Katsuya Takasu, MD, is not only a man who has acquired considerable wealth through his chain of cosmetic surgery clinics. He is also a person of strong opinions, which he airs in a regular column in Yukan Fuji.
His somewhat rambling column of Dec 11 concerns the Diet's recent passing of a law to enable blue-collar foreign workers to enter Japan in large numbers.
"If a good system is not put in place, we'll fail," he warns.
Takasu of course is well aware that a number of business sectors are facing shortages of workers, and as evidence of this, points to the growing frequency of young foreigners working behind counters at convenience stores.
"I suppose they are here on student visas and working while studying at Japanese schools," he writes. "Presently the convenience store business would never be able to maintain its round-the-clock, 365-days-a-year operation without foreign workers."
Perhaps to young Japanese, working part-time at a convenience store may seem like a menial job, but for the working foreigner it provides an opportunity not only to learn Japanese, but to acquire knowhow in customer service and in retail operations. In fact, remarks Takasu, it may provide them with more practical and meaningful social education than they get from attending a school. Such jobs also enable them to obtain trends in information while getting paid a salary.
The actual problem, if there is one, is that in Japan, an affluent country where no one suffers from food shortages, a certain number of people may be willing to entrust more and more jobs to foreign workers. Dubai, UAE. is one such country, which has energetically been accepting foreigners and developed its economy along those lines. But in such cases it is necessary for Dubai citizens to be company directors, and the system is set up for the foreigners to supply raw labor while Dubai nationals hold managerial positions with higher wages.
If Japan is to be regarded as an "appealing" place in which foreigners can come to work, Takasu sees no problem as it makes the country all the more appealing. The labor shortage provides the foreign workers with an opportunity after all. China, while more appealing in terms of being able to earn large profits, cannot provide the same degree of security and social stability.
So what concerns Takasu? "Overstays by the blue-collar workers," he says. "In the past when their duration of stay ended, they returned to their home countries; but once in the country, some of them will stay, and there will be more cases of them starting families with Japanese women. This could be a growing problem."
Of course, Takasu's in favor of measures to improve the conditions for low-wage technical trainees, and says a better system will be called for if their numbers are to expand in the future.
But more than that, Takasu is worried that as more and more of foreign workers enter the country, some may eventually obtain Japanese citizenship -- to which he issues a resounding "no." "This," he asserts, "would definitely lead to political problems. So while admission of foreign workers may serve as a stopgap measure to relieve the current labor shortage, the underlying problem -- that Japan cannot expect any increase in its population -- will remain.© Japan Today