Megha Wadhwa: Indian cooks in Japan at the mercy of their bosses and the state? – Impacts of COVID-19
Indian cooks in Japan at the mercy of their bosses and the state? – Impacts of COVID-19
The salary of a cook working in an Indian restaurant in Tokyo averages between ￥50,000 and ￥150,000 per month depending on their experience and the owner of the restaurant. The average Indian cook’s life revolves around the restaurant as they spend most of their waking hours at the restaurant and most of them share accommodation with the other cooks they work with. The presentation would reflect on the impact of COVID-19 on the cooks who are in a challenging position, having lost work hours and income and with hardly any opportunities outside of Indian restaurant industry due to their limited education and language skills. On the other hand, the owners are struggling with the financial and occupational risks. Through the voices of both the owners and the cooks, Megha would document the experiences within a single ethnic community, and even a single enterprise, that has been tested by the virus. She would also show a 7-minute documentary in which the cooks share their work experiences in India and Japan.Megha Wadhwa is a Research Associate at Institute of East Asian Studies/Japanese Studies, Free University Berlin. She is also a visiting fellow at the Institute of Comparative Culture, Sophia University Tokyo. Her research focuses since 2013 has focused on the Indian Diaspora in Japan. She has written several articles on the Indian Community for The Japan Times and is also the author of Indian Migrants in Tokyo: A Study of Socio-Cultural, Religious and Working Worlds. (Routledge 2021). She has been conducting research about Indian migrant restaurateurs and cooks since 2017 as part of the Sophia Research Project on Priority Areas ‘Refugees and new migrant support: the role of the Church, other religious groups, and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in the sustainable social integration of the displaced population into Japan’. Megha will be presenting her recently published paper: “In the Age of COVID-19 – Indian restaurants and the Indian cooks in Japan” in the Asia Pacific Journal: Japan Focus.
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