In this article I consider recent policies on care provision in Japan, including the employment of immigrant workers. My discussion is framed by Michel Foucault's concepts of ‘biopower’ and ‘biopolitics’: a mode of governmentality focused on the management of populations. In the current age of economic globalization, however, biopolitics also crosses national boundaries. Raewyn Connell has described a ‘global gender order’ whereby gender relations are shaped by power structures which transcend the level of the nation-state. This involves the connections between different local gender orders and gender orders which transcend the scale of the nation-state. The migration of care workers involves gendered structures in both sending and receiving countries, in interaction with other dimensions of difference, including class, caste, ethnicity and racialized positioning. In order to understand the relationships between the providers and receivers of care, it is necessary to bring together the insights of the nation-focused concept of biopolitics and the multileveled perspective of the ‘global order of inequality’ and the ‘global order of difference’. Between the local and the global, there are also regional orders of inequality and regional orders of difference; care work involves relationships which are put into practice at local, intimate, interpersonal and embodied levels.