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Tokyo bus operator banks on foreign drivers as shortage looms

55 Comments
By Noriyuki Suzuki

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If I am right in thinking, buses are primarily used in rural areas.

At least bus drivers are easier positions to fill than healthcare workers. There are probably a lot of Chinese, South East Asians and South Asians who can fill those vacancies.

-20 ( +5 / -25 )

Those bus driver position empty not by coincident, there are reason why people just don't want that job. They need to be careful to drink and even to eat. Some food can increase blood level even

https://japantoday.com/category/national/osaka-bus-driver-flunks-alcohol-test-after-eating-steamed-bread

.

Beside that let's say they have their driving license suspended outside their working hours, that can mean they are not allowed to do any work. In case they involved in any accidents even is not bus driver mistake, can be pedestrian that walking while playing with phone or carless cyclist.

.

They also need to follow strange work schedule, they get paid only when they drive bus during peak hours which is morning and afternoon but bus company just doesn't want to really pay those time in between.

https://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/15070097

-15 ( +8 / -23 )

Per the Asahi article, an industry rep complains that Tokyo's "high minimum wage" (1,100 yen a hour, LOL) was drawing candidates toward other industries. Clearly, these companies aren't paying their staff enough.

17 ( +25 / -8 )

A Tokyo bus operator has declared its desire to hire foreign drivers, hoping the move will prompt Japan to open up the job to people from abroad as the country grapples with a growing labor shortage in the public transport sector.

A last exploitative gasp of many Japanese companies as they have pursued late stage capitalist race to the bottom labor policies.

Very soon many will have to invest in driver-less tech, and the infrastructure costs involved will weed out many smaller companies.

https://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/15068838

The scheduled introduction in April of a cap on overtime worked by drivers to 960 hours a year has already raised concern that the logistics and transportation sectors will see more acute labor shortages.

Of course after that the execs will not have to whine anymore about labor shortages when they are paying peanuts.

-1 ( +15 / -16 )

@JeffLee

Exactly, working for factories floor with regular working hours in some of companies even can easily match 1,100 yen an hour. Those people who work in factory can drink booze during their free time and work the next day without worrying alcohol test and no need to worry about traffic accidents at all.

-12 ( +11 / -23 )

Stress is another important factor to consider. It is difficult to measure, but it is very real for the transportation operator. Additionally, stress is cumulative over time and does not dissipate. Coping strategy of self-medication (of alcohol) is an ineffective, downward spiral...

10 ( +15 / -5 )

If I am right in thinking, buses are primarily used in rural areas.

Why? Let me guess you never have seen all the municipal busses that run in all the cities in Japan.

Your thinking is the opposite of reality. Rural areas have few busses at all, because there are not enough customers to support running them out there.

26 ( +29 / -3 )

It may not be an easy road but it's worth paving, he said.

Ha! - well said. Becoming "international" is not limited to inviting an English teacher to your kids' school class - it is integrating non-Japanese of all types of nationalities into various skill-level jobs, and welcoming them for long-term settlement, not just some five-year deal.

The mindset change Japan will have to undergo to achieve this is immense. First is to grasp the necessity. Second (and more important) is to jettison the concept of being "Japanese" as being limited to race.

I am a white guy from Los Angeles, yet people consistently remark, "You are more Japanese than the Japanese." That does not mean that I heedlessly mimic; I learn the benefits of cultural traits, abandon those that I see no use in, and adopt and improve on those that I do.

10 ( +15 / -5 )

Japanese employers just don't get it. This labor shortage they keep going on about is for low paying jobs with long hours. It's not a shortage of labor. It's a shortage of people who want to work long hours for a pittance. Now, they believe people will come from overseas to work for next to nothing and still have to contribute the pension scam. If they were serious they would make all foreigners exempt from the scam, which would give them more money in their pockets and make the jobs more appealing.

18 ( +29 / -11 )

It's only a matter of time before all bus and taxi drivers are middle Eastern. It's one of the certainties of life.

-13 ( +4 / -17 )

Will foreign bus drivers not have trouble reading Japanese road signs? In most Asian countries they drive on the right side of the road. Accidents will be inevitable and frequent.

-19 ( +2 / -21 )

Over a hundred million people in Japan and there’s a need to import foreigners to do jobs here?

No!

The problem is the crap salaries on offer!

16 ( +25 / -9 )

Will foreign bus drivers not have trouble reading Japanese road signs? In most Asian countries they drive on the right side of the road. Accidents will be inevitable and frequent.

Yes, they will be hired in their 1st week in Japan, and then they will learn how to drive and speak in japanese, so they can start working in a month or so, this is the kind of foreigner these bus companies will be looking for!

-4 ( +5 / -9 )

While still working, I noticed that most of the workers in the transportation industry in Southern California were hispanic. Most of the jobs in transportation are unionized, and the corporations do not dare to intentionally hire people who are here without the proper papers. So, my conclusion is that many industries here in South Cal would have to shut their doors without the contributions of legally here foreigners, getting a decent wage.

just saying, Japan may have to go the same route. After a while, the "foreigners" become part of the nation, and even expand the need for products and services.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Over a hundred million people in Japan and there’s a need to import foreigners to do jobs here?

Right and literally over what, 35 million of them past retirement age here.

The problem is the crap salaries on offer!

This is ONE reason but not even close to why the foreigners are needed across the board. Either that, or let Japan shrink to a more manageable population that can support itself through a more balanced age demographic in the population..........................(Joke of course)

0 ( +5 / -5 )

I thought we were going to have self driving buses?

5 ( +8 / -3 )

With a PR or spouse visa, we can also do that job. The job is already open up to drivers from abroad if those companies have the desire to recruit foreigners. Not sure many want to do it. But they might prefer to target the « migrants » with different wage requirements

4 ( +7 / -3 )

This is ONE reason but not even close to why the foreigners are needed across the board. 

No, that is the reason. These companies do not want to pay people what they're worth. So they beg the government to import foreigners who will do the same work for less money.

-2 ( +9 / -11 )

Many of these buses are people going on holiday. Like it or not, going on holiday is now a luxury item in Japan. Lots of people don't do it. So the price of this luxury item should up to a price that will cover a decent wage for drivers.

There is no reason why a bus full of old people going to an onsen hotel to eat a "crab course" or "A5 wagyu shabu shabu" can't pay 500 yen more to pay the driver a decent wage. The same goes in spades to foreign tourists paying for flights to Japan and multiple nights of hotel accommodation. As we know, Japan is full of "black kigyo" jobs with poor conditions. If tour companies cannot attract people away from black kigyo to drive buses, their own conditions must be comparibly poor. I can understand why a trucking company carrying a truck load of sand can't pay a driver much, but not a tour bus full of people who've all spend 5000 yen plus on overpriced souvenirs (boxes of 10 crackers, tiny yen bottles of salad dressing, or whatever).

12 ( +13 / -1 )

I would consider it as a career change.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Some drivers are currently working more than 18 overload hours (on average) per week? And the CEO talks about safety first?

The scheduled introduction in April of a cap on overtime worked by drivers to 960 hours a year has already raised concern that the logistics and transportation sectors will see more acute labor shortages.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Japanese employers just don't get it. This labor shortage they keep going on about is for low paying jobs with long hours. It's not a shortage of labor. It's a shortage of people who want to work long hours for a pittance. Now, they believe people will come from overseas to work for next to nothing and still have to contribute the pension scam. If they were serious they would make all foreigners exempt from the scam, which would give them more money in their pockets and make the jobs more appealing

Extremely well stated,the pension system scam is somerhing unbearable which in the end won’t even allow people to save decent money.

And after you turn forty it become even more pricey.

8 ( +10 / -2 )

Oh FFS capitalists, the problem is the crap wages and horrible work conditions!

8 ( +12 / -4 )

Anyone here actually worked as a professional driver?

How do you know so much?

-9 ( +1 / -10 )

Bus drivers in Kanagawa get 5M p.a (almost double their contemporaries in Tohoku).

https://www.baitoru.com/contents/driver/3632.html

Not dreadful, but about half the 10M p.a. that London tube drivers rake in.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Well, I guess they are taking a page out of the UK's history. The UK brought over hundreds from the Caribbean to work as clippies and bus drivers. One advantage Japan has is it can look at other countries and see where they went wrong. On how they treated those immigrants.Especially the wind rush generation who were treated appallingly by the UK. You can't bring people here, for 35,40 years then kick them out after they've served the company and country. Paid their tax, and had a family. One advantage the UK had was that it could bring in people who spoke English and read English, so the learning curve wasn't steep. Japan should/would have to offer more Japanese training NOT AT THE WORKERS EXPENSE. They would have to stop landlord discrimination, and they would have to let them change jobs, so they can move up the salary ladder and not just be some minimum salary slave for the company. And when they HIT 65, you can't find some racist excuse to kick them out. Oh, you're not Japanese! If you don't, you might find that just like in other countries with immigrants, some will get angry. Especially if they have a second generation, who knows no other country, language, or culture.

5 ( +8 / -3 )

They will need to pass a Japanese bus/passenger driving test.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

There is actually no shortage of labor in Japan - and no need to import "guest workers" from overseas. Tokyo Bus Corp just wants to import cheap workers from poor countries to boost profits.

All companies need to do is raise the hourly rate to ~2000 yen/hour or above. Japanese that are voluntarily sitting out of the workforce will then come back and fill those vacancies.

Furthermore, pretty much all transport within a decade will be driverless.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

Oh FFS capitalists, the problem is the crap wages and horrible work conditions!

That's a self solving problem under Capitalism as you can just find another job elsewhere or even start your own company doing the exact same thing you were being terribly paid for.

The only problem is government regulations preventing/limiting people from entering the marketplace.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

what could possibly attract a foreign worker to seek a minimum wage in Japan, live in substandard housing, have no civil rights, and be treated like a peon 24/7. The foreigners that make your sandwiches and perform other menial chores that are seen to be beneath the dignity of the average entitled Japanese will one day outnumber the natives, become restless, and demand equal rights. And by then, native Japanese will be helplessly outnumbered and subjected to the same treatment once given menial gaijin.

-7 ( +7 / -14 )

Tokyu Bus Corp. driver profile:

Male

Mid-career hire

Less than 3 years with company

Overtime: 20 hours/ month

Annual salary: 5 million yen

Source: https://www.openwork.jp/user_answer.php?vid=a0A2x00000JqgRg

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

Tokyo bus operator banks on foreign drivers as shortage looms

a better idea.....

Autonomous buses in public transport, a driverless future ahead? 

https://www.sustainable-bus.com/its/autonomous-bus-public-transport-driverless/

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

A weaker yen also makes Japan a less attractive place to work.

Now that is an understatement. Low salary for foreign workers and they have to send a large portion of that back to their families in their own countries where prices are also rising plus a weak yen means they have to double their effort to cover for that difference like 1-2years ago.

Taiwan, South Korea, NZ or even Europe is becoming more ideal for asian skilled workers than Japan nowadays.

-5 ( +7 / -12 )

what could possibly attract a foreign worker to seek a minimum wage in Japan

the same reason you came.

-7 ( +4 / -11 )

Most people do not know that Japan's domestic (not foreign) population's shrinking almost 20k per WEEK.

Depopulation's accelerating, fewer births and more deaths, every year, naturally Covid has caused deaths to spike even more, especially co-morbidity related.

Immigrants, mainly from SE Asia, surging as result. FY 2022, approx. 300K, first half of FY 2023 approx. 700K

Otherwise, economy REALLY collapses, too many old and too few young.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Mid-career hire

Less than 3 years with company

Overtime: 20 hours/ month

Annual salary: 5 million yen

Source: https://www.openwork.jp/user_answer.php?vid=a0A2x00000JqgRg

Foreign drivers will be treated as new hires, not "mid career".

Even if its five million, that will be 16 months so probably 310,000 a month with two 620,000 bonuses if you are still around at summer and winter bonus time. Maybe 250,000 a month takehome to eek out the six months. To apply for this job, you need a ni-shu large vehicle license that will cost 300,000 yen plus.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

People who complain about the low salaries forget that's far more than the average Chinese immigrant makes.

-8 ( +0 / -8 )

New hires (recent college graduates) at Tokyu make 3.5 million annually. Not a shabby sum. The cost of obtaining a Type-2 license to operate large buses ranges from 35-60 万, but companies are now offering to cover the entire amount.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Most people do not know that Japan's domestic (not foreign) population's shrinking almost 20k per WEEK.

That's happening everywhere. Population collapses are happening across America, Europe, Africa, and the rest of Asia. Even the import of foreigners by the millions isn't improving anything as they populations back home are declining, too.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

I know of two Japanese bus drivers in Sydney, Australia. They have permanent residency, health insurance, holiday pay and superannuation for retirement. The average salary for a Sydney bus driver is ¥3500 an hour.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

If Japan wants to turn out to become like Europe one day, just do that, import low skill foreigners just for the sake to keep wealthy those at the head of companies.

What is the problem of either charging customers more for a service or ending those services which would have become useless ?

-7 ( +0 / -7 )

Having foreigners as bus drivers is the same as foreigners working for taxi companies. The only problem is almost no Foreign want to do due low payment, staying and sleeping at dormitories, Japanese language need to be high level to provide services.

But again if someone don't mind and can pass all check boxes for the requirements than why not.

I just stick with the job I have.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

according to the UN the following nations have continuing population growth

As I said, it's because we're constantly importing foreigners.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

@Abe234:

The 5 year work assignment and then deportation actually can replenish the pension and medical funds as well as general taxation.

Not saying it's right, but it does balance the books as they cannot partake of the disabled or retired pension. They can partake of the healthcare, however, as not allowing such would be detrimental to the community health.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Could bring in 2 million every 5 years (and make sure they get switched out one-for-one), just make sure they're scattered throughout the country to prevent enclaves that breeds no-go zones.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

桜川雪Today 12:24 am JST

Could bring in 2 million every 5 years (and make sure they get switched out one-for-one), just make sure they're scattered throughout the country to prevent enclaves that breeds no-go zones.

And what makes you think people will undergo an extensive language program to come to Japan to work for peanuts and be open to deportation? They will go to a friendly country instead.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

It's a competition for talent, and more so than ever now with China and SK also rapidly aging and shrinking in population. F/X, taxes and citizenship possibilities also weigh, not to mention general success 'trends'.

So many skilled choose remote lifestyle that depends little if any on country choice = more competition!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

when GREED is the KING.

pay normal salaries to staff and there will be no shortage of drivers at all.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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