Japan pandemic jobless data mask problems for millions: experts

By Harumi Ozawa and Etienne Balmer

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> "I earn less than 10 percent of my salary," she said. "Right now I'm living on my savings. But they are almost completely gone."

Many others are in the same boat.

I wonder how some are surviving to pay rent and food plus the other numerous taxes?

21 ( +21 / -0 )

Yeah, they will just hide any real evidence and pretend it doesn't exist.

22 ( +22 / -0 )

4.2 million are on this furlough system, according to government data, some six percent of the workforce.

> These staff are still technically on the payroll of their firms and so not included in the official unemployment data but many temporary workers complain they are getting paid very little or nothing at all.

So they are not earning any money at all, no salary and yet they are not considered unemployed. 2.9 or 3% unemployment rate is BS.

Fudged numbers.

25 ( +25 / -0 )

Just cooking the books as ever because appearance is paramount. Like putting lipstick on a pig!

24 ( +24 / -0 )

3 million actually unemployed. 4.2 million furlough. About 7 million not working.

14 ( +15 / -1 )

Shift workers are the working poor, they just barely stay afloat working two, three jobs at a time, so the unemployment numbers can be very misleading. While all this is going on Abe just received his summer bonus of over 4 mil yen and Anri and Kawai both received close to 4 mil yen in their bonuses too. SMEs are going belly up, no one knows just how bad the populace is suffering economically and yet these folks along with all the bureaucrats received their bonuses. No share the pain in Japan, rather; "let them eat cake."

22 ( +22 / -0 )

"When the economy comes back, they can use them again. Shift workers are nothing but a convenient buffer."

Always have Ben, and always will be - until the Japanese government decides to do something about it's abhorent

16 ( +16 / -0 )

... it's abhorrent labor practices and laws.

21 ( +21 / -0 )

Cooking the books. Nice numbers, Japan.

15 ( +15 / -0 )

Unemployment figures were false before, with 40% (60%) of the workers now in doubt of getting any income there must be spurious fudging of figures by the Ministry of unpaid Labour and slavery. At least Dysneyland is open!

11 ( +11 / -0 )

We have been seeing about a 35% increase in jobless candidates recently and the numbers grow every day.

13 ( +13 / -0 )

Anyone who believes the LDP figures on anything is a gullible sap.

Remember when they told us it was just steam escaping from the Fukushima Nuclear Plant? And that Fukushima was totally under control?

And more recently, how there was no COVID-19 problem until the day after the Olympics got cancelled?

Fool me once, shame on you. Tell me more lies, you get called a lying b'stard.

12 ( +12 / -0 )

I can attest for myself that my income has been halved since the "state of emergency" was declared. My employer has been paying me 60%(only because of the LAW) but the govt has still been extracting their "share" 100%, leaving me with about 40%. Fortunately for me, my spouse has been teleworking throughout and getting her full salary, but the pittance that the govt "gave" was gone before it ever arrived. I'm back to work, sort of, working 2 or three halfdays a week compared to 6 days originally. Barely making ends meet.

That said, the true unemployed/underemployed numbers must be magnitudes higher than the "official" numbers.

17 ( +17 / -0 )

Lots of jobs in agriculture, nursing. I don't see why people feel entitled to work in the same industry there whole lives. Maybe Japan doesn't need to rely on foreign workers so much.

-18 ( +5 / -23 )

that official unemployment rate is BS.

i know that many people who have lost jobs as part timers,contract workers etc are not registered as "unemployed"...real numbers of unemployment are much much higher guys...

10 ( +10 / -0 )

I can tell you how it is with part time workers at my company. They don't work at all, shyachyo came and said only full time workers as there are many of us here.

But part time got extended 60% pay from the government till the end of September. They don't have to work and nenkin and hoken paid. Although there are some companies who doesn't apply for government help.

Guess who was mostly left without any help, foreigners...

12 ( +13 / -1 )

We all know how much the Japanese government loves fudging numbers, just like how they fudged corona virus case numbers before cancelling the Olympics..

11 ( +12 / -1 )

7.3 million part timers.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Lots of jobs in agriculture, nursing.."

Yeah right, what nonsense... ..because its so easy to cruise from completely unrelated job into nursing in the space of a couple of months...or quit your life in the city and move to countryside to work in " agriculture " as you say for the slaveowners that pay their foreign workers 500 yen per hour. Have you gone through the experience ?...Please , do share..

15 ( +15 / -0 )

Even if Japan has "perfect employment" that LDP cronies like Aso suggest, then I bet more than 60% of them are unpaid or paid-cut. Not to mention, it is also estimated that 80% of them are working in multiple, part-time jobs.

A lot of Western capitalists and financiers do not believe in most J-govt statistics, especially labor statistics.

6 ( +6 / -0 )


So how long do you remain unemployed before you realize you might not find much work for 5 or 10 years? I realize my comment wasn't that popular with many Japantoday commenters that feel people are entitled, but you gotta do what you gotta do. Who ever said you are entitled to your career when you first found employment? Maybe if more 'native Japanese' were in agriculture, there would be better pay. Who says you gotta be a slave to work in agriculture? Be creative and start a 'rooftop agriculture' company or something. Look at what the residents of Gaza have done. THINK!

-10 ( +5 / -15 )

Be creative and start a 'rooftop agriculture' company or something.

I am looking for work, Is your rooftop agriculture business not recruiting ?

My e-commerce business relying mostly on exports is grounded with the grounding of commercial flights and not qualified for the 2M yen since my business started to take off this year. So despite zero sales the past 3 months not qualified, meanwhile I am bombarded with taxes. According to the government, since I am not receiving unemployment benefit I am employed eventhough I have been for months without revenue.

Good job creating a paradise-like image in the eyes of those wh don't know


9 ( +10 / -1 )

As Mark Twain said "Facts are stubborn, but statistics are more pliable." The numbers are misleading unless you read them in context, and definitely do not compare them to statistics in other countries which have entirely different measuring systems.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

The data is collected and processed and presented in a way that is advantageous to the government, and disadvantageous to anyone who is not in permanent fulltime employment. Unemployment statistics worldwise work largely the same way. No government wants an accurate picture of a problem it would then be forced to address.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Other countries have their own issues with crisis management, business and employment but Japan Inc. is squeezing workers in this crisis in its own unique way. Echoing others, schedule cut to zero due to corona so effectively fired, quickly got another job offer but it was rescinded when a corona hiring freeze was put in space, couldn't qualify for unemployment due to irregular scheduling , still no stimulus money but tax bills for tens of thousands of yen keep arriving like there is not a care in the world and 2020 is all cornucopias and gold lined streets.

13 ( +13 / -0 )

All I can suggest is that you try to make ends meet for the time being and take any reasonable job. When I first came to Japan I did private English lessons for 3000 yen/hour and was doing fine being paid cash. Once you get 1-2 students they were happy to introduce me to others. I also worked as a bartender in a snack (1500 yen/hour) and now I hate whiskey, enka and tobacco smoke. Good luck.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

This means firms are reluctant to lay people off even during a recession, as they fear they will have few options to recruit when the crisis passes.

Really? Come talk to my work place then. They had NO problem laying people off.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Whenever the government steps in, there is always a line that creates winners and losers. Support for something like childcare, assistance following a natural disaster, and now this pandemic, it's always the same. Some people get help and others, sometimes in a near identical situation, get little or nothing.

Covid-19 is affecting a huge swath of the economy and that means far more cracks for people to fall through. The government will know this and has a duty to do something about it.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

When I first came to Japan I did private English lessons for 3000 yen/hour and was doing fine being paid cash. 

Goodluck getting a private lesson that pays 2,000/hour when it can done online from cebu for 1,000yen an hour.

With 40% of the workforce on low pay contract work, disposable income is just not there.

8 ( +10 / -2 )

All the while, the government still demands its pound of flesh. Still expects residence taxes to be paid on time while incomes in the private sector are slashed through business shutdowns and the ripple effect of that.

Yet how many politicians and public servants, who produce nothing, comfortably insulated with salaries paid by we the suckers, are taking a pay cut?

10 ( +11 / -1 )

Our city Tatsuno is offering interest free loans repaid over 2-10 years.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

There appear to be many positions for English teachers on JapanToday's job site.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

The J-govt has been fudging un-employments rates for decades & counting, since forever basically.

I figure as a rough estimate one should at least double to govts rate & possibly add a couple more percentage points to get a more realistic figure

6 ( +6 / -0 )


There appear to be many positions for English teachers on JapanToday's job site.

I couldn't see any?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Whether the numbers are correct or not is moot. Migrant workers are exactly that - whatever the impelling reason for working in Japan, instead of one's home country. Those who work in a carpetbagging industry because they have a degree and speak English are not exactly offering an essential service or contributing greatly to the economic engine of Japan. Engaging in domestic work, assembly, laborer, agriculture, healthcare worker - doubtful most posting in English inhabit those occupations - those are necessary and exploited - you need a magic lamp to unravel that fact? Certified teachers and professors, that is a different category and to a degree an essential worker. Engineers, physicians, nurses, shop owners, restaurant & service industries, etc., those are skilled and important. The reality of the situation is caused by a pandemic. Whatever role the governments have is a duty to their citizens and naught to a pool of migrant labor, that is part & parcel of the economic system. Yeah, yeah, yeah you pay taxes and you also receive services in return. That you are not afforded, what is best described as 'magical thinking' illustrates the absurdity of expectation and denies the fact the circumstances are institutional and systemic and you live in a foreign country not your own. The governments owe their citizenry and as unfortunate as it may be, you are not, but those advantages and small entitlements gained as a foreigner are forgot. You were expecting a government bailout in a manipulated market economy, as a foreigner? That is beyond naive. You do not live in a welfare state, which is to simply identify this is not a social democracy, it is a client-state modeled in kind after one of the most brutal capitalist nations on earth, though fortunately lacking in some of its more atavistic threads.

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

Richard is absolutely correct. The sense of entitlement among most foreign commenters on this forum is abhorrent.

-1 ( +6 / -7 )


So how long do you remain unemployed before you realize you might not find much work for 5 or 10 years?

Its fine to retrain for a 2nd career mid life but its not something you easily do in a few months amid a pandemic / SOE now is it?

I realize my comment wasn't that popular with many Japantoday commenters that feel people are entitled,

Nah...not because we feel people are entitled but because the comment made no sense.

Maybe if more 'native Japanese' were in agriculture, there would be better pay.

Think you have that backwards ...Japanese dont want to work in agriculture because pay is not great and work is the farmers had to turn to using imported slave labor under the " trainee" program guise which drives the wages even lower. Of course, the agri produce prices remain high as ever in this rigged , JA controlled system.

Be creative and start a 'rooftop agriculture' company or something.

Have you started one? You think the lowest paid contract partimers being laid off here, can start eco farming on the roofs of their rented apartment buildings? Have you even seen the J-apartment roofs?


Indeed, one should , preferably before posting.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

There is a jobs section if you look at JapanToday on your laptop, not the iphone site.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Ha, yes there are jobs at the lowest pay in the G7, that's if you want to teach wingish, and yes you could start a rooftop garden if the landlord is ok with that? And the council is on board. Then JA will be curious as to where the seeds came from and how you are going to sell the produce?

Having no Job and trying to be creative for income in Japan presents a plethora of new problems involving local, prefecture, government forms and hurdles. Basically you are no longer a human just TRASH in their eyes.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

The government launched a massive economic package that includes funds to help businesses keep employees on -- 4.2 million are on this furlough system, These staff are still technically on the payroll of their firms and so not included in the official unemployment data but many temporary workers complain they are getting paid very little or nothing at all.

I just wonder if any of these companies are pocketing the cash from the government, and not passing it onto the workers, if the workers complain, they could be dismissed as they are temps. personally if no one was paying me to stop at home I would just go out and find another job.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Richard, the non-Japanese population is a tiny proportion of the total propagation here. So in numerical terms it's Japanese people who are getting done over by their own government's urges to stay at home and away from businesses. A lot of locals are getting pretty fed up at having their livelihoods hampered or destroyed by government order while the mandarins get to draw their salaries from the tax take with no penalty. They don't show it much in public, but underneath that stoic exterior is a lot of resentment.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Nothing like using people. It's cheaper, easier. People have limited resources to fight back. When big brother is supporting big business then small guys have big problems. As i said before, what goes around comes around.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The Japanese government is comply useless In understanding the plight of the ordinary Japanese, let alone any foreigner here.

This year I will be starting new economic ventures outside Japan,I am tired of the high taxes and red tape along with charges for pieces of paper that are, not at all necessary.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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