national

Japan moves to accept more foreign workers, but hurdles remain

48 Comments

The requested article has expired, and is no longer available. Any related articles, and user comments are shown below.

© KYODO

©2018 GPlusMedia Inc.

48 Comments
Login to comment

 I say, Japan should continue its path that it is on and instead of being whiny, I recommend the potential immigrant to find another country.

Corporate Japan is doing business around the globe and they often invite foreign employees to Japan who are asked to stay for a short or longer period to accomplish 'expertise transfers' to domestic workers and organisation.

On a 'lower' level hired foreign workers [ invited, as they don't wash on the shores by themselves] should be treated according international labor standards to be obeyed by a developed nation like Japan.

With the current demand for foreign workers rising, international pressure from labor organisations could be helpful as for example unions within Japan seem to be incapable to accomplish something on this field.

 I can completely understand why Japan has an anti-immigrant stance, they don't want an outside culture to come in and change theirs. 

Japanese culture is alive and kicking but influenced by the Americans since Admiral Perry in 1863 and other cultures in the past.

Seen so many movies from the golden years of Japanese filmmaking [late 40s, 50s and early 60s] with the family structure still playing an important role.

Nevertheless you see in some if those post war movies that the [grand] parents become a burden with the children being so busy with their modern jobs and new businesses. And with today thousands of elderly dying alone at home and the existence of an industry specialised in cleaning the apartments of their remains when they are found week or months later one can't deny that something has changed.

Its a fallacy to think that being multi-cultural is better, everyone has there own culture and if they want to be in another country they must accept that country's culture and forgo their previous one. 

With more than 2 million foreigners among the 127 million inhabitants you can't speak of a multicultural society as we know in the West.

The poster of the ridiculous recommendation on top has probably some immigrant issues in his/her home country and should deal with that at home.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

browny, no worries

1 ( +1 / -0 )

jcapan - sorry - you are correct and I should have read in less haste(going out the door to work) as I know we are on the same page re this.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

browny1, read what I wrote more carefully. That's the opposite of what I was saying.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

jcjapan said...

"...What about Michael Woodford at Olympus--was he not challenging business culture. Should he have shown more loyalty or known his place as a guest?..."

Are you suggesting he should have broken the law like the other olympus leaders, who consequently were criminally charged???

That's a nonsense notion.

People spouting the idea that foreign workers would see the beginning of the end of Japan is as equally nonsensical.

The idea that the world is static and societies exist in a vacuum, is a more dangerous postulation than any imagined threat from foreigners.

Japan is dynamic and it's culture will grow, but always will be Japanese.

Xenophobes are the greatest impediment to Japan's wonder and vitality.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Yubaru: So you think that there is no problem with forcing people to work? So what if the Mom's hang out, sound like someone is jealous.

No. Not jealous. Just believe that instead of discriminating against foreigners, and wanting to keep your country one culture/nationality, do something about it. I hear these same moms, besides complaining about their husbands and kids, talking among each other about how much they hate this nationality, that nationality, how they dislike their foreign neighbor, how they are afraid that their neighborhood is no long safe and so on.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

robroy, I agree with you.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Robroy, agreed.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Da'anzho Cochise.

Diversity came - unlucky for the Apache.

Japan, like Arizona & New Mexico, was opened up in the mid-to-late 19th century at the point of US guns.

I don't blame the Japanese for being wary of a large influx of foreigners. Look what happened to the native Americans after the Europeans 'discovered' their lands.

There's about a billion Chinese next door that might come knocking once the advanced guard has prepared the ground.

By the way, upstream, it's a troop of monkeys (and a bunch of bananas).

Also, if foreigners live in Japan and own businesses there but have "no intention of changing Japan" then they are deluding themselves.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

DIversity is coming - Lucky Japan!

Do you live here in Japan? If so, why is your brand of diversity better than the rest of us?

Do you work harder than us?

Do you integrate and downplay your culture?

0 ( +3 / -3 )

DIversity is coming - Lucky Japan!

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

If you want "them" treat "them" the way you want to be treated.

A noble idea but as Reckless points out above, it's doubtful the Japanese are going to go to any great lengths to afford temporary foreign workers treatment that seems out of reach in their own workplaces. As he said of his boss, how often have we come across men or wives/children separated from one another for years on end. How many times have we heard stories of friends or family members living Abe's dream of not more than 100 hrs. of OT/month. In such a beleaguered labor environment, it's hard to see this working out well. Even in a nation that is more heterogeneous and open to foreigners. Look to the US, where the situation of workers has stagnated for decades--is it any wonder they're hostile to immigrants. They might be scapegoats but you can't expect much sympathy from poorly treated wageslaves.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

I personally don't like some Japanese sides of culture but I want Japan not to become a melting pot it is not.

We're all human, all brothers and sisters. Nationalism gets in the way of that commonality.

There's room for us. Room for different faces, different attitudes. We're not here to destroy your country or your culture.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

If you want "them" treat "them" the way you want to be treated.

With those so-called plans "they" will not even be second class citizens.

Humans are not a merchandise (although sometimes I do have my doubts)!

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Wen I said NON-Japanese, I was refering to person who do not fit into the Japanese standards (no open critical thinking, no open complaint, always smile, clean, respectful, not talkative for men and also nationalist 100% of the time).

And if you know Japan, you also know that if you want to be recognized as Japanese, you need the gaman attitude, and express every time a challenging question is raised with a shikata ga nai answer.

All of which not found in given comments on that site, outside for sure Mr "Gambare Japan". No way third-world countries immigrants if not even first world countries outside a few exceptions will embrace this system. Hence my opinion.

I personally don't like some Japanese sides of culture but I want Japan not to become a melting pot it is not.

To force a country to change because of economy is wrong.

Change because of human improvement need would be the enlighted path (work conditions, gender respect, psychological help...). No need for millions of foreigners to aim at that direction.

Expressing a view against current Japanese culture is a right but is seen as a demand for Japanese so not acceptable.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

If one feels that Japan does bad by treating foreigners the way they do then why come to Japan? I can completely understand why Japan has an anti-immigrant stance, they don't want an outside culture to come in and change theirs. Its a fallacy to think that being multi-cultural is better, everyone has there own culture and if they want to be in another country they must accept that country's culture and forgo their previous one. I say, Japan should continue its path that it is on and instead of being whiny, I recommend the potential immigrant to find another country.

Some of us live here because there's a lot to love about this country. And that love can manifest itself in being concerned over the negative aspects, such as the way some of us are treated.

Coming here - nobody has to jettison their culture. Nor do they have to accept every single aspect of their host country.

I say, Japan need not worry about us. We're here to live, love and work in your country. But like any country, if there's unfairness at work or in the system - we have a right to express our views on it.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

SmithinJapan - too right plenty of things can be changed but they won't

The amusing thing about it all is Japan is in long term decline anyone with any common sense can see that except the Japanese.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

"It's unacceptable from a humanitarian perspective (for foreign workers) to live far from their family members for five years," Ibusuki said.

My Japanese boss relocated to Tokyo about 9 years ago and lives in a company apartment apart from his wife and 2 kids. He seems very lonely. For Japanese, living separate from the father seems acceptable.

Also, another recent article on JToday says 1/3 of Japanese households are a paycheck away from bankruptcy. I doubt most Japanese are worried about the working conditions of foreigners in Japan.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

I have been here 2 decades and own a business here. I have no intention of changing Japan. No one is saying Japan should change their culture.

There will be a price to pay if Japan does not change the way it does business (I am not talking about changing the culture).

Is it really that black and white? I'd say it depends on why you're here, how long you're staying, whether or not you have a family and the nature of your business or work. But even from a strictly professional standpoint, foreign owned and operated businesses make decisions everyday that contrast with standard local practices (i.e. culture). Granting women equal pay (Starbucks), promoting them into management (Eli Lilly), offering more generous benefits or--gasp--the ability to take the leave employees are legally entitled to. What about Michael Woodford at Olympus--was he not challenging business culture. Should he have shown more loyalty or known his place as a guest?

That seems wrongheaded to me. Could the criticism be expressed in more constructive way at times, of course, especially by many of us, myself included, who have it relatively good. But you don't welcome people into your country, for whatever period of time, ask them to pay taxes, and then expect them to be mute. All shareholders in a community should be able to make their voices heard, to contribute to what is continuously evolving--"Japanese" culture.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

It's common sense for Japan to let more of us in. We can help in the labor shortage. Just please don't treat us as expendable. Or chattel.

Or as enemies and criminals.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Simple, go to the shopping malls where all the stay at home moms hang out with each other while their kids are in school all day and get them to make their contributions. Get them work day jobs.

So you think that there is no problem with forcing people to work? So what if the Mom's hang out, sound like someone is jealous.

If Japanese are replacedby non-Japanese, will Japan remain Japan ? Everyone knows the answer...

So you are saying that for Japan to remain Japan, only Japanese can remain here?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Paying peanuts will only get you a bunch of monkeys.

5 ( +8 / -3 )

By the way for those down voting my post I challenge you to refute or argue against the points made by Mikutani-san of Rakuten.

-9 ( +3 / -12 )

@Psyops - You said, "I can completely understand why Japan has an anti-immigrant stance, they don't want an outside culture to come in and change theirs."

I have been here 2 decades and own a business here. I have no intention of changing Japan. No one is saying Japan should change their culture.

There will be a price to pay if Japan does not change the way it does business (I am not talking about changing the culture).

8 ( +11 / -3 )

The hurdles remain because they allow them to, plain and simple. It's like everyone knows they need to and most know they should do Something, and they can agree on that, but then when it comes to implementation they all just look around like deer in headlights and then shrug. I'll never forget the episode of Seinfeld where he walks into the Bodega and asks the owner to take down the bounced cheque and he says, "Sorry, against store policy." Seinfeld replies, "But it's YOUR bodega!" and he says, "even I am not above store policy". That was a comedy show, but it's real life here. I argued with a former gym owner when my wife was refused membership because of her tattoo, and he said, "We all understand fashion tattoos, but it is against policy." I said, but you know me, and you know her, and we are not yakuza. YOU are the owner... you make the policy!" The guy just shrugged and said, "There's Nothing I can do. Shikataganai". So, I pulled my membership as well, to which he panicked (since I was saying it in the lobby), asking why and seeming to suddenly genuinely think about whether or not he 'could' let in my wife, but wouldn't say anything, so I insisted.

The only hurdles are made in Japan. They can change them, just like they can change the dates of the Olympics, but they knowingly just keep Walking on, pretending Nothing can be done.

9 ( +11 / -2 )

If Japanese are replacedby non-Japanese, will Japan remain Japan ? Everyone knows the answer...

That's not even a well-defined question, let alone one to which 'everyone knows the answer'!

10 ( +11 / -1 )

Why is the picture of those workers cut off at the waist? Not showing their faces makes them seem less like human beings with identities and more like automatons.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

PerformingMonkeyToday  09:36 am JST

@Disillusioned

I rented an apartment, nineteen years ago, by myself, and with no guarantor (had to pay 30,000 yen, though) and had no problems whatsoever.

Good for you. Unfortunately, your lucky experience doesn't erase the discrimination so many foreign apartment-hunters in Japan face.

Jonathan PrinToday  10:18 am JST

If Japanese are replacedby non-Japanese, will Japan remain Japan ? 

Foreign people being allowed to live and work in Japan with dignity, sustainability, and prosperity doesn't magically make Japanese people cease to exist. At least, assuming Japanese culture is built on something other than holding foreign residents down. I happen to think Japanese culture is far deeper than that. Why don't you?

13 ( +15 / -2 )

If Japanese are replacedby non-Japanese, will Japan remain Japan ? Everyone knows the answer...

-11 ( +4 / -15 )

If one feels that Japan does bad by treating foreigners the way they do then why come to Japan? I can completely understand why Japan has an anti-immigrant stance, they don't want an outside culture to come in and change theirs. Its a fallacy to think that being multi-cultural is better, everyone has there own culture and if they want to be in another country they must accept that country's culture and forgo their previous one.  I say, Japan should continue its path that it is on and instead of being whiny, I recommend the potential immigrant to find another country.

-9 ( +4 / -13 )

It’s not that it is outright and deliberate racism that causes some of the issues stated above on the part of the Japanese ( renting apartments etc ) , but more to do with a collectivist society that simply struggles to relate to people from other cultures on anything more than a superficial level. A group based culture this strong by its nature has trouble even imagining different ways of thinking and doing things, unless they are the lucky ones who are worldly and travelled.

How often do you have a conversation that turns into a “we Japanese” style narrative? I’m more interested in what “you” actually think but rarely get there, especially in the workplace. They spend their whole childhood being slowly molded and indoctrinated into this mindset , where knowing your place in the group is the primary goal and focus in pretty much everything. Tyrannical hierarchies are common. Black companies that abuse their OWN people, never mind the poor Vietnamese fella that they get sent by unscrupulous agencies. In comes Mr. Foreigner all smiles and completely unaware of these tense group dynamics. Conflict is inevitable. The ideas that robots were the answer to the demographic crisis a few years was a good insight into how keen the politicians really were to more immigration. I think dealing with someone not programmed into the Japanese mindset is just mendokusai at the end of the day. That simple. It will change though, just slowly.

13 ( +15 / -2 )

@Disillusioned

I rented an apartment, nineteen years ago, by myself, and with no guarantor (had to pay 30,000 yen, though) and had no problems whatsoever. They even gave me a nice cup of tea while we discussed things.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

The government aims to realize a society in which both Japanese and non-Japanese people can coexist and plans to draw up measures to help foreign nationals learn Japanese and find housing.

This is the main hurdle. Getting a monocultural society to accept foreigners living within their society. I'm sure all foreigners on this site know the difficulties and prejudices of renting an apartment. It is nearly impossible to rent a nice place if you are not partnered to a Japanese person. I applied to rent an apartment by myself five years ago. I was with a Japanese friend and the estate agency 'assumed' she would be living living in the apartment too. They showed us around 20 apartments in the area and price range I was seeking. However, when I said I was renting alone they said, "Chotto matte!" and ran off. They came back ten minutes later and the 20 apartments they showed me had turned into a choice of two crappy and old dog-box apartments, both of which were far from the station. Of course I asked them why and they told me, "These are the only places the owners will let foreigners rent." There was no reason for them to deny me the apartments. I had the money for all their BS key money and other mystery charges, a good job and the visa status to support long-term rental. They claimed it is because of a communication barrier, but I have a level 2 JLPT and have no difficulties communicating in Japanese. It is just blatant racial prejudice.

Then, let's look at salaries for foreign workers. Foreigners are paid much lower than Japanese for doing the same job. Again, it's racial prejudice. I know a young Filipino guy who is studying in Japan. He has been delivering newspapers as way to make ends meet, but after talking to him about his job he is being treated as a slave. He is given more runs to do than the Japanese deliverers and is constantly threatened with being fired if he doesn't get all the newspapers delivered.

Foreign workers on short-term visas should be exempt from paying the Japanese pension. It works out to around 3 months salary every year you pay into the pension system. The system is set up to make nearly impossible for a foreigner to retrieve these funds. You can apply for a refund only after one year of living outside Japan, but the application must be made in Japan. Then if you figure out a way to apply and wade your way through a staggering amount of paperwork and departments, you 'might' get one-third reimbursed. A person who is on a short-term visa should not be made to pay into the Japanese pension system. It's theft!

Then, there are all the unscrupulous agencies cashing in by exploiting these workers like, making them work excessive amounts of overtime, unrealistic workloads and making them work in the Fukushima clean up while the agency pockets all their benefits.

Hurdles? Yeah, the biggest hurdle is the culture based and infrastructural racial prejudice!

12 ( +18 / -6 )

why would anyone move to Japan only to be booted after 5 years?

5 years is a good learning time for these Trainees to acquire the skills and then take them back home. Perhaps farming, manufacturing or customer service. Great chance to train, work and enjoy Japan for 5 years for the lucky applicants.

-12 ( +3 / -15 )

@gogogo

Japan needs to get its head out of the sand.

Sand? You’re being kind

7 ( +10 / -3 )

That's one thing that bugs me when I'm outside of Japan (which is a lot these days) - no 24 hour combinis! Sometimes I need something at 11:30 at night, or even 1:30 am, and it just cannot be found in a lot of places.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

And I don't see the need for 24 hour convenient stores and supermarkets and other retail shops staying open till midnight.

That's the thing about 24 hour shops. They tend to stay open all day. And very handy it is, too. The night shift isn't a piece of cake, either.

Well done to the staff of my local 24 hour shop.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

Tokyo-Engr - spot on about Mikitani.

Japan Inc & Pals have no idea about the tsunami of change coming - or know and only want to save themselves. Mikitani has, with vision, achieved in 20 years what the Megalithic Hierarchies could only fantasize about.

Foreign workers WILL become the necessary norm. And they will need to be looked after as valuable citizens that contribute and not treated as mere chattel.

This is a reality of Japan's future - no 2 ways about it.

3 ( +8 / -5 )

It's common sense for Japan to let more of us in. We can help in the labor shortage. Just please don't treat us as expendable. Or chattel.

1 ( +7 / -6 )

Simple, go to the shopping malls where all the stay at home moms hang out with each other while their kids are in school all day and get them to make their contributions. Get them work day jobs. And I don't see the need for 24 hour convenient stores and supermarkets and other retail shops staying open till midnight.

-8 ( +5 / -13 )

The plan being considered would set a five-year limit on residence under the new status, a point the government uses to distinguish the step from encouraging immigration.

And there will be groups all over the place looking to make a quick yen by offering broker services to foreigners to work here as indentured servants!

There is going to be a explosion in the numbers of people who "over-stay" their visas as well.

10 ( +10 / -0 )

I like Japan. I live here, work here, have been here a long time and will continue to be here. Unfortunately, the leadership of this country consists of a bunch of arrogant old men. These men have their minds firmly stuck in the Showa era. As long as this mentality continues Japan will continue to slowly fade away into insignificance.

Japan needs people such as Rakuten's Mikitani-san to lead this charge. Hats off to Mikitani-san for having the guts to call it like it is.

https://rakuten.today/blog/opening-japans-doors-immigration.html

10 ( +16 / -6 )

Unless they are paying a massive salary why would anyone move to Japan only to be booted after 5 years? There is no upside. Japan needs to get its head out of the sand.

18 ( +22 / -4 )

I think the government and media need to try to do more, not that things are bad, but they should do more to make people understand that foreign workers are needed. Maybe take some tips from Hollywood. Maybe have NHK do a drama about a foreign nurse that struggles with the language but has a heart of gold and helps many people. Heck, these people do exist. Another drama about personnel problems and the hiring of some very useful foreigners. The Japanese need to understand that the vast majority of foreigners just want to live in peace just like them and are important to society. They should not focus on foreigners that commit crime and play it up on websites and the media. I'm not saying give them a free pass... but if the numbers are in line with Japanese society overall... why play it up and stoke fear.

13 ( +16 / -3 )

Still, one senior labor ministry official expressed concern about the practice of paying unfairly low wages to foreign workers.

"Not only would it not benefit the foreign workers themselves, but it could also take jobs away from Japanese workers," the official said.

Sounding alot like that orange muppet Trump!

5 ( +12 / -7 )

Come to Japan after jumping through all the hurdles.

Live in cheap housing that most Japanese won’t.

Be open to exploitation,abuse and a low wage while doing a job that the Japanese don’t want to do.

Then, after five years sayonara!

22 ( +24 / -2 )

Make that a period, not a colon--the two thoughts are not related.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

As long foreign workers are willing to come on these obviously poor terms, things will not improve:

At convenience store operator FamilyMart Co., for instance, non-Japanese workers account for some 5 percent of its roughly 200,000 workers.

I imagine the percentage is significantly higher in urban areas. In Kansai, it seems like every convenience store has at least one foreign worker.

11 ( +12 / -1 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites