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Lecture Series: “Issues in Asia and the International Labour Organization”

4th Session: ILO’s Technical Cooperation Activity

Wednesday, December 16th, 2009

The International Labour Office in Japan, Aoyama Gakuin University, and the World Bank Tokyo Development Learning Center (TDLC) jointly held the fourth session of “Issues in Asia and the International Labour Organization” at TDLC on November 19

This lecture series started on October 29, and will continue on through January 7th.  In the lectures, foreign and Japanese experts who work globally through the ILO introduce current labor issues to the Japanese audience.

Tran Thi Hoa/World Bank, 2002

In a session held on November 19, ILO Office in Japan Deputy-Director Masahiko Hayashi first outlined the organization’s mission and its activities to promote decent work for all. Hayashi shed light on the concept of “decent work”, the underlying principle that guides the organization’s technical cooperation and capacity building programs.  Occupational Safety and Health Specialist Tsuyoshi Kawakami was connected from ILO’s Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific in Bangkok to talk about the organization’s technical cooperation activities in Asia.

Kawakami began with an overview of the concept of “informal economy”.  He pointed out that approximately a billion people, comprising over 60% of the labor force in Asia, are currently engaged in “informal economies.” He indicated that these are people who work at home or are street vendors, in waste collection, small-scale construction, agriculture, or fisheries. As they fall through the safety nets provided by their respective domestic occupational safety and social security framework, support for these “informal economy” workers is a priority for the ILO, Kawakami said. 

Kawakami highlighted case studies of participatory training for occupational safety in informal economies in Thailand and Cambodia, and in the actual workplaces of small and medium enterprises.

In his PowerPoint presentation, Kawakami showed learning materials used in workplace safety education along with photographs taken at training sessions as well as images of equipment before and after their newly-added safety features. 

The latter half of the session covered asbestos and the AH1N1 virus, which are also areas of concern for Japan.  Kawakami explained the measures being implemented by the ILO in the Asian region.

The session attracted a broad range of participants ranging from students, NGO and NPO workers, and public administrators to human resources personnel from private companies. Various opinions were heard in the post-lecture Q&A session. A high level of interest in international labor issues could be seen among participants, many of whom were repeat attendees who had come to previous lectures of the series. 

“It’s very educational –a different topic is discussed each time,” remarked a female first-year university student.  A corporate HR specialist called it “a good opportunity to compare the labor standards in Japanese companies against international standards.” 

“Issues in Asia and the International Labour Organization” had initially been planned as a series of four lectures, but due to strong demand, additional sessions have been underway.

The final session, “ILO’s Crisis Response and Restoration / Reconstruction Activity including Experiences in Aceh” will take place on January 7, 2010.

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