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Business lobby seeks to relax rules on foreign household helpers in Japan

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By Lisa Twaronite

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I couldnt find anyone who would commit to full-time work and was willing to perform multiple job duties, from childcare to cleaning to marketing.........

Marketing? A bit much to ask of a maid surely.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

@Green Panda

Care robots are already being developed and some are available but I guess in the end nothing rarely replaces the human touch?

6 ( +6 / -0 )

I'm not too worried about this issue. I have a feeling that this problem will be solved in time, when hordes of elderly Japanese people finally get their pensions cut to the point that they cannot survive with taking on some kind of work, no matter how lowly. In fact, I think it's already happening. Have you ever encountered, say, a young or foreign toilet cleaner here? Sure, they exist, but actually the majority of them are elderly Japanese women (who presumably aren't qualified to do anything else, because who would actually choose to do that kind of job?). Along the same lines, I've noticed that quite a few elder-care workers are themselves elderly and only a few years away from being in need of same care.

This morning there were dozens of street sweepers out in my neighborhood for the year-end cleaning. All of them were wearing city uniforms, all of them were men, and not one of them was a day under 65.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Japan is not overcrowded - Tokyo, Osaka, etc. are crowded. The rest of the country has tons of room, especially for farm help. Fields are lying fallow due to retired farmers, and youth who have no interest or cannot support themselves farming.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

As far as the comment that Japan is overpopulated goes - I have lived in northern Aomori for 7 years and lately I have been seeing more monkeys and kamoshika in the road then I have been seeing people in the streets. Tokyo and other big cities in Kanto/Kansai are overcrowded - everywhere else it looks like the human race is going extinct. I would LOVE to have an influx of any type of people doing any job. I think locals living around me would like it to - they seem to beg the foreigners to stay where I live and go out of their way to accomodate. Its very different in the countryside. If anyone wants to buy land cheap it is available en masse up here. Maybe we can turn Aomori into a little "rest of the world" town and start our own economy. Thats one of my pipe dreams.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Most of the jobs available for women are part time and poorly paid. They do not pay enough to allow someone to employ domestic help.

This sounds like an LDP ruse to lower salaries even further: the "domestic workers" will end up doing jobs currently done by Japanese, but for much lower salaries, rather like the foreign "trainee" scam works at present.

Japan does not need to import cheap, unskilled labour. Businesses should be required to pay a living wage to all employees, instead of trying to bring in foreigners on subsistence salaries.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Yea Harry_Gatto, I'm sure "marketing" means "going to the market", but at first it did sound a little like Product Development, and PR might have been other expectations of the domestic helper.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Japan is not overcrowded - Tokyo, Osaka, etc. are crowded. The rest of the country has tons of room

I agree. It seems like everytime I watch NHK, they are doing a story about how some small village is closing it's last school because of not enough students. The younger people have all moved away to the big cities. What needs to happen is that some major firm needs to be the first to break out of Tokyo, Osaka, etc, and find some smaller area to base operations, and before long the others will decide to do so. It is hard trying to break the "froup think" mentality here in Japan but it must happen if Japan is to survive.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Homeland

Domestic help is a HUGE assistance, and it's a more than a little warped that I can hire a small army of foreign staff and sponsor them all, but my Japanese acquaintances cannot. We can really see the consequences; their wives look exhausted and underslept and aging prematurely; I cannot imagine how a household runs without a nurse for the children.

Hahahaha....this is a windup, right? "I cannot imagine how a household runs without a nurse for the children". Indeed, call for Mary Poppins....And you can hire an army of domestic helpers, can you? - you must be an Ambassador at least.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

First world problems, to say the least.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

Japan doesnt need to be another United States

3 ( +7 / -4 )

We need a maid, but J-companies charge ridiculous rates, unconscionably expensive. I want a nice Filipina/o for a decent rate. Open up!

3 ( +5 / -2 )

"But a year after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe took office, an idea that some thought might be an easy win for immigration reform while meeting a stated aim of Abe’s growth strategy has made no apparent progress."

Abe's government has made no progress in terms of promises to the common people of Japan. He's made progress in terms of promises to ease taxes for corporations, to increase consumption tax, to hike up defense spending, to white-wash history and bring back a pre-war Japan (with the secrecy act in particular). But where is my increased household salary?

Zartan: "Japan is already too crowded. Population decline followed by stabilization would be a blessing for future generations"

The problem is, it would not be a blessing at all. The population is aging, and with a long lifespan it will be a population soon of some 50% retired to 30% working and 20% kids. Who is going to support the elderly? especially given the fact that Japanese are often unwilling to take on the kind of jobs, such as in this article, that foreigners ARE willing to do? Yes, a population decline in the very distant future MIGHT help stabilize certain facets of society, but it will collapse long before that due to the burden on social institutions that the aging population will put on it. Unless you are willing, of course, to throw away any laws against overtime work, have dual income households with costs so high they are completely unwilling to have children (or more than one, anyway), and taxes sky-rocket to take care of the elderly. Without help, this nation will be unsustainable in the near future.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

The idea of nannies as a way to release the working potential of young mothers is intriguing, but I suspect there would be very serious cultural barriers to overcome first.

You are right there, in more ways than you think. For example, how is a foreign nanny, fresh off the plane, supposed to take charge of the shopping in a supermarket when she can't read any of the food labels, and where none of staff speak any language but Japanese? Or deal with home deliveries? Or navigate the perplexing school system, or deal with PTA meetings? Will she really be able to cope in case of emergency or natural disaster? How about doctor visits? Importing foreigners who speak only rudimentary Japan is not going to solve the problem; on the contrary it's going to invite a whole lot more. That's why I believe that Japan is better off making better use of its plentiful elderly people (which it already seems to be doing, as I've posted above). Quite a few of the elderly women I know - and a small number of men - are working as babysitters for both their grandchildren, and/or their own invalid parents. Their lives are hard, and they don't like it much, but I suspect that getting paid for it would make the deal much sweeter.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

"There are too many Japanese men and women who can not find any job and under public assistance. They are willing to do any work but can not find one. Why should Japan hire house workers from outside?"

The answer is simple. Japanese dont want to do this type of work. Japanese tell me "its for filipinos" I read there are 95 jobs for every 100 applicants in Japan. Good question- why are many out of work? They dont want to do those jobs. Dont blame the outside worker, blame the person and system. For Japanese, a job is part of their status or life career and it means belonging to a group, something that is crucial to social acceptance in Japan. To work in a ryojin home might upset their career track. Its a different mentality than other countries where a job is a job and a means to a better future. In Japan a job means lifetime employment and a group, family type structure with stability.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

“I couldn’t find anyone who would commit to full-time work and was willing to perform multiple job duties, from childcare to cleaning to marketing,” she said.

Translation : I couldn't find a volunteer slave willing to work 24/24 for just enough to eat...except from a much poorer country.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Folks,

This idea has little to nothing to do with maids for Japanese families, its for foreigners/ex-pats who live in the golden ghetto who are too cheap to pay a Japanese a living wage!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Good luck persuadiang a Japanese woman - AND in particular her mother and mother in law - that she should go back to work and leave the baby, not only with a non-family member, but a foreigner at that. Most J women I knew were berated for even sending their kids to a pre-school, never mind daycare. Unless it was an Englsh pre-school of course. THAT was ok.

Good luck persuading her husband as well. What - the wife get some independence? Self-confidence? That could be dangerous.... and anyway, who will have my delicious miso soup ready for when I get home. A foreigner couldnt possibly understand the subtle art of mixing dashi and water and adding some miso paste.

And PLEASE - can I be a fly on the wall the day hordes of foreign non-J speaking women announce to the PTA committee leaders that THEY will be taking on the role of bazaar organizer / class photographer / safety patrol in place of lttle Taro Tanakas mommy - because she has to work 18 hours a day. I would LOVE to see how that pans out!!!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

This is a load of crap, this is about rich people hiring cheap labor maids from poor countries. They raise 3-4 different points from female labor to immigration to a bunch of other unrelated stuff to try to validate their claims.

Rich foreigners should just pay LOCAL JAPANESE people the going rate for services.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

There are too many Japanese men and women who can not find any job and under public assistance. They are willing to do any work but can not find one. Why should Japan hire house workers from outside?

1 ( +6 / -5 )

If there was anytime for Japan to develop robot caretakers and workers now would be a good time. Considering Google just purchased one of Japan's up and coming robot companies (amongst 8 other including Boston Dynamics), Japanese robot companies need to merge with each other in order to compete globally with Google someday soon.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

JSTOKYO....lol...indeed. They would make the perfect employee at any J- company too.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Hiring a nanny or maid? I believe the saying is owning a horse is poverty! What percent of working people have such excess of money that this is even an option? Guess the rich are getting richer

1 ( +1 / -0 )

"immigration reform while meeting a stated aim of Abe’s growth strategy has made no apparent progress"

Immigration will never take place in Japan; this country has a long history of being closed on every level for anything foriegn. To become like Hong Kong or Singapore, there would have to be radical changes made, and this is not something the Japanese will ever endorse. Japanese will invent another unique solution to the decreasing population problem. Some have told me it will be robots, others say it will be the old will take care of the older (40-50 taking care of 70-90) providing jobs for unemployable housewives, etc.

"Japan is already too crowded. Population decline followed by stabilization would be a blessing for future generations -- more resources, like land, to go around"

You dont understand how Japan operates. In order to be a leading economy, a country requires enormous labor resources, education, infrastructure etc. The average Japanese in Japan lives in very modest conditions, some would qualify as poverty in some countries. They are suffering for the good of the whole and not interested in a leisure lifestyle. Sure, Japan could become a Phillipines, easy lifestyle, etc, but it would have to sacrifice all of its industry, and where would its income come from? Tourism, banking, etc? Japans economy is based on export, requiring huge labor and pension requirements. Japan could remain a world power and live comfortably if they spread othe industry instead of concentration in the Kanto area. The reasons for this are too complicated to discuss here, but Japan Inc. is not based on a quality of life model.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

One of the basic misunderstandings that the outside world has of Japan is that it thinks of Japan as the rest of the world. Japan isnt interested in joining the world as far as multiculturalism, equality etc. Quality of life is not a priority either. Japan wants to do things its way with Japan Inc taking the lead. This is not being racist, its just a reality. Once you accept this and that things will not change in a way, say similiar to a more progressive western democracy, then you have a starting point to work from. Foriegn Nurses has already been tried, the results were poor as many returned home due to "language and cultural barriers" If anybody has any suggestions on how this might work, Im open to it, but so far the trend has not been good.

0 ( +6 / -6 )

"Marketing? A bit much to ask of a maid surely."

Harry_Gatto, Leave it to an American to want all that. Definitely, a big shot at GS or some other finance company that is too smart to be paying minimum wages to any slacker.

Seriously, a better way to put it would have been to go food or other shopping.... It would be strange if the poor maid had to buy ads or post product pics to Facebook or other social networks or worse promote the guy's on the side online business or MLM to her family and friends.

In the very strange event that was the case and I am not putting beyond some people - make the Americans hire Japanese!!

0 ( +2 / -2 )

The idea of nannies as a way to release the working potential of young mothers is intriguing, but I suspect there would be very serious cultural barriers to overcome first. When my children were young, my American father was surprised by my turning down his offer of providing us with a cleaning woman. I just knew that my wife would end up spending more time preparing for the cleaning woman's arrival (by productively cleaning and also cooking for her) than she would by just being left alone.

Perhaps things are different in Tokyo.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

So basically immigration will be seeing an influx with Filipino nannies and a big wave of English teachers the education ministry is talking about bringing in, looks like the first waves of foreign workers to join the work force to revitalise the economy?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Well. Bring in the foreign workers into Japan hey? Well, if you do that there is a chance that multi-culturism may creep in. And we have all seen what has happened when multi-culturism takes over. Look at the USA, UK, France, Australia....perfect examples of failed multi-culturism. One thing I know is it doesn’t work. If Japan cannot be self-sufficient within their own ranks to organise child-care and/or housekeepers then there is a major issue with the dedication the Japanese public have for economic growth on the global stage. Or if foreigners are required, look at what they do in some other countries. A certain time frame for the visa then leave the country. Whatever.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

frank07: I agree, but read the article, the points it raises are valid but tried to apply them to rich American's that can't hire cheap labor from other countries. boo hoo... hire a local first!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Non-Japanese, non-permanent residents of Japan can already hire and sponsor non-Japanese maids etc. The proposed change would extend this to enable non-Japanese permanent residents of Japan and Japanese citizens also to hire and sponsor non-Japanese maids if they should want to. Some may not want to, but it is aimed at removing one obstacle to working currently faced by Japanese mothers when considering joining or re-joining the workforce.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

This is just a bunch of people looking for cheap labour. I would like the readers to consider how many of you are comfortable surviving on 100,000~150,000 yen per month, with no insurance coverage, rearely paid transportation, no accommodation provided and families to take care of back home. That is how much Foreigner house workers are paid. Japanese will never work for those kinds of positions and that is why these people are pushing for those reforms. Oh! and the immigration in an undulated response of the current governmental policies, is actively cheating foreigners out of their visas and throwing them out.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The Hone--hidden agenda--is racial purity and social stability (crime rate, etc). Can't blame Japan, just listen to JustinPascoe31DEC. 16, 2013 - 05:39AM JST

"Well. Bring in the foreign workers into Japan hey? Well, if you do that there is a chance that multi-culturism may creep in. And we have all seen what has happened when multi-culturism takes over. Look at the USA, UK, France, Australia....perfect examples of failed multi-culturism. One thing I know is it doesn’t work."

Build a industrial zone on solitary islands and let foreign workers live their own lives there.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

So what area of Tokyo will all the "helpers" gather in on Sunday, their day off? Some of you may have seen that in Hong Kong.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

If you ask your friends or neighbors, you can find a helper 3,000 or even 2,000yen for a few hour work. Or you can ask a silver center, They are not expensive.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Why do all the help have to be Filipinas?? I am looking for a hot, young sexy French maid ASAP! 1,500 yen an hour here in down town Tokyo, now! Merci!

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

" I think locals living around me would like it to - they seem to beg the foreigners to stay where I live and go out of their way to accomodate"

Is this true? I have heard that in the inaka people are more intolerant towards the foriegner, but a part of me thinks this is not the case.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

maybe they should try it on a small-scale first before opening up the floodgates. I can understand the benefits: Mother goes to work, has more income, more free time, and hopefully more children.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

@Tessa,

I have heard talk of a "baby boom" that might take place once the economy recovers. There might even be a population resurge, as Japanese tend to groupthink and once the situation becomes critical,they react.

@Zartan,

I agree that Japan is overcrowded, but what to do with those crowds when they all turn 70? The positions they once were posted in will be done away with? Once they all turn 70, you can average they will live to 90, so thats 20 years more of care, medical etc.There will be a "unique" solution to all of it, Im guessing it will be more gaman and older people doing the service industry jobs, out of obligation to conformity and nationalism. If immigration reform is to happen, it should start now. Once those crowds have all peaked at 70, its too late; its why I dont think you will ever see loads of immigrants coming here.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Me thinks robots are much better than foreign household helpers. It is much easier for robots to adapt and fit into society, than it is for foreign household helpers.

Robots always obey orders, they never question or complain, they never expose family secrets to outsiders, there is no risk of them stealing or lying, they do not eat funny smelling food, they don't mind working overtime for no extra pay, and one can always scream at them or hurl things at them to take out one's frustration after a hard day at the office.

I don't understand why anyone would chose foreign household helpers over robots.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

Japan is already too crowded. Population decline followed by stabilization would be a blessing for future generations -- more resources, like land, to go around. The old-timers are going to die off soon, problem solved, but that horde of foreign servants you brought in to care for them will remain and multiply, forever changing the character of your country (likely for the worse). Growth is not the best economic model. A model based on increased efficiency is best. Our planet cannot continue to support unending growth.

-3 ( +6 / -9 )

Japan is still 200 years in the past on these issues ....

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

Ha ha! Miss the point much? First they have to give foreign workers a reason to come to Japan.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

“It’s as if the government is preventing these supply and demand curves from meeting.”

That's basically what governments do! And in the form of government regulations!

But she does have a good point. Domestic help is a HUGE assistance, and it's a more than a little warped that I can hire a small army of foreign staff and sponsor them all, but my Japanese acquaintances cannot. We can really see the consequences; their wives look exhausted and underslept and aging prematurely; I cannot imagine how a household runs without a nurse for the children. Hopefully Abe can push through this reform for the sake of the economy.

-11 ( +2 / -13 )

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