business

Brazilian workers protest layoffs

36 Comments

Some 200 Brazilian workers on Sunday protested over layoffs by Japanese companies, which are forcing many of them to leave the country despite their community having been integrated in Japan for more than two decades. The demonstrators, who included mothers with their children, marched through the center of the Ginza shopping district, calling for the government's support for stable employment.

The crowd, many holding Brazilian flags, demanded "employment for 320,000" Brazilians in Japan. "We are Brazilians!" they shouted in unison. "Companies must stop using us like disposable labor." Since 1990, Japan has given special working visas to hundreds of thousands of Brazilians of Japanese descent, many of whom have taken up temporary positions as manual laborers in factories.

Amid the global economic downturn, however, many are being laid off and being forced to return to Brazil. They are often overshadowed by the 85,000 Japanese contract workers also said to be losing their jobs by March.

"No matter how hard we worked in Japan, we are being cut off because we are contract laborers," said Midori Tateishi, 38, who came to Japan nearly 20 years ago. "Many of us are totally at a loss with children and a housing loan."

© Wire reports

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36 Comments
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They make take comfort reading this headline "Aso plans to create 1,600,000 jobs in 3 three years".

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Japan wants cheap labor but doesn't care about the people who come. In what countries do people live and work for 20 years at the government's invitation and still need to fear deportation if they lose their jobs?

It is a modern form of wage slavery without guarantees of rights. And it is shameful! These people have worked, paid taxes and grown a community here. They deserve proper rights and protections and should be naturalized.

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"The crowd, many holding Brazilian flags, demanded “employment for 320,000” Brazilians in Japan. “We are Brazilians!” they shouted in unison. “Companies must stop using us like disposable labor."

Yes, you are Brazilians, and not Japanese. You are gaijin, so you are unequivocally "disposable labor." Welcome to reality in Japan.

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“We are Brazilians!” they shouted in unison. “Companies must stop using us like disposable labor."

I don't follow the logic.

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Where in the article is "deportation" mentioned? I really don't follow the logic of the "protesters". It is not the government's or companies' responsibility to ensure stable employment. (Do they expect the government to treat foreigners preferentially?) Are they being treated any differently than Japanese contract laborers? If they are "integrated" than why are they marching in Ginza shouting "We are Brazilians". It seems to me, by their demands and methods , they show their lack of integration.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

They deserve proper rights and protections and should be naturalized.

You mean like the japanese part-time and temp workers who sleep in parks and in tent villages ? or like those who sleep in Ikebukuro station ? You think layoffs only include foreigners ? You can not force people to become japanese, they just have to fill in forms and speak japanese !

“We are Brazilians!” they shouted in unison. “Companies must stop using us like disposable labor.”

Just imagine mexicans doing so in New York...that's a complete joke. You are brazilians ? so what ? you deserve better that iranians or nigerians ?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

being forced to return to Brazil

it looks like someone interpreted this as deportation. I believe that's not the case.

For those who don't follow the logic: just don't go looking where there is none. I don't get it myself.

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I think there is very little protection available for anyone living anywhere by governments and corporations. Unless there are hundreds of millions protesting the recent mass layoffs there will never be a change. History has proven this fact and no new leader or CEO has ever done much to mitigate unemployment levels. Nobody should be unemployed PERIOD! this is a failure of leadership not the incompetency of the worker. Aside from people who are too old or young to work or have severe diabilities that would prevent them from working, all capable individuals should have reasonable paying and fair jobs that would allow them to live their lives without the financial difficulties that we commonly experience in today`s society. Oil and a bunch of Speculators have created great hardship for millions. Why is this OK? Nonsense. Make your protest loud and clear folks...

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Yes, you are Brazilians, and not Japanese. You are gaijin, so you are unequivocally "disposable labor." Welcome to reality in Japan.

I second that! So true. Maybe they should have learnt to speak English. Plenty of jobs out there in the teaching field.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Perhaps the government could "study" this, what a farse by the government, they dont really care about working foreigners, I would explain other similar issues but my post would be removed.

http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/govt-to-set-up-office-to-support-foreign-residents-who-lose-jobs

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The crowd, many holding Brazilian flags, demanded “employment for 320,000” Brazilians in Japan. “We are Brazilians!” they shouted in unison.

Worst. Protest. Strategy. Ever.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Look the article is about Brazilians not Japanese temp workers. Therefore we are talking about the rights of foreign workers.

Let's clear the air.

I think employment is a problem for both Japanese and foreigners. I think both need better protections and security. Especially for housing tied to work. I think the goverment needs to do more for part time and temp workers no matter where they are from. 20 years is not temporary. It is long term and therefore I view these long term workers as essentially Japanese as they have been here long enough to be considered so by most international standards.

So what is at issue?

Labor rights for temp and part time workers. The responsibility of Japan to long stay cheap labor workers needs to be much greater. This applies to them especially because they are the most in danger to lose their entire life structure in this kind of situation.

A. I essentially believe that any nation that imports cheap labor for long term positions should equally provide a clear path to naturalization and both rights and other protections equal to those of the natural citizenry.

B. If a country is not ok to do this, then external labor should be limited to short stay periods to avoid having large settled populations at risk of heavy loss in downturns.

C. Re-employment and stop loss securities must be put in place to protect all temp and part time workers. But with added provisions for the foreign workers here on long term contracts to assure they can stay in their new home environment.

Disposable labor is inhumane. Period. A country should not benefit from cheap labor without taking the responsiblity for it too. Plain and simple.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Protesting is a waste of time. Use that time to look for a job.

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techall. As usually you seem to be able to dismiss the human side of this issue. Are you ok with exploitation?

Japanese companies want to sell exports. They know that in order to remain competitive they need to have cheap labor. So they import, or encourage the import of cheap labor to meet these objectives.

The laborers come to Japan and work without political representation or many of the legal protections that their Japanese peers have. And they do this for years upon years. Often decades. All that time paying taxes, supporting business and spending money in Japan's domestic economy.

When things go bad, Japan is ready to dump them off somewhere.

Every time a worker's human rights and considerations are ignored or trampled it impacts all workers. The diminutive nature of cheap labor harms all workers as we've seen with the depreciation of many once good paying and secure jobs due to outsourcing abroad. When government and companies put no protection for low wage workers, they encourage the degridation of protections for all workers because labor becomes more and more a commodity and security and safety for working people becomes less and less achievable.

Japanese workers should be just as afraid of this situation as it impacts them too. The loss of tax paying workers hurts everyone. As does the degredation of labor security and protection.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

all notions of fairness aside... if you decide to immigrate, you had better never expect rights and privileges unless you plan to be naturalized. learning the language well and increasing your skill set with regards to ones future are not bad ideas either ; ) bottom line, tough economic times are hardest on those on the bottom of the food chain.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I work here as a full time employee under Japanese regulations, so I am in a different case to these workers. Although my job is as secure as anyone's is right now, I came here on the full understanding that I may need to leave one day due to circumstances outside my control.

Therefore, I fail to understand why everyone is claiming these workers were somehow duped into coming to Japan for cheap labor. Let's be honest, they chose to come here so they could earn more than they could at home back in Brazil, and with increased opportunity, it is natural to suffer some increased risk. That's the way of the world and its happening all over the globe right now, not just in Japan. If they wanted better rights, then they could have applied for permanent residency or citizenship at any time in the last 20 years. But even that would not have guaranteed their employment any better than the thousands of Japanese contract and full time workers who are already out of work and a home.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Falling on deaf ears. Japan bearly looks after its own workers, so why would they give a fat wombat's ball bag about a bunch of gaijin?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Falling on deaf ears. Japan bearly looks after its own workers, so why would they give a fat wombat's ball bag about a bunch of gaijin?

Agreed.

Replace the above statement with the following and you'll realize that the problem is global.

Falling on deaf ears. (Insert your country here) bearly looks after its own workers, so why would they give a fat wombat's ball bag about a bunch of foreigners?

Let's face it. These Brazilians came here to earn a buck. They even have their own term "Dekasugi" which is derived from the same Japanese term where rural population go to factories/metropolitan areas to earn cash. They're essentially migrant workers.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Who cares what kind of worker these people are or were? Too many categories: temp, full-time, migrant, contract etc. People just need to be employed properly and have security (no categories required). Globalisation stretches far beyond it`s association of just being about stock markets. It includes travel, jobs, marriages, friendship, family, education etc. Everyone has a right to be treated fairly no matter they work or live.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Disillusioned you are right. The question is "Why should we care?" The fact is that workers of all strata have become disillusioned and hopeless about their situation. We view corporations as if they have a god given right to dominate everything and that government exists largely to service them. We have lost hope of having worker's rights or even of expecting accountability from either corporations or government.

The fact is that workers are as disempowered, and I mean all workers, as ever before in modern history. While we have better housing and health than our industrial revolution ancestors, we are increasingly working as long as they do and seeing the same diminishing social power.

Look at how people work in Japan and the hours they keep and the very clear social and psychological impact we are seeing. This is an accute problem that threatens nearly every advanced society. Yet workers are quick to throw up their hands and say shoganai. And consumers fail consistently to vote their support of workers by carring on consuming even from companies with poor social and political records.

If we decide not to care nothing will ever change. Let me repeat. Nothing will ever change! We have to start to believe that change, empowerment and protections are not only possible but necessary. And we can start to use our consumer vote as well as our political influence to change things. And that begins by making the problems of one group of workers, the problem of all workers.

Or you can just give up and settle into a life of wage slavery.

I for one care about the welfare of workers and want to see change.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I’m a brazilian, (third generation of Japanese grandparents), and I've been laid off.

The overall sentiment among our community is complex and mix-up…

Some feel discriminated because in many cases, like mine, the company we’ve been working for decided to lay off only the foreigners. Japanese workers, no matter haken, sei-shain or full-flagged shain, they all remain in their positions.

These felling of discrimination adds up to years, decades of:

hard work. The triple Ks job: Kiken (risky), Kitsui ( hard) and Kitanai (durt) is always reserved for us. low payment (haken kaisha eats up a big portion of our payment).

But we understand that this is the story of all immigrants, in all past times and in all countries. No matter if America, or even Brazil, the first generation of immigrants always live in sacrifice in hope that their children, been raised inside the local society may one day become full flagged citizens.

Like all other immigrants we live in hope. Not for us but for our kids.

But that don’t forbids us to express our feelings. To show to Japanese society our point of view. Protests movements is a common place is the western society. And I really think that if this is done in ordered fashion, not causing harm or disorder is always positive. It contributes to broaden up the excessively passive state of mind of the average Japanese society.

The protest here is because this whole concept of two different system of employment inside the same society is odd to Brazilians. Down there we have only labour and capital. Employees and employers. Company and workes.

This concept of some workers having more privileges than others is something very strange to us.

We understand that this is the way things are here in Japan. Many who do not agree are heading back to Brazil.

But many, who also do not agree, have chosen to stay and make our selves heard.

To offer to Japanese society a different point of view: -That everybody in a society is equal, and should have the same opportunities to work and to live.

If the Japanese society ever choose to embrace this and others concepts reigning in western societies is up to Japanese to decide. We believe this our contribution to this process.

In essence, this what this and others protest are all about.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Japan doesn't consider itself discrimitive, the legal system wont help it will always side with big business.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The protest here is because this whole concept of two different system of employment inside the same society is odd to Brazilians. Down there we have only labour and capital. Employees and employers. Company and workes. This concept of some workers having more privileges than others is something very strange to us.

You're telling me the white-collar Brazilian nationals and blue collar work-visa aliens have the same priviliges? To put it politely, I'm skeptical.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

But is isn't in the interests of most Japanese workers to have things work this way.

Legal and social protections for all workers benefits all workers. Period! So Japanese workers should be working towards the same goals.

And Xandirules is doing the right thing by at least trying and raising the issue publicly.

Immigrants do sacrifice a lot the first generation. But in most countries that means the second generation and look forward to better opportunities. But in Japan that isn't the case either. Which is severely unfair when people labor and work here for decades supporting companies and economy with no protection.

Best wishes to you for your protests and efforts to raise awareness and to enable change. It is good to see that not everyone has given up to subservient roles under corporate rule. Workers and consumers have the real power if we ever choose to exercise it.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

If a country is not ok to do this, then external labor should be limited to short stay periods to avoid having large settled populations at risk of heavy loss in downturns.

Everyone makes their own choices. Working a temporary position in a factory for 20 years is a choice. Many workers in this position in Japan have acquired land in their home country, built houses and educated relatives. Getting laid off in bad times is a risk of this type of work. But the rewards are great. There is no reason to guarantee workers jobs in a capitalistic society.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"This concept of some workers having more privileges than others is something very strange to us.

We understand that this is the way things are here in Japan. Many who do not agree are heading back to Brazil."

As you have stated, the Nikkei Brazilians have the option to head back to Brazil, something that the Japanese workers do not have.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

But is isn't in the interests of most Japanese workers to have things work this way. Legal and social protections for all workers benefits all workers. Period! So Japanese workers should be working towards the same goals.

Why should a short-term part-timer, who has less investement in the company, have the same protections as a worker who's been with the company many years, for example. There is no way to make legal and social protections the same for all workers, even if it were desirable. Are you saying the priciple of last hired, first fired should be abandoned? Because that certainly doesn't protect all wokers equally.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I think 95% or more of the people that post have not ever worked, nor set foot in a Japanese factory. Of those few, I doubt they have Brazilian or other nisei co-workers that they know well.

I know several Brazilians that have worked in factories for over 15 years, much longer than many of their Japanese counterparts. They DO NOT have a chance to become regular employees, as the company will not hire them.

Some people are correct...the pay is better than back in their own country. They have sacrificed their home for the extra yen. So have most of the people that are living here! Why are you special? Cause you speak English??

This is sad for many of the foreign laborers in Japan. I feel for you, while I also fear that I might not last the year as a regular employee.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

So what happens when the next "boom" occurs in say 5 years time?? These Japanese "bosses" will be complaining of a shortage of labor and trying again to import thousands of dirt cheap Brazilian slaves. Let's hope the word is out now and they all put two fingers up to these "bosses".

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

If the unemployment situation gets much worse, I won't be surprised if riots break out. Even in shoganai gaman japan. People will take only so much and then snap. They'll take notice of the unemployment problem then.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I understand the Japanese reaction, any country would do the same.

But I cannot belive that most foreigners are not supportive of these brazilians.

Nigelboy writes: <As you have stated, the Nikkei Brazilians have the option to head back <to Brazil, something that the Japanese workers do not have.

Japanese are one of the few people on earth that can go in almost any part of the world without asking for a Visa. Japanese have the same (if not better) chanses to work in any part of the world. not forgetting the Working Holiday program and its advantages. I know it is for one year and just till the age of 30 but it is heavy in someones CV and experience.

Jacksmacks writes: <Many workers in this position in Japan have acquired land in their home <country, built houses and educated relatives. Getting laid off in bad <times is a risk of this type of work. But the rewards are great.

The land and houses were aquired with the money of their sweat. they were not begging in the streets to educate their relatives. they did it as any other honest Japanese. It is true that the rewards are greats, but you should also agree that is not worth the sacrifice of leaving its country, Family and friends.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"Everyone makes their own choices. Working a temporary position in a factory for 20 years is a choice." I applaude the statement, so why is choosing to protest against going to the chopping block bad? Why should they meekly go home? Protest your heart out and if something comes of it then hurray. If not, then at least you didn't go meekly into that darkness. At least your tried to make your voice heard even it falls on deaf ears.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

You're telling me the white-collar Brazilian nationals and blue collar work-visa aliens have the same priviliges? To put it politely, I'm skeptical.

Yes Nessie, in Brazil the Labor Regulations clearly states one kind of employment only. In reality, after three months of daily activities for the same company you terminate your experience period and become full flagged employee, no matter if you are white or blue collar, native Brazilian or foreign.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Why should a short-term part-timer, who has less investement in the company, have the same protections as a worker who's been with the company many years, for example.

Because of the exceptions. In this system os Shains and Hakens there a lot of situations where someone is doing haken because simply there is no other way.

Figure yourself up in a situation where you have been working for the same company for the last 10 years. All of a sudden the company goes bankruptcy. You are in the middle 30s. There is no way you’ll get employed as shain. NO WAY!!!

And the person goes haken for 20 years more and there are people who tell this a CHOICE!!!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Yes Nessie, in Brazil the Labor Regulations clearly states one kind of employment only. In reality, after three months of daily activities for the same company you terminate your experience period and become full flagged employee, no matter if you are white or blue collar, native Brazilian or foreign.

So who gets fired first? Last hired? Random? Most inept? If it's last fired, then not all workers have the same priviliges.

I didn't understand your second post to me. Could you please clarify?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Yes Nessie, in Brazil the Labor Regulations clearly states one kind of employment only.

So does that mean men have an equal duration of maternity leave? If not, then they don't have the same priviliges as women.

And regulations do not always reflect reality. My question was about reality: "You're telling me the white-collar Brazilian nationals and blue collar work-visa aliens have the same priviliges?" Are you saying that there are no salaried positions, that everything is by the hour?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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