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Vietnamese workers, streaming to Japan, face risks as labor system opens up

38 Comments
By Linda Sieg and Ami Miyazaki

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38 Comments
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But returning home would leave her unable to pay back the $10,000 she borrowed to pay "recruiters" there.

Sounds dodgy as sin to me.

20 ( +21 / -1 )

Having large numbers of people from poor countries locked into low-wage work and then sent home after 2-4 years will actually be bad for Japan's macro economy, given that consumption accounts for 60% of GDP.

However, the corporations will get bigger profits (to send to Panama) and thus a small number of very rich people will get even richer. A grossly unfair public policy that 99% of us should oppose.

20 ( +21 / -1 )

Pay back 10 grand on minimum wage here... It is not going to happen.

13 ( +13 / -0 )

But returning home would leave her unable to pay back the $10,000 she borrowed to pay recruiters there.

Neither Japan nor Vietnam uses dollars.

So $10k of what dollars? American? Hong Kong? Australia? Singapore?

-2 ( +9 / -11 )

If the number were in Vietnamese Dong instead of dollars then it would have little meaning for most readers here...

3 ( +7 / -4 )

So $10k of what dollars? American? Hong Kong? Australia? Singapore?

In Vietnam $USD is more readily accepted than its own currency $VND. So I sssume the report meant $USD.

0 ( +7 / -7 )

If the number were in Vietnamese Dong instead of dollars then it would have little meaning for most readers here...

Well, right now the value has essentially been stated as 10,000 credits. Which is meaningless, because I don't know what the exchange rate of credits to yen/dong is.

While VD may not be as meaningful to some posters from reading it, the number can be used with a real exchange rate by users to get the number in a value they can understand, should they so choose.

-6 ( +4 / -10 )

The picture is showing a some kind of religious ritual. I think they are Buddhists. A very different scene we see at temples in Japan. Foreign medias including JT, keep on reporting violations of human rights in Japan.

-7 ( +2 / -9 )

Agree with most here and the tone of the story, mighty ¥en trumps humanity.

The world found out during the late Showa - Early Heisei era that Japan was not up for global moral, ethical or economic leadership, despite its success. This story says either the above legacy lingers, or it's innate in Japanese culture.

Having said above, when I was last in Japan my assistant was from Nepal, and we dealt with many foreign ex-pat and Japanese, all very moral and ethical and no hint of exploitation, so I am encouraged that at grass roots level, Japan has potential. This is relative to my experience in China and Singapore where exploitation was just rampant, and in your face.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

It's a Reuters wire story so of course it means USD.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

It's a Reuters wire story so of course it means USD

Well, "of course" implies that this is knowledge that is known.

Does Reuters state somewhere that any dollar values in their stories are in USD (unless stated otherwise)?

-3 ( +5 / -8 )

Well, "of course" implies that this is knowledge that is known.

For our regular readers, I would hope so. Are AP or Reuters wire stories new to you? If you're reading the Toronto Star, I'd guess you know what dollar figures mean unless stated otherwise.

As a general practice, that JT too often seems like the USA Today, it's a good pt. Lots of readers new to JT wouldn't know.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

For our regular readers, I would hope so.

Why? I accept that it may be standard knowledge, and if so, how are people getting this information? Where is it stated?

Are AP or Reuters wire stories new to you?

I read their stories on news from around the world - like this site, Japan Today.

If you're reading the Toronto Star, I'd guess you know what dollar figures mean unless stated otherwise.

If I'm reading the Canadian news, I would assume that it would be Canadian dollars, due to the context. What context do dollars have in Japan (yen) and VN (dong)?

-9 ( +2 / -11 )

You're an educated person reading US wire stories and have been for years. They always use the dollar symbol to reflect USD unless otherwise stated. And you glanced over the fact that I don't think it's a good policy to carry foreign wire stories without some local interpretation. But your pretending you don't know is just silly.

6 ( +9 / -3 )

I'm not too worried about the currency the fee was paid in but I have to agree that recruiters who charge the person and not the company are dodgy as sin. Sounds like a perfect way to end up nearly a slave.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

"Life in Japan is convenient, and the air is clean," she told Reuters in careful Japanese during a break from work.

I bet it's easier to cross the roads in Japan, too!

Careful Japanese? Was her supervisor listening in?

2 ( +4 / -2 )

"He recalled how foreigners were laid off in droves after the 2008 global financial crisis"

The Japan's unemployment rate during the financial was  crisis at an all-time high of 5.7. Many Japanese lost their jobs. It was not just foreigners. Many countries were sending their foreigners home.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Heisei... what a misnomer for a few decades.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

@kuri

Its the amount to pay back was 10,000 Vietnamese dong it would be acceptable.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Because trainees are not permitted to switch employers, leaving their jobs usually means losing legal visa status.

And here lies the problem. The very simple solution would be to simply allow them to switch jobs freely on the market. That would instantly prevent any abuses, much faster and effectively than all the government agencies in the world combined.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I know its not perfect, but at least they're working on immigration policy unlike here in US

0 ( +2 / -2 )

In Vietnam $USD is more readily accepted than its own currency $VND. 

No true anymore. If someone is eager to take USD, it is only because they are going to rake you over with the exchange rate.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Oh, modern Slavery and Japan... What else is new?? This practice is since the ‘80, and sadely nothing changed. It even got worst over the years.

just look how many ‘outsourcing’ companies are out there bringing cheap labor from Vietnam, Philippines , China, etc...

3 ( +3 / -0 )

@StrangerlandToday  ”I don't know what the exchange rate of credits to yen/dong is.” Reallly? Type it in Google and your answer is 232,100,000

But where do you know it was in VDN? The report says $10k so unless you have some inside knowledge, keep your opinions to yourself.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

@StrangerlandToday  ”I don't know what the exchange rate of credits to yen/dong is.” Reallly? Type it in Google and your answer is 232,100,000

Google isn't showing me an exchange rate between credits and dongs, nor between credits and yen. I think you've made a mistake somewhere.

But where do you know it was in VDN? The report says $10k so unless you have some inside knowledge, keep your opinions to yourself.

What gibberish is this? I haven't said it was VDN, and I've been questioning the $10k number since the start.

Are you even reading my posts? Are you confusing my posts with someone else's?

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

"When the Olympics are over, I think a tragic event will occur," Takayama said at a Vietnamese New Year celebration at a Catholic church outside Tokyo. "I don't want to see that."

Ominous statement which I believe to be true. They are dressing up Japan only for the world party ( Olympics) .

2 ( +2 / -0 )

JC handled this nicely.

But never explained how one is supposed to just know this information.

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

But never explained how one is supposed to just know this information.

You can't be serious.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

No true anymore. If someone is eager to take USD, it is only because they are going to rake you over with the exchange rate

I was there 2-3 years ago, most of my contracts (rent, driver, salary) was in $USD. But yes your assertion is 50% true, the locals almost always try to get the better of the exchange rate (in either direction) because they can access black market rates better than foreigners), and they will suggest $VND or $USD when ever it suits them better. I always pay in $USD knowing that sometime I'm ripped off.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Oh, modern Slavery and Japan... What else is new?? This practice is since the ‘80, and sadely nothing changed. It even got worst over the years.

I wouldn't say it's only Japan, it's everywhere, if you think it's bad go to Singapore and see life as a domestic worker there. The Singaporeans aren't even pretending, they just treat workers as 2nd class.

For what the Japanese government 'said' is the objective of the program, ie transfer technical skills to developing countries, there has already been good example on how it should be done, eg The Colombo Plan formalised by the Commonwealth countries but joined by others including Japan.

The Colombo Plan was organised through governments and NGOs, served its purpose well until it was reformed (LOL) in the nineties and now no longer transfer people/skills, with the rationale being that globalisation has reduced the necessity to do so (LOL, again).

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

It's hard for anyone to live and work in a foreign country, where culture and language are different. Yet, many have survived and even thrived. I am grateful that they have chosen Japan. Hope their choice lead to a success and happiness.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

A "technical trainee"?????? That's a euphemism if ever I heard one.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Jeff

Vietnam is not a poor country. It's a middle-of-the-pack country.

https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/hdi-vs-gdp-per-capita

1 ( +1 / -0 )

people have to pay alot of money to be slaves in other countries. thats rediculous.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Bloodsucking recruiters! I'm sure the companies also pay an "introduction" fee as well. At least the new laws will discourage such things, I just hope that the "agents" are vetted and audited!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Because trainees are not permitted to switch employers, leaving their jobs usually means losing legal visa status. A few go to shelters run by non-profit groups or get help from unionists; many disappear into a labor black market.

"The situation is completely different from what they were told back home," said Shigeru Yamashita, managing director of the Vietnam Mutual Aid Association in Japan. "They have debts they cannot repay with their salaries at home, so the only option is to flee into the black market for labor."

These two paragraphs sum up this farce very well. First they are falsely informed about the jobs they apply for (entrapment) and then they are committed (enslaved) to a single company with no chance of changing jobs and no avenues to complain about mistreatment (forced labor).

1 ( +1 / -0 )

We're on an international website, read by people from multiple countries, of multiple cultures, and speaking multiple languages. World news by default is a low-context environment - assumptions lead to failures in reporting. Very little information can be considered to be common, which is why you see articles repeating details one may already consider to be known facts.

When it comes to the dollar, sometimes there is context to know which dollar is being referred to. For example, if you are talking dollars an an article about Singapore, the context indicates that it's Singapore dollars.

However, in an article about Vietnam and Japan, neither of which uses the dollar, that context does not exist. Now, if it's a standard - for example it's known worldwide that if the country is not stated, then dollars refers to USD, then it will be stated somewhere, due to the aforementioned low context environment inherent in world news. If it's not stated anywhere, then it would be poor reporting, as one must be particularly careful in making assumptions common knowledge in a multi-cultural, multi-national environment.

So does this article refer to USD$10,000? It doesn't say that in the article, and no one has shown me something that states it directly, which says to me that it's not common knowledge, and we cannot assume that it's USD, and therefore it's poor reporting.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

More people working and consuming and contributing to sales tax is not a bad thing for Japan.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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