business

Foreign workers feel the pain of 'corona job cuts' in Japan

51 Comments
By Sakura Murakami

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51 Comments
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Soon Japan will have to do their own dirty work. Dont worry, bad japanese enployers will pay that huge price of hurting foreign workers. Look at Carlos Goshsn , Will nissan survive ???.Foreign workers are not tools, we can do the many things that japanese cannot. I have live here for 31 years. The day of reconking is coming very soon.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

littlebearMay 6  06:57 pm JST

Everyone is responsible for their own choices and risks. I’m sorry but playing the foreigner card is crap! Many Japanese alike are struggling. And even many Japanese families where there are mothers with four kids. I have four children myself but sorry playing they card doesn’t change anything.

Everyone has got some problem a result of this pandemic. Saying foreigners are ones who are in the crosshairs first is complete and utter crap! Lastly people who work for automakers in Japan are usually paid fairly decent wages compared to everywhere else. Additionally employees who have been working for Japanese automakers get bonuses twice a year and frankly if they have been employed for a few years they should be living far above the poverty line.

I know I sound like a jerk but, we are all adults! Act like it! If you can help someone like the people mentioned who need help, by all means do so! But playing the victim card is a waste of time.

Well said.. This are adult words. And hope the journalists can grow to think as adults before playing the cry baby card.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

It seems foreign workers of Japanese extraction are treated no differently from any other foreign workers.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

you would have better luck in Nagoya or Osaka why the heck are you in Tsu? It is a wasteland I used to live there.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Another problem is that some "black" companies (which hire cheaper workers, including foreigners) will often hire such workers as "contractors", but make them work the same as fully-paid "employers" (when that is not legal). The shady employers gain cheap workers who can be easily fired AND they don't have to pay the workers any money for unemployment/health insurance.

This happened to an 50 year old ex-colleague, who worked for a place called "Crayon Kids International" (in Yachiyo, Chiba). After previously asking them to stay, they suddenly have her the sack, just before the Covid 19 pandemic and kicked her out. Due to her being hired as a "contractor", she is unable to get unemployment benefit.

Currently, all of the workers have had to work at the (small, and often cramped) buildings, even though hardly any kids are there. This includes foreign teaching staff, who aren't registered nursery teachers and don't need to be there.

The reason? Probably greed and/or mismanagement.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

@Henny Penny

You are perfectly correct, to suggest that the Japanese do not have an innate propensity for racism-it is nonsense!

However, the Japanese do have a cultural propensity to have one which is garnered from school, the media,politics,linguistics etc.

The information in this article clearly shows that contractually, foreign workers are not accorded the same types of benefits that Japanese workers would have.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Everyone is responsible for their own choices and risks. I’m sorry but playing the foreigner card is crap! Many Japanese alike are struggling. And even many Japanese families where there are mothers with four kids. I have four children myself but sorry playing they card doesn’t change anything.

Everyone has got some problem a result of this pandemic. Saying foreigners are ones who are in the crosshairs first is complete and utter crap! Lastly people who work for automakers in Japan are usually paid fairly decent wages compared to everywhere else. Additionally employees who have been working for Japanese automakers get bonuses twice a year and frankly if they have been employed for a few years they should be living far above the poverty line.

I know I sound like a jerk but, we are all adults! Act like it! If you can help someone like the people mentioned who need help, by all means do so! But playing the victim card is a waste of time.

1 ( +6 / -5 )

What else is new? Nothing is going to change here for another 100 years. Rasism and Xenofobia sadly are deeply rooted in the DNA and also education of the locals...

This claim is itself explicitly racist. You are saying the Japanese have a biological propensity to racism and xenophobia.

This is no better than Ishihara Shintaro saying crime was in the Chinese DNA.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

I am an older foreigner. I've lived in Japan for over 30 years. I am lucky that I've enjoyed being employed by a US company in Japan and not a Japanese company. I have steered my sons from working for a Japanese company who, in the long haul, only care about native Japanese....even though my sons are citizens.

Unfortunately, Japan isn't alone is xenophobic behavior and with economic hardship ahead I wish all foreign workers, especially the young and vulnerable, to be on constant guard against the corrupt and self-serving which, unfortunately, is the norm in this country.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Some expats did stay, but over time they became permanent residents or Japanese citizens, not expats anymore.

Becoming a permanent resident does not magically change your status from expat.

expatriate

noun

/ɪksˈpatrɪət,ɪksˈpeɪtrɪət,ɛksˈpatrɪət,ɛksˈpeɪtrɪət/

a person who lives outside their native country

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

An economic depression has begun.

Next 2 years will Be brutal.

Nobody cares about your whining, the world is a mean and nasty place.

Pick yourself up and be stronger than a job that sucks.

Skill up for 2022!

0 ( +4 / -4 )

sorry, expats, not ex-pats

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Just wondering, is there a rule that says white foreigners are called ex-pats, and everyone else below are called migrants?

By the way, Yamashita-san is a rather handsome fellow.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

In my experience:

I have known brazilian born half Japanese people here on PR have unwritten deals with their employers to work until they qualify for unemployment, then "get fired". They then collect unemployment until it runs out, then get another job.

It is pretty rampant among their Japanese communities. My friend was also staying in Mie for a while, doing the same thing.

That might explain why it has happened 10 times to this guy in 8 years.

A lot of "woe is me" in here, but I have also known plenty of foreigners here for 5-10 years in the same job, or only changing job by choice.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

I’m so glad I moved back to Australia last December

Good call. Wish I was there.

My wife’s transfer out of Japan has been put on hold. This is frustrating for both of us but at least we’ve got money coming in. Some people are in real trouble and I feel for them. Japan isn’t the best place for foreigners at the best of times. Help out your friends if you can.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

The foreign workers in this article are actually from Japanese descendants.

Yup, and they have special visa status that allows them for the most part, to work here, just the same as any other Japanese or foreigner with PR status,

Hell this guy is getting unemployment benefits, and since he was fired, he is eligible to receive those benefits from the following month! Unlike many foreigners here who DONT get those benefits or have not been here long enough.

At least he has income coming in!

2 ( +5 / -3 )

People all over the World are being laid off, and some are as a result in a dire situation. Until it happens to you, it's hard to comprehend. Best of luck to you all.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

expats marry, have jobs, kids, Japanese friends, pay tax, local tax, health insurance, pension, join neighborhood associations, community work, spend income on Japanese products and businesses...we fit in and although we crumble, we care about japan and its future.”

Expats do not expect to stay for the long run and are often western, white, and in white collar positions. What you’re suggesting as “expat” is more like an immigrant. Immigrants don’t always “fit in” and more so in a country like Japan where third generation Chine or Korean descendants still don’t “fit in” nor are accepted

These workers, for many at least, are immigrants. So are migrant workers. Regardless of their status, as usual, they are exploited and seen as disposable. It’s like they’re treated like women here in terms of labor - cheap and disposable.

The comment about how fragile these companies are is bang out. Japan is a house of cards right now and there is going to be a world of hurt for many, regardless of nationality. Still doubt Japan Inc will wake up and start becoming more flexible and cable with the times.

I feel for these workers but yes, anyone coming to Japan in the last ten years should’ve done their research. The crisis and sending people back to Brazil and Peru over a decade ago was the red flag to all.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Being fired is totally different than being laid off. The pain is the same though.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

MagToday  09:24 am JST

Generally speaking, job security will never be available for foreigners working in Japan. It’s a well known fact especially for people who are here on short term visas. These are part of life that you need to accept if you decide to come live and work in Japan. At the end of the day everyone makes their own decision and by choosing Japan as the country to work in they should be prepared for losing jobs at any time on the spot!

Basically, you're right. Japan doesn't owe any foreigner a living (nor does any other country owe foreigners a living). We make a choice to come herald have to take the good with the bad. If we're eligible for assistance when times are hard based on our residency status, then great.

That said, at the moment going back to one's own country could be difficult if not impossible due to travel restrictions. If that's the case, foreign residents who have not paid into the welfare system while working should rely on money sent from home or a personal network/private charity.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Pregnant with her fourth child and with no savings

Have to agree with No Business. Why do these financially-strapped people keep on having them?

2 ( +9 / -7 )

I’m so glad I moved back to Australia last December. I had originally planned to stick it out until April this year. What a huge mistake that would have been! I’ve been able to work full time throughout the lockdown and was given a grand by the government. I’d be scratching for pennies (like so many other foreigners) if I was still in Japan. Good luck to you all. I hope yas can work it out.

9 ( +11 / -2 )

This is the problem with lockdowns. That's why Japan is fighting to keep open as much of the economy as possible and why many countries want to exit lockdowns and restart their own economies.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

The West is going the same way with the gig economy and zero-hours contacts, so this is a capitalism problem, not a Japan-specific one. I feel sorry for these people and am thankful I'm not one of them.

As the Japan angle, the existence of seishain and resulting inflexibility with them means that when companies hit the skids, they will come down harder on their unprotected workers. Job security is a good which society needs, but I suspect Japan takes it too far and maintains it only through exploiting others. Ideally, companies would be encouraged to treat their temporary workers better in exchange for a relaxing of how they treat seishain. Having to employ some big-name university graduate who proves to be hopeless from the age of 25 all the way to 60 sounds like a nightmare to me.

Like the nuclear accident, Covid-19 has me questioning what the government can actually do and it may just be the old staples of "urging" and "recommending".

10 ( +10 / -0 )

1.6 million foreign employees in Japan.

Both "expat" and "charisma man" concepts are horribly outdated by now. those burned out in the 90s as anything of significance. Sure, recruiters might call it an expat position to encourage people to take the job, but the "expat package" is mostly a thing of the past.

As a guess, maybe 1% out of 1.6 million still get that package, if that. Back in the day nearly every foreigner except English teacher had the package and even English teachers got 8000 yen/hr for private lessons.

Those days are long gone as most foreign workers are like the people discussed in this article. These people definitely need some help from the rest of the foreign hiring community to get permanent positions as well as support from the Japanese government/companies that benefits from their labor.

5 ( +9 / -4 )

If someone in the West admires Japan for "permanent employment", I will use this article to slap them in the face.

9 ( +11 / -2 )

my opinion is that "expat" is a thing of the past. There are enough foreigners in Japan working now that a company doesnt need to fly in someone in from overseas, pay their rent, company car, nanny/house cleaner, extra money to shop at foreign supermarket, etc.

Pretty ridiculous blanket statement. It depends on the role. There are plenty of expat roles in Japan still, just go talk to any recruiter in Tokyo.

2 ( +8 / -6 )

my opinion is that "expat" is a thing of the past. There are enough foreigners in Japan working now that a company doesnt need to fly in someone in from overseas, pay their rent, company car, nanny/house cleaner, extra money to shop at foreign supermarket, etc.

Expats generally came to Japan for a short time, made lots of money and then returned to their home country when their assignment passed. Some expats did stay, but over time they became permanent residents or Japanese citizens, not expats anymore.

These days, I wouldnt call anyone who comes to Japan permanently an "expat". I dont see too many of the "expat" type being imported these days. But its just a term, so whatever.

1 ( +7 / -6 )

"If they need you, they hire you; if they don't need you, they'll fire you. It's simple like that,"

This is not just foreign workers!

My three daughters (Japanese) have lost their jobs in retail and service industries .

When businesses close, even the owners become unemployed, be they foreign, highly educated, male or female, old, young, transsexual, conservative or liberal, Christian, or well-connected dentists.

gary

10 ( +11 / -1 )

There is a difference between expats and foreign workers.

expats marry, have jobs, kids, Japanese friends, pay tax, local tax, health insurance, pension, join neighborhood associations, community work, spend income on Japanese products and businesses...we fit in and although we crumble, we care about japan and its future.

How many of these ‘expat’ traits do you need to have before you deserve to be treated with decency?

12 ( +14 / -2 )

The company told her she was being fired because of coronavirus-related production cuts. Nakao, 38, was also ordered to leave her company apartment.

I am aghast. So, jobless, and soon to be homeless. In this time of need.

12 ( +12 / -0 )

The same thing happened in 2008, one of my customers was a heavy equipment manufacturer in Ibaraki and they let go most foreign workers, a majority of them Brazilian .

And when things improved they wanted to hire them back in droves.

Racists, insensitive, ...... don't have enough words to describe the mindset,

6 ( +10 / -4 )

Most countries in the world does this not just Japan. I’m quite critical/against Japan’s old-fashioned work culture and employment policies, this is the reality for most foreigners though. They know the risks and consequences. As the ageing population increases the competition from immigrants will be fierce as Japan is still considered a “developed” country in terms of economy and manufacturing.

Of course things should be improved and now’s the perfect opportunity to do so. Only time will tell.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

If you work hard and bring something new to the company they do look after you. My experience from last 10 years

Not everyone is as fortunate.

11 ( +15 / -4 )

JeffLee: "A group of fired Vietnamese workers told NHK they expect to return to Vietnam with no money, perhaps even in debt. They would have been better off not coming to Japan."

Well, that's why Japan is on the watchlist and ranked #1 in human and labor trafficking in Asia, if not the world, and even Abe has admitted the "intern" program is more or less trafficking and still supports it fully. Then when cases like the one you pointed out come to light they will say: 1) We are not responsible for the possible actions of groups that we sub-contract to, although we promise to be transparent if we look into it. 2) Nothing at all.

What always amazes me is that this nation is the choice of many Asian refugees, despite Japan accepting maybe ONE a year, often sending people back to their certain deaths.

2 ( +13 / -11 )

Japanese take care of their own, we as foreigners don’t have a voice!!

6 ( +10 / -4 )

@Howaitosan...Why is it that ordinary workers are expected to have enough savings to get through weeks or months of unemployment (or to be able to survive on one single payment of ¥100,000), yet multi-billion dollar, multi-national companies start begging for government handouts and engaging in massive staff layoffs in many cases within a week or two of the start of the pandemic?

Excellent comment! You nailed it!

Generally speaking, job security will never be available for foreigners working in Japan. It’s a well known fact especially for people who are here on short term visas. These are part of life that you need to accept if you decide to come live and work in Japan. At the end of the day everyone makes their own decision and by choosing Japan as the country to work in they should be prepared for losing jobs at any time on the spot!

8 ( +13 / -5 )

What else is new? Nothing is going to change here for another 100 years. Rasism and Xenofobia sadly are deeply rooted in the DNA and also education of the locals...

-2 ( +12 / -14 )

The elephant in the room here is the fact that these companies are so financially fragile that they cannot weather a storm like this without government help and immediate layoffs.

So is the Economy - in fact the Economies of most so-called "developed" nations. They started collapsing within weeks of the beginning of this crisis. That is NOT the sign of a strong economy - it's a glaring indication that those economies - and the companies and banks that profit so handsomely off them - were living hand-to-mouth with no fall-back capacity should things go wrong.

Why is it that ordinary workers are expected to have enough savings to get through weeks or months of unemployment (or to be able to survive on one single payment of ¥100,000), yet multi-billion dollar, multi-national companies start begging for government handouts and engaging in massive staff layoffs in many cases within a week or two of the start of the pandemic?

Something is seriously wrong with the World's financial systems if a crisis like this can break them so easily.

23 ( +24 / -1 )

Viewed as a resource and nothing more. Japan’s labor practices are still as they were in the 40’s..

7 ( +13 / -6 )

Pregnant with her fourth child and with no savings

Hmm, something tells me this woman habitually makes poor life decisions.

5 ( +24 / -19 )

It's unfortunate to know of job cuts. It can happen everywhere to anyone .but stop jumping the train that Japanese are so racist. Yes nutjobs are ever where. I'm not Japanese but my pay is higher than most of my Japanese colleagues.

If you work hard and bring something new to the company they do look after you. My experience from last 10 years .

Hard times are coming no doubt about that.

-10 ( +8 / -18 )

The foreign workers in this article are actually from Japanese descendants.

Layoff is unfortunately what is happening in every country when the working status is weak. This guy mentioned has already been laid off nine times before.

Japanese nationals in foreign countries have also the same rights as local if they are residents. If they are jobless in my country, they will get much more than here.

8 ( +13 / -5 )

Duh! Foreign workers are not here as a social experiment, they are not here to introduce new culture, they are not here to help the economies of third world nations.

They are here to do the low paid often dirty and dangerous jobs that Japanese don’t want to do. Not one of them is doing a job a Japanese national could be found for. They will therefore be the first out the door when times are hard. If any of them think otherwise they are sadly misguided.

13 ( +16 / -3 )

@JeffLee

The assistance in most countries is based on residency, not nationality

Look on the globe... How many nations give residency to foreign workers? How many got payment from govt? How many workers rejected wages ( after working, eg: many middle east nations) in the list of nations.. If you make a list then you won't complaint much about Japan.

Not now, in many cases. A group of fired Vietnamese workers told NHK they expect to return to Vietnam with no money, perhaps even in debt. They would have been better off not coming to Japan.

There are over 1.80 million foreign nations working in Japan from over 150 plus nations. Did all Vietnamese ( over 120000 ) said they want to go back to Vietnam??? If the have better off then why they came to Japan??

-22 ( +4 / -26 )

@non party

How many foreign nationals got money from their own nations??

Why would they? The assistance in most countries is based on residency, not nationality. Japanese nationals living in the US, for example, are eligible for government handouts if they have a social security number.

Much better than own nation.

Not now, in many cases. A group of fired Vietnamese workers told NHK they expect to return to Vietnam with no money, perhaps even in debt. They would have been better off not coming to Japan.

24 ( +29 / -5 )

Foreigners , as well as many working class Japanese, are bearing the brunt of the government's refusal to extend unemployment benefits to zero hour contract, gig and PT workers. Many other countries have done this as these types of jobs have flourished due to executive cost cutting.

18 ( +18 / -0 )

Department of Health and Labour could really be dissolved and no one would notice.

13 ( +20 / -7 )

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Thermal Systems declined to comment because it did not employ Nakao.

Some seedy broker did and took a cut of her salary.

Get laid off in Japan and workers have less and less chance of redress.

18 ( +21 / -3 )

They need to start changing things if they want more foreigners to work in Japan for the long haul.

20 ( +26 / -6 )

Foreign workers on short-term contracts are laid off first,

And that shows how stupid Japanese companies are. They need desperately to cut costs, so what do they do? They fire the most cost-effective members of their workforce -- in order to retain their most costly ones.

If those companies jettisoned regular workers and their Japanese part timers, they'd have a much better chance of weathering the hard times. Instead, they'll target the foreigners and then go begging to the government for a bailout or other public assistance.

34 ( +43 / -9 )

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