business

ACCJ urges immigration law revision to allow hiring of foreign domestic workers

13 Comments

The American Chamber of Commerce in Japan (ACCJ) is calling on the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and the government of Japan led by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to implement a foreign domestic worker (FDW) program to facilitate the participation of Japanese women in the workforce.

The ACCJ recommends that Japanese law and regulations be amended to (1) allow Japanese citizens and permanent residents to sponsor foreign domestic help, on the basis that the sponsor can show that the household in question earns a combined household income of over seven million yen; (2) permit domestic workers to work for multiple families, including those of Japanese and permanent residents; (3) grant permanent residents and single Japanese citizens eligibility to sponsor foreign domestic help for elderly care, if they earn an annual income of over seven million yen.

The chair of the ACCJ's Labor Diversification Task Force, Bryan A Norton, said, “Japan is facing an inevitable demographic crisis due to a rapidly aging society and a shrinking birthrate. By 2060, the total population is expected to fall to about 87 million people, and 40% of those people will be elderly. The workforce will also fall from 64% of the total population today to 51%. By raising Japan’s relatively low female employment rate of 60% to match its male employment rate of 80%, Japan could increase its workforce by 8.2 million people and raise its GDP by 15%. We ask the Japanese government to create an FDW program to help Japanese women re-enter the workforce and contribute to Japan’s economic productivity.”

“Also in terms of attracting the best talent from abroad, Japan needs to be aware that many highly skilled workers will be bringing their families with them. Efforts to attract highly skilled foreigners to Japan must include support for foreign women to allow them to raise their families as free of stress as possible,” Norton added.

Kumi Sato, vice-chair of the Labor Diversification Task Force, also noted, “The Japanese government has the opportunity to increase participation of working women through relaxing its current immigration policy towards foreign domestic workers. In order to increase female employment, the issues of insufficient staffing and facilities for child care and elderly care must be addressed. Immigration policies need to be revised to allow greater flexibility in the hiring of foreigners as domestic workers, in order to provide women with another option for child care resources. As proven by other countries that utilize foreign domestic worker programs — such as Singapore and Hong Kong — expanding the availability of domestic helpers could greatly relieve many of the domestic burdens that make it difficult for women to work.”

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13 Comments
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what, all those expats finding trouble cleaning up their tiny apartments which they complain about being too small just open two windows and let the breeze do the work dahlings

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Wow! I meet the income criterion, but I never thought I was rich enough to have a servant! Looks like I was wrong...

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

The ACCJ is truly delusional. I just don't see the typical upper-middle class Japanese household going through the trouble of sponsoring a non-Japanese-speaking stranger to spend time in their home. I'm sure this would make a lot of expat residents happy, but getting domestic help for that tiny segment of the population isn't exactly going to do the trick demographically...

5 ( +5 / -0 )

I'm a little concerned that a lot of these "domestic workers" would end up working in soaplands and similar professions. The professions are already almost exclusively staffed by foreign workers, and I cannot help think that making it easier for low qualified, low paid female workers to enter Japan would increase the quantity of human trafficking in Japan.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

$74,390 a year is meeting the criteria. Hell yhea, that IS enough for a servant.

I clear barely $24,000 a year and consider myself making more than most.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Duskin brings in a crew that makes your place look like new in a day. I wouldn't mind a parttime maid, but there ARE alternatives.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It's quite easy to get a Filipino maid in Taiwan/HK and look at their birthrate(worst that Japan), at least their women participation in the workforce is higher than Japan. I don't think it would hurt to allow it but again only English-speaking Japanese and foreign residents would most likely hire these domestic helpers. My guess is that if it's allowed the Japanese government will require them to speak Japanese so in the end only a few dozens will get a visa(same as with Indonesian nurses). I don't know what is the big deal with Japanese, let them speak English and if people want a Japanese speaking domestic helper or nurse then they pay the additional price to get a local, free market at work.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Why does the AMERICAN Chamber of Commerce think it can determine JAPANESE domestic policy. Typical American arrogance.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Expat wives are lazy I guess if accj is spouting this crap!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

As proven by other countries that utilize foreign domestic worker programs — such as Singapore and Hong Kong

Slavery, it is. I hope Japan keeps refusing that.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I would like to see some mention, even once, about the working conditions and rights about those domestic workers. Presumably, they're not the class of "women" whose participation in the workforce the writer is interested in. Conditions of forced labour and abuse are well-documented worldwide. Although I notice he does say that the workers should be able to work for more than one household which would address this problem at least a little, considering Japan's miserable human rights record for workers coming on these kind of unskilled visas, I can see desperate women (they nearly all are women in most places) being exploited by unscrupulous employers. Still, I'm sure, that won't trouble the writer, who no doubt lives in an expat bubble where having servants is normal.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Actually, I am not an expat. I built a business in Japan over a period of 20 years and I have a family with three children who are all in Japanese schools. I am fully aware of the complexities of raising children in Japan, which doesn't have the custom of neighborhood babysitters. The time burden on mothers and many times fathers, is quite heavy, particularly in larger families. In my company, I have a young Japanese woman who is going to give birth in 6 weeks, she has been looking for a day care center so she can come back to work as quickly as possible. Her three month search hasn't been successful as of yet. With her first child, it took her almost 9 months to find a day care center. Day care centers may be built over the next few years, but there is a severe shortage of staff which is actually the bigger problem.

What is going to hit young families in Japan over the next 5-15 years will be the pressure of caring for both children and elderly within the home. Japanese healthcare services do help with elderly in some communities, but soon there will just be too many elderly and not enough caretakers in the Japan. In rural communities, it is very common for elderly children to be taking care of their parents.One person I knew in this situation said point blank, "who will take care of my mother and me if I become disabled". The problem is in the home. Young couples cannot take care of children and their elderly without help. This is the problem we looked at when we decided to write the viewpoint on allowing foreign domestic workers into Japan.

We fully agree that the question of "working conditions and rights" as mentioned by as_the_crow_flies is extremely important. What is needed is a well defined visa status for foreign domestic workers which doesn't exist now. One option the Japanese government would have, if this visa status was established, would be to allow temp staff agencies to sponsor the visas of foreign domestic workers. These workers then could be contracted out to any families that required their services. There would be a few other regulations that would have to be changed, but this would be in the realm of the possible.

The expat community in Japan as we knew it back in the 1980s and 1990s is much, much smaller now. The expat community had been made up of well paid people in finance, a very large number of these people have long since moved to Hong Kong, Singapore and other financial centers. This group of expats did not figure into our thinking relative to the viewpoint. What we are concerned about are the highly skilled workers that the Japanese government has been trying to attract to Japan to contribute to revitalizing economic growth in Japan. Japan is hoping to bring in foreigners with special skills and innovative ideas that will lead to new products, assist Japanese companies to compete globally, create new companies, etc. These people will most likely be engineers, scientific researchers and possibly entrepreneurs.

Highly skilled foreigners with children who do decide to move to Japan in the future will need domestic help that suits their needs, particularly in families with both parents working. English speaking ability will be important to these families. If foreign domestic workers are allowed into Japan under the right circumstances, their presence could help both young Japanese families and highly skilled foreign workers. Japan has done many things right, if the visa status can be created and the correct sponsorship and working regulations put in place, Japan could be the country to develop the right way to host foreign domestic workers.

Bryan Norton Labor Force Diversification Task Force ACCJ

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Thought-provoking article , I was fascinated by the info ! Does anyone know if my assistant could possibly find a sample DA 31 document to work with ?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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