn University

Moe Thuzar, Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore
Comments: Supang Chantavanich

Jorge V. Tigno, University of the Philippines
Comments: Supang Chantavanich

Nguyen Thanh Liem, Institute for Population, Health and Development, Vietnam

Toshihiro Menju, JCIE/Japan
Comments: Yasushi Iguchi

Hye Jin Lee, JCIE/Japan
Comments: Yasushi Iguchi

Mathew Mathews, Institute of Policy Studies, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy
Comments: Yasushi Iguchi

February 2

Roundtable on possible regional strategy for people-centered approach to managing movement of people—roles of civil society and collaboration with other sectors
Mely Caballero-Anthony, Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies, RSIS, Nanyang Technological University

Regional Initiatives:
Atsuko Yokobori Geiger, Director of Operations, JCIE/USA
William Barriga, Mission Chief, IOM Tokyo Country Office
Supang Chantavanich
Yasushi Iguchi


William Barriga

Mission Chief, IOM Tokyo Country Office (only Monday meeting)

Supang Chantavanich

Director, Asian Research Center for Migration, Institute of Asian Studies, Chulalongkorn University, Thailand

Yasushi Iguchi

Professor, School of Economics, Kwansei Gakuin University, Japan

Research Team


Mely Caballero-Anthony

Associate Professor and Head of the Centre for Non-Traditional Security (NTS) Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

Toshihiro Menju

Managing Director and Chief Program Officer, Japan Center for International Exchange (JCIE)

Alphabetical Order

Avyanthi Azis

Lecturer, Department of International Relations, University of Indonesia

Hye Jin Lee

Program Associate, JCIE

Mathew Mathews

Senior Research Fellow, Institute of Policy Studies, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore

Nguyen Thanh Liem

Deputy Director, Institute for Population, Health and Development, Vietnam

Moe Thuzar

Lead Researcher (socio-cultural), ASEAN Studies Centre ISEAS Fellow, Myanmar Studies Programme, Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore

Fangmeng Tian

Assistant Professor, School of Social Development and Public Policy, Beijing Normal University, China

Jorge V. Tigno

Associate Professor and Chair, Department of Political Science, University of the Philippines

Atsuko Yokobori Geiger

Director of Operations, JCIE/USA


Akio Okawara

President and CEO, JCIE

Hideko Katsumata

Executive Director and COO, JCIE

Tomoko Suzuki

Senior Program Officer, JCIE

Marcel Delany

Intern, JCIE