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Indonesian man sues after being sent home for lack of Japanese skills

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Wow i'll keep my head down cos my " Japanese skills" suck. ;o)

24 ( +26 / -2 )

The article doesn't state what his Japanese level actually is, nor does it state what level of Japanese is required for his contract. It also doesn't state what timeframe he was given to achieve the required level, which makes it difficult to see where the fault lays in this case. However, there are tens of thousands of foreigners working in Japan with very little (or no) Japanese language skills. The only difference is, most of these foreigners are not part of the trainee program. The only thing this case shows is a lack of empathy and flexibility in the structure of this trainee program. I'm quite sure that, in this case, his actual position would be nothing more than a 'deck swab', which would not require a very high level of Japanese language proficiency.

15 ( +16 / -1 )

a fishy story

14 ( +15 / -1 )

I wonder what the contract said. Did it specifically require a measurable level of Japanese proficiency? Without the wording of the contract document all speculation is really just that...speculation.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

Apparently ‘human rights’ lawyers are behind this Indonesian man, who might have had problems other than his Japanese language skills.

8 ( +16 / -8 )

Good for him. Stop treating people like slaves or objects.

7 ( +20 / -13 )

Am I the only one wondering his "lack of japanese skills" wasn't the reason he was sent home? Any foreigner with even a bit of pride might experience a cultural shock while working for a 100% japanese company, i.e. to bow and gladly be treated like **** by your "superiors". He fought back and the japanese didn't like it.

7 ( +15 / -8 )

Am I the only one wondering his "lack of japanese skills" wasn't the reason he was sent home?

I have a friend in the Philippines that started working with a Japanese fishing company and doesn't speak a word of Japanese. They don't have a language course for him either.

7 ( +10 / -3 )

The article doesn't state what his Japanese level actually is, nor does it state what level of Japanese is required for his contract. It also doesn't state what timeframe he was given to achieve the required level, which makes it difficult to see where the fault lays in this case. However, there are tens of thousands of foreigners working in Japan with very little (or no) Japanese language skills. The only difference is, most of these foreigners are not part of the trainee program. The only thing this case shows is a lack of empathy and flexibility in the structure of this trainee program. I'm quite sure that, in this case, his actual position would be nothing more than a 'deck swab', which would not require a very high level of Japanese language proficiency.

Well said. We don't know the details of this story. He had to quit before he even could start work means he wasn't learning Japanese fast enough maybe? These trainee programs to bring in foreigners need more and better supervision.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

They didn't know this when they hired him? Sounds like pure racism to me

5 ( +20 / -15 )

As we all know Japans "impartial" justice system will throw this out. I am constantly told my language skills are Sugoi. Well I have absolutely no idea what people are basing that on as I barely understand what the hell they are talking about. Seems a tad unfair to deport him as perhaps with some mentoring he might have got the jist of the employers babble.

5 ( +12 / -7 )

he feels he was cheated by the cooperative and stressed that he still wants to work in Japan.

Well, suing a company because not being able to meet the minimal Japanese expectations won't get him much chances of doing so.

Think for a minute all the cost the cooperative has incurred to train this guy for 3 months, for nothing.

He wouldn't be rejected unless his Japanese is truly horrible.

Feel sorry for Japan having to suffer from opportunist like this guy.

4 ( +9 / -5 )

Dis, that's just it though. Japan really, and truly does seem to think that English is useless but look at their economy and business. How are Japanese companies doing globally besides a few? Not well. Why? Because Japan really doesn't get that they aren't all that important and refuse to change with the times. Start using English, start realizing that foreigners have great ideas and rather than try and squish them if they work in a J company, work with them. Yeah, yeah, we all know that is common sense and it won't happen. Pride truly kills anything in this country when things aren't working out.

4 ( +11 / -7 )

There are not enough facts in the article to make a judgment either way.

However, breach of contract by either party is an issue that will need to be settled by the court.

I strongly doubt the contract was worded specifically enough to allow the company to fire him, have his visa status revoked and ultimately result in his deportation, simply due to a "lack of Japanese skill". More to the point, I find it very difficult to believe that people who are not experts on language learning would have the foresight to include specific Japanese Language Proficiency Test scores within the contract itself. The JLPT test is important in this case because it is one of only two tests accepted by the Japanese government as verification of a person's Japanese ability, the other test being meant for overseas students and not applicable outside of educational institutions.

The JLPT tests occur only twice a year and moving to higher level requires a minimum of 6 months. If his visa was revoked before this period had elapsed I find it hard to believe an impartial court will not side with him.

To complicate matters, fishermen certainly do not speak Japanese in the way that someone who holds a JLPT 5 certificate is going to understand. Aside from colloquialisms, there is also the dialect issue - being the company was in Hiroshima, there is a fair chance even someone holding a JLPT 3 certificate would not understand a good portion of what was being said by the average fisherman from Hiroshima or anywhere else near Kansai. JLPT study material and the test itself only cover hyoujungo, standard Tokyo Japanese as is used in NHK broadcasts.

Perhaps the government should think harder about exploiting cheap, unskilled labor before approving visas en masse. Once a precedent is set with this case, I think we're going to see a lot more cases like it in the near future by angry exploited workers unless both companies and the government learn to be more responsible for ensuring that the workers they're hiring are actually suitable for the job before signing contracts.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

The JSA (Japanese Shipowners’ Association) and IMMAJ (International Mariners Management Association of Japan) executives said Filipino seafarers comprise 72.54% or 35,380 seafarers of the total number of foreign and Japanese seafarers working aboard Japanese flag and Japanese owned or operated merchant ships flying a foreign flag, all Filipino seamen are members of the Associated Marine Officer’s and Seamen’s Union of the Philippines (AMOSUP).

They further informed the Embassy officials that Filipino seafarers with Japanese license or certificates comprise about 70% or 4,477 seamen of the total number of foreign seafarers working aboard Japanese flag merchant ships.

https://tokyo.philembassy.net/02events/japan-shipowners-and-mariners-management-associations-express-confidence-on-skills-of-filipino-seafarers-working-aboard-japanese-flag-and-ownedoperated-merchant-ships/

The seamen are not required to speak Japanese. English remains the accepted international language and all Japanese captains must speak it, as airliner pilots too.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

The seamen are not required to speak Japanese. English remains the accepted international language and all Japanese captains must speak it, as airliner pilots too.

Exactly! Lingua Franca!

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Dude has a three year contract, he should be given the wages he was due!

3 ( +21 / -18 )

I’ll start documenting the number of times that I’m told my language skills are上手

Just to be on the safe side....

3 ( +4 / -1 )

@Alex Einz

and tmarie... english is NOT main spoken language here, welcome to Asia, main language here is Chinese, so get on it and you better speak it asap...

and, if you want to work in some country, better learn the language locals speak.

Yeah, but Chinese has yet to become a lingua franca despite China trying its best to be one. Like Tmarie said, not being proficient in English has hurt Japan more than help them economically.

And most of the Chinese tourist in Japan that I actually see try to communicate to Japanese service providers (alot!) without an app or translator do so in English because the Chinese realize how important English is on the world stage.

I see it all the time!

3 ( +6 / -3 )

@Alex

And I dont see it at all, most companies that feel that Asian consumers are important to them try their best to speak the relevant language which is mostly Chinese .. try going to Ginza on a weekend.

Then you should spend less time window shopping in Ginza, and more time at the train station gate, conbini store, McDonald's, and Sukiya. Not all Chinese tourists are "Balling out of Control" and throwing around cash.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

@Magnus

Tmarie seems to think people have a fair chance at getting any kind of job in any country by knowing English.

Tmarie didn't say that someone can't get any job because they speak English. That is strawman argument!

English is more usefully globally than Chinese and especially Japanese.

No German company of hundreds of..........

Those German colleagues will switch to English when they address that American intern when they know the intern can't understand everything.

Also Chinese tourists in Japan often can speak Chinese since many relevant stores are now staffed by Chinese. I rarely hear English used.

What is a relevant store? That sounds quite specific. Which means it isn't common or in abundance. Japan is more than just relevant stores. Once again, I have seen both Chinese tourists and the train station staff, bus drivers, family restaurants, ramen shops, Kaiten sushi, and etc...switch to English when they can't understand each other which once again shows the relevance of English.

My anecdote:

When my French, Italian, and German colleagues all converse together in Japan, they do it in English. When my Japanese doctor friend went to Paris, he couldn't speak a lick of French. He was actually hesitant about his vacation because of what he heard from others. The French people that he met went out of their way to speak English to him. Why? Because the average French person are less likely to speak Japanese, Chinese, or read Kanji than speak broken English. That same friend just returned from a Medical conference in Europe that was held in English which is the same language he must use when sharing research with his foreign colleagues.

How many times have you seen the same situations in my anecdotes done in Chinese and Japanese? The only thing being different is the language.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

We shouldn’t expect fisher people to speak the foreigner’s language.

I checked Japanese news sources.

The genre of work is fishing.

The details are work in the aquaculture business.

It is not a job to simply fish.

The aquaculture business determines the condition of seafood and carries out breeding work.

If the instructions or reports can not be made correctly, the breeding work will fail.

Naturally, Japanese communication is of the utmost importance.

Perhaps he could not give instructions or report.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

They never said when he was released/forced to return home. That will play a large part in the case.

Someone can’t be released without taking reasonable steps to correct their actions first. So the company will have to prove they took reasonable steps to improve his Japanese.

They were pleased enough with his Japanese ability to offer him a 3 year deal.

The events in this case took place before the new laws and programs were in place.
2 ( +4 / -2 )

I'd like to go to a foreign country, get paid to study the language, flunk my exams and sue them for my failures as well :D

2 ( +10 / -8 )

The whole thing is fishy and devoid of important details that could help one understand. I strongly doubt language is the reason and since it has gone to court details will be revealed expecially from the victim.

Hope there is a follow up to this case.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Japanese language accounts of this are somewhat different. For example, the Japanese language Kyodo wire service story says

。組合から「日本語の習熟が不十分」として母国で勉強し直すよう強く求められ、技能実習開始前の同月1日に帰国させられた。

https://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20190523-00000079-kyodonews-soci

The English version looks like someone ran the article through Google translate and then tried to make the result into a readable text without checking the Google translation against the original Japanese.

The Japanese says "he was strongly urged to redo his [Japanese language] studies in his home country because 'his Japanese language skills were insufficient' according to the fishing cooperative.

Because the Japanese language article is very terse, speculation is dangerous but (1) it looks like he had previously studied Japanese in Indonesia and (2) when he showed up for training at the cooperative he did not have the Japanese skills he had claimed. (I stress that this is speculation).

In any event, the Japanese language article is poorly written, and the English article is worse. Finding original Japanese articles is easy enough. Just search on 広島 組合 インドネシア人.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

So is their actually a job in Japan that doesn't require having a level of Japanese that's native level? If this is so a hell of a lot of people are going to be deported.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Dude has a three year contract, he should be given the wages he was due!

> Absolutely. A contract is a contract.

Funny thing about contracts, especially one's involving labor. They often (and by often, I mean ALWAYS) stipulate what BOTH parties are required to bring to the table.

And there is ZERO discussion in this article about what items HE was required to bring to the table. For instance... he may have been required to have a certain starting level of proficiency that he simply didn't have.

Discussion of contracts always get to me because most people argue for/against them as if they are one-way vehicles in support of whichever side is make any specific point.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

or as English teacher ( no skills required) ...

Any English teacher that works for a University will be more Educated and skilled than you in their field (Masters or PhD).

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Also Chinese tourists in Japan often can speak Chinese since many relevant stores are now staffed by Chinese. I rarely hear English used.

By the way, it shows that the majority of Chinese tourists are not trying to speak Japanese and not a lot of Japanese people can speak Mandarin or Cantonese. So, when there is a communication breakdown they both revert to English as a bridge (Lingua Franca).

Your reasoning doesn't refute anything that Tmarie or I have said.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

@Magnus

Correction:

Also Chinese tourists in Japan often can speak Chinese since many relevant stores are now staffed by Chinese. I rarely hear English used.

By the way, it shows that the majority of Chinese tourists are not trying to speak Japanese and not a lot of Japanese people can speak Mandarin or Cantonese. So, when there is a communication breakdown they both revert to English as a bridge (Lingua Franca).

Your reasoning doesn't refute anything that Tmarie or I have said.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Probably got rid of him because the other workers didnt like having a foreigner making the same pay as they were making.

1 ( +22 / -21 )

@tmarie - Japan needs to seriously deal with the fact that their language really isn't a priority in the world. They want foreign workers to come here and work. How about they find a language that most people CAN see a benefit to using - like English. 

This is actually a very logical statement considering the japanese government spends $3 billion dollars per year on English education and most japanese study English for ten years from junior high through to university. However, the reality is, despite the many years of extensive English study less than 10% of japanese people have a TOEIC score above 650 and only 12% of Japanese have a conversational proficiency in any foreign language. Seems pretty pointless to waste so much time and money learning English, doesn't it?

1 ( +9 / -8 )

No indication of contract demands and rules about breach of contract, no opinion I have.

Easy to solve by just reading a piece of paper.

I doubt the Indonesian man will win his case.

As a foreigner, you are under the pressure of visa removal but I don t see how he could have been "forced" to go back to his home country within so short time.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Alex, like it or not, English is the EFL of the world. Japanese is used in... Japan. Chinese is used in China and other countries/areas with large pockets of Chinese but nah, it is NOT a dominate language. Why be stubborn about it? Nearly every non-English speaking country is trying to improve their English levels. Including Japan.

And yes, the Chinese tourists I see use... English.

And using JLPT as an indictor is useless because there is no spoken component of the test. Chinese and Koreans do very well on the test itself and many struggle to continue a conversation. I've had Korean and and Chinese friends talk about how useless the test is for them for their daily lives - but it was certainly good to get that student visa.

Japan can remain stubborn on this issue if it wants. Hurts themselves in the end.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

One other point, the company knew when they CONTRACTED him his language ability and yet they still contracted with him.

The dude was working for them for a little over a year, and they CONTRACTED with him for three years, then suddenly fired him because of his lack of Japanese language skills/ability?

Because the Japanese language article is very terse, speculation is dangerous but (1) it looks like he had previously studied Japanese in Indonesia and (2) when he showed up for training at the cooperative he did not have the Japanese skills he had claimed. (I stress that this is speculation).

Then explain why they contracted him in the first place? They contracted him fully understanding his ability level, and it took them a number of months AFTER contracting with him to fire him?

The company should never have contracted with him, plain and simple!

1 ( +3 / -2 )

tmarie

you make very good points, however pride and the isolationist mentality and a superiority complex always get in the way of common sense here in Japan. Not so for many other Asian nations like Singapore and others, even China, who see the practical benefit of using English for their economic advancement and don’t let their own pride and nationalism get in their way. Doesn’t mean they are not proud of their country though.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

I doubt the Filipino crews on the Japanese merchant navy ships speak Japanese, at least the seamen but maybe the Filipino captains have some language ability.

In the UK, immigrants are required to take "Englishist" test to see how English they would be and a test I would fail.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

I'd like to go to a foreign country, get paid to study the language, flunk my exams and sue them for my failures as well :D

He wasn't getting paid to learn the language. He was getting paid to work likely extensive hours while being required to learn the language on his own time without any assistance from the company. The should have signed him up for a language course at the company's expense.

0 ( +6 / -6 )

Why don’t you speak Japanese? Your fired.

Everything is easy in the eyes of a simpleton.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

He can expect 3-4 years of frustration just to end up in the same place he is now. Move on.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

 I am constantly told my language skills are Sugoi. Well I have absolutely no idea what people are basing that on as I barely understand what the hell they are talking about.

Don t worry about it, really, and dont let it stop you from working harder to improve your skills in the language.

When you get to the point of when people stop saying "sugoi" and their eyes kind of glaze over, and give their head a little shake to clear their eyes and continue talking, you will know your Japanese is truly "sugoi"!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Jump into a taxi, say two words of Japanese and they will tell you that your Japanese is perfect.... but in all seriousness this is BS from this JP company.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Such is the world we live in, instant threat of lawsuits to cover up for your own inadequacies.

No doubt people like this Indonesian man are banking on the world media coming to his immediate support, using the "all Japanese are racist xenophobes" card.

-1 ( +11 / -12 )

Japan needs to seriously deal with the fact that their language really isn't a priority in the world. They want foreign workers to come here and work. How about they find a language that most people CAN see a benefit to using - like English. Japan honestly can't expect these foreign workers to come here, work their butts off for three to five year and become fluent in Japanese. AND THEN GET SENT HOME! There is no need to force these people to any decent standard of Japanese if Japan wakes up and starts using English to deal with foreign workers. Japanese have years of English eduction so it isn't like they are forced to learn something new (I'm laughing, as yes, I know) to accommodate these workers.

We've seen this issue numerous time - anyone remember how many non-Japanese passed the Japanese language test when that program was set up about a decade ago? I think the number was four. Japanese language really and truly is used as a way of keeping non-Japanese in check when it comes to employment.

"This is Japan" many of you will cry. Yep. It is. And it has a serious population issues, a serious shortage of staff and if it wants to lure hardworking folks here, it is going to have to meet people somewhere in the middle. Language will have to be one of those places. These people are clearly disposable to Japan so why force them to study something that really and truly will benefit them very little in the long run? Japanese is for Japan only. English would be a much better bet but that would take effort on the part of the locals who desperately need staff.

I hope this guy wins but let's be honest, practically no chance he will.

-1 ( +8 / -9 )

Those who cry ''Why doesn't Japanese learn English'' crap is the typical loser who have no idea how to fit into the local society and live in foreign country.

Those who cry "We the Japanese..........." are the same loser nationalists and Japan otakus that complain because Japan is usually the academic and physical loser when compare to other countries globally. So, the solution is to bury their heads in sand and scream "You are attacking my culture" to cover up their inadequacies.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Those who cry ''Why doesn't Japanese learn English'' crap is the typical loser who have no idea how to fit into the local society and live in foreign country.

Maybe.

It still doesn’t mean Japan wouldn’t benefit from better English skills.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

For me, he has an excellent case because they should have assessed his Japanese level before giving him a contract. Interviews and resumes and other tests done before even arriving in Japan. Assessing both parties before contracting is standard everywhere. People saying he didn't live up to contract- he hadn't even started to fulfil the contract- he wasn't allowed to fulfil Japanese learning requirements. There is a lot of money in this contract.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Probably got rid of him because the other workers didnt like having a foreigner making the same pay as they were making.

Exactly! That's what I'm thinking

They didn't know this when they hired him? Sounds like pure racism to me

Because that's exactly what it is.

Dude has a three year contract, he should be given the wages he was due!

Absolutely. A contract is a contract.

As we all know Japans "impartial" justice system will throw this out. I am constantly told my language skills are Sugoi. Well I have absolutely no idea what people are basing that on as I barely understand what the hell they are talking about. Seems a tad unfair to deport him as perhaps with some mentoring he might have got the jist of the employers babble.

Just a tad?

-2 ( +12 / -14 )

another frivolous lawsuit... the guy is incapable of learning basic Japanese , contract annulled before start due to lack of skill necessary and he has no legal leg to stand on, yet the lawsuit...

me thinks there is a lawyer preying on these cases ( same concept as the "refugee" from iraq not long ago)

-2 ( +7 / -9 )

Those who cry ''Why doesn't Japanese learn English'' crap is the typical loser who have no idea how to fit into the local society and live in foreign country.

To me it seems like they are just moaning for not being ''welcomed'' as their privilege doesn't work so ''effectively'' but still begging local Japanese to give them ''linguistical favour''

No wonder those loser end up working as a bloody eikaiwa sensei as a casual staff and live in a small gaijin bubble 24/7 n surely they can't get decent job and make local friends no matter how long they live here in Japan.

Even they move another another '' better''country, it must be same outcome.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

or as English teacher ( no skills required) ...

Irrational dislike of English teachers, again.

I do admire this much maligned profession. Such dedication despite the wages.

Rather be trying to educate than scratch the vinyl to no acclaim.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Amrullah signed a three-year work contract with Maruko in February, but the cooperative forced him to return home due to "insufficient Japanese proficiency" before he could start.

It appears that Amrullah's failure to learn the language ended his career before it started. There would have been the expectation by both parties that he would learn a sufficient amount of Japanese in order to be of use to the company.

Amrullah is now suing the company because of Amrullah's failure to learn the required language. I'm surprised that he isn't demanding that the company now be required to learn to learn Amrullah's native language, or hire an interpreter to follow Amrullah through about the business day.

-3 ( +14 / -17 )

Tmarie seems to think people have a fair chance at getting any kind of job in any country by knowing English. I think you need to open your eyes, lingua franca is only relevant in the UN and in certain tiger states that down prioritized their own languages. Try working in France or Italy without knowing their respective languages, same is true for every western country in the world. No German company of hundreds of people is going to switch to speaking english to one another to appease their American intern.

Also Chinese tourists in Japan often can speak Chinese since many relevant stores are now staffed by Chinese. I rarely hear English used.

Btw Rakuten changed their official business language to English a few years ago; have a guess at what language their morning meetings in Setagaya is in though :D

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

We shouldn’t expect fisher people to speak the foreigner’s language. And yet it is highly probable that there were people who sincerely tried to help him in English, to get him up to speed while he continued to study. Hopefully he actually was studying and immersing himself in the local culture, not hanging with a crowd from his own country and speaking that language all the time. Coming to a country and expecting to work there does require a certain level of proficiency in the language. And if after a period of time he could not reach the level required to be functional in the trade, well, hard decisions sometimes have to be made.

Let’s not jump to “Japanese are racist” conclusions, people. For that in itself is a form of discrimination.

-4 ( +10 / -14 )

I have a friend in the Philippines that started working with a Japanese fishing company and doesn't speak a word of Japanese. They don't have a language course for him either.

Indeed! The fishery industry might be the last industry someone might need language skills.

Plus we know very well how the japanese view/treat Southeast asians....

He was bullied and couldn't endure his treatment and was sent home because he was obliged to stay at the same company. Or didn't have the proper legal advise.

-4 ( +4 / -8 )

And I dont see it at all, most companies that feel that Asian consumers are important to them try their best to speak the relevant language which is mostly Chinese .. try going to Ginza on a weekend.

And that seamen example has nothing to do with the article here.. absolutely irrelevant.

On and regarding "must speak" airline pilots and and captains can mumble few words at best unless actually educated in English speaking countries.... and dont get me started on FAs ...

Anyways, fact of the matter, in Japan you better speak Japanese if want to work for Japanese company.. or just work at Foreign ( western ) firm .. or as English teacher ( no skills required) ...

-4 ( +4 / -8 )

Aly Rustom - Exactly! That's what I'm thinking

Because that's exactly what it is.

Absolutely. A contract is a contract.

A contract that included his learning the Japanese language. Amrullah failed to live up to his part of the contract. A contract is a contract.

-5 ( +9 / -14 )

and tmarie... english is NOT main spoken language here, welcome to Asia, main language here is Chinese, so get on it and you better speak it asap...

and, if you want to work in some country, better learn the language locals speak.

-5 ( +8 / -13 )

@yubaru.... it's not dude... he got a name it's "Ricky Amrullah"

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

I hope he gets to work in Japan again.

-6 ( +6 / -12 )

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