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Japan eyes new residency status for foreigners amid labor shortages

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Technical intern Loosely translated means slave labor

25 ( +31 / -6 )

Personally, I would not offer my skills to a country which wants you out after 5 years. It's called "being used".

22 ( +27 / -5 )

Used-abused, and thrown away. Sadly however the situation in many Asian countries will make this offer VERY attractive.

10 years, and after that, tossed by the side of the road, Abe SHOULD be ashamed! But he won't, he doesnt give a crap!

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Slave labor. Yes concur with the above speakers.

Used and abused for 5 years. And I'll bet money they won't even make enough money to send home to make it worth their while.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Vietnamese trainee made to engage in decontamination work in Fukushima

You mean like this?

8 ( +12 / -4 )

Gives them 5 more years to find someone to marry and open a restaurant.

9 ( +16 / -7 )

Technical intern training program?

In agriculture = do all the back-breaking work; available world-wide at any farm. Train for what? Picking lettuce heads?

In construction = do all the back-breaking work; available world-wide at any construction site. Train for what? Shoveling?

In nursing = care for elderly that the locals don’t want to do. Meet certain requirements: i.e. Speak Japanese like a native = useful no where outside of Japan.

Excellent training program = slave labor and low pay. Perfect!

Ask for time off to marry a fellow intern? = Deportation!

20 ( +25 / -5 )

No way, would a someone want to spend ten years working as slave,no rights, unless they are from much poorer countries and would put up with anything, to send a few yen home only to then be kicked out.If you've been an intern for all those years then there must be a job.

Maybe Japan will extend this to 20 years. That way, as soon as you fall foul of the law, get too demanding, cost too much, or the economy dives, you can be deported. Or if they're very nice, you'll be given a one way ticket back home. Similar to the offer they gave the Brazilians after the economy dived in 2008. And thank you you'll get a thank you for your pension contributions, as you'll probably just miss out as you probably didn't quite get your ten years minimum for a small pension.

4 ( +8 / -4 )

If "intern" makes money and can afford housing and food for family they should definetly allow bringing in family members.

0 ( +6 / -6 )

Mmm... Sounds like more cheap labor to me. To be kidnapped and thrown away the moment they ask for time off. Way to go, Japan.

5 ( +10 / -5 )

I know of Vietnamese and Nepali students who fit in beautifully, make tons of friends quickly, speak Japanese and are hard workers....but will be barred from settling here. Idiocy.

1 ( +6 / -5 )

Let me guess, one of the requirements must be: "able to work 80 hours unpaid overtime per week without complaining".

And why only technical people? Im sure there is a lot of areas where we need people. Uhm, healthcare or agriculture for example...

0 ( +5 / -5 )

Reading the comments above, it seems like Japan just wants hired hands to do the roughneck jobs and not really give them a good reason for their hard work, sad.

@jansob1: I strongly agree with you there. The only thing that I can say to that is when their population starts to snowball downhill to critical levels or people in the government are replaced with more open-minded ones will we might see changes. Then again, I could be wrong.

3 ( +7 / -4 )

Lest we forget the key point of this announcement, this ridiculous plan is still only being "considered."

And this quote of bureaucratic gobbledygook takes the cake.

*Interns' families would not be allowed to enter the country, a provision meant to keep the creation of the new status from leading to discussions on the sensitive issue of immigration, they said.*

Indeed. FFS. X(

2 ( +7 / -5 )

They're going to make 'slave labour' one of the legal visa types!!!

6 ( +12 / -6 )

Japan’s view of foreigners hasn’t changed that much since WW2, but hey, we all still choose to live here, don’t we! I will never be treated as one of them, and that’s fine with me.

13 ( +16 / -3 )

I think living in Japan can be a wonderful experience if you don't work for a Japanese company don't get a job with mandatory overtime and get your food from a foreign country. Being a trainee sucks most companies take your passport lock you in a dormitory and expect total devotion until they are done and kick you out. slavery in legislation.

2 ( +10 / -8 )

The status will be given to those working in nursing, agriculture and construction -- sectors where labor shortages are most severely felt, the sources said.

More Vietnamese, Philippinoes, (mainland countryside) Chinese, Indonesians.

Japan has access to billions of short term laborers for jobs not yet ready for A.I.

Smart move, Japan.

They are just buying time and milking this for what its worth until the age of A.I. and automation goes mainstream and rears its head in America and other western countries and saddled with negative effects of having too many people (natives and immigrants included) without jobs.

0 ( +8 / -8 )

At one time, a leading car manufacturer offered interns 'Mechanic's Certificates' when they had completed their internship, but when they returned home and presented them to potential employers to try to get a job, they were laughed at; they were not worth the paper they were printed on.

5 ( +8 / -3 )

On the one hand, it's nice to know that the Japanese economy is so strong that we have a labor shortage. Bringing in foreigners is one solution, but the real solution is finding out why Japanese are not having babies and then doing something about that. These old geezer politicians don't have a clue about that.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Based on the recent disgusting treatment of Vietnamese workers I am very skeptical. Recall a Vietnamese trainee was sent to Fukushima to clean up radioactive material without being informed of the dangerous nature of the job. Another Vietnamese trainee was kidnapped from his morning bed and put on a plane back to Vietnam for asking for time off. Other stories float around of passports being confiscated, pay being skimmed... Disgusting behavior.

4 ( +8 / -4 )

just don't ask for a break when you get married, or you'll be on a plane the same day like that Vietnam guy

2 ( +5 / -3 )

And honestly, at the pace Vietnam is developing, they won't want to work in Japan in 10 years anyways.

7 ( +10 / -3 )

The company I used to work for has a Vietnamese workers programme and they pay them lower rates than the Japanese staff. The excuse given is 'its still a better salary than they would receive in Vietnam'. Yeah, but they have to live in Japan.

From my own experience if you are a foreigner in Japan, regardless of your residency status, the Japanese do not want to hire you. They may interview you just to tick the 'interviewed a foreigner' box. My recommendation is just to concentrate on working for a foreign firm.

15 ( +16 / -1 )

"they were not worth the paper they were printed on." Sounds like a degree from college in America.

5 ( +11 / -6 )

And honestly, at the pace Vietnam is developing, they won't want to work in Japan in 10 years anyways.

Actually, it’s a win-win for Vietnam and Japan.

By 2030 some jobs that japanese won’t do will be completely automated, and Vietnam GDP per capita will be in middle class tier, rich enough not to leave country just to get a job.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

I would think that such scheme to bring foreign labor with so many restrictions (limited in time, no family, language requirements useless outside Japan, low pay, limited opportunities...) would not be very attractive, especially when other developed countries are also courting the same manual workers…. But is there any way to gauge whether these conditions are actually attractive for foreign laborers? Or any statistics on the success of the current “training program schemes”?

4 ( +4 / -0 )

nless Japan gets the point that to want a human being means being treated like one, it's meaningless

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

 I will never be treated as one of them, and that’s fine with me.

When you say you "them" do you mean that you'll never be treated as one of those "trainees" or something else?

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Slave labors may be a word to those who comes in group employed from a "black" company interview before entering Japan. Of course, most of the companies are not like that. And people from a very poor country to have work in Japan is exactly that old-time-American-dream. Immigration laws changed a lot comparing the first wave of foreign labors before 2008. The authority checking are much more severe, according to lawyers I have acquaintances. Some comments are very negative to mention Japan's acceptance ways or the companies be using them as slaves. I know most of those problems from my experiences, but let see much forward, how Japan will change and how the labor foreigners will adapt working in very different environment. I know some succeed Brazilians who are working back to Brazil in better life and some still living in Japan as expert of specific area. All depends on the labor foreigner how it will be in 5 years...We are living in changing times and I guess to better ways.

-8 ( +2 / -10 )

@Alexandre T. Ishii: are you not aware that the Vietnamese trainee sent to Fukushima to clean up radioactive material, and another Vietnamese trainee kidnapped from his morning bed and put on a plane back to Vietnam, are recent cases? Things are not getting better. Japan needs a labor revolution. The only ones who can do it are the country's young.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

they were not worth the paper they were printed on." Sounds like a degree from college in America.

Which makes a degree from a Japanese university what?

-1 ( +6 / -7 )

Well, if they meet the requirements specified, then maybe another 5 years isn't too bad, but only if they meet those requirements, have a clean record, and show technical competence. If not, then even 5 years is too long

3 ( +7 / -4 )

So.. a chance for techy people to spend 10 years of their life in a country which does not even pretend to accept them?And you cant bring your families? Why not going elsewhere then? Tech people are in high demand around the world, what does Japan offer to pick it?This attitude?Requirements to not stick out, mind your own business, speak Japanese, have no career prospects..Oh, and maybe you ll never get the money you paid to the pension fund!

Then "elsewhere" sounds like a pretty good option.

When one of my Japanese friends said she's afraid of foreigners coming into the country I was shocked. Then I reminded her that the pension fund might collapse just around the time she gets old-if there is no changes in demography, including accepting more foreigners, but with equal rights when it comes to benefits.

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

The last thing the Abe government cares about is the "transfer of skills abroad". The only thing they care about is securing a temporary workforce that can be expelled at the end of their contract, but who will have no rights or medical care while they are here as indentured servants. Countries that are signatories to this plan should throw it back in Japan's face, except that some exploit their own citizens by sending them here and charging them for the pleasure - those that want to keep Japanese aid flowing, like Burma. Anyone want to be that the "5 year training program" is actually 60 hours per week of OJT at some remote factory at half pay, and the second 5 years at full pay of 8oo yen/hr, both minus "costs", w/ no time off, no ability to leave the workcamp or return home during the contract period, and that contracts and runners will be handled by local members of various national crime syndicates? This is modern-day slavery.

1 ( +6 / -5 )

When one of my Japanese friends said she's afraid of foreigners coming into the country I was shocked

Why? That’s pretty commonplace in Japan in my experience. If you add those who just say they don’t want or need more foreigners living in Japan, that’s a majority in my experience.

11 ( +12 / -1 )

If normal work for foreign nationals in Japan so resembles "slave labour", Why on Earth even bother coming here in the first place? There are many foreign nationals in Japan who don't seem to be complaining at every little thing and are leading productive and fulfilling lives. As an expat in Japan myself, in my view agitating and complaining foreign nationals demanding better pay or whatever does absolutely nothing for the image of all of us and makes life difficult for all of us as well

2 ( +9 / -7 )

It is slavary and after the 5 years, who will go back?

-7 ( +1 / -8 )

Jimizo

Why? That’s pretty commonplace in Japan in my experience. If you add those who just say they don’t want or need more foreigners living in Japan, that’s a majority in my experience.

These attitudes are common among the older generation, but the person I am talking about is rather young, and working in IT-related business, which heavily relies on high-skilled foreigners.

And I also thought she was smarter..

0 ( +6 / -6 )

Darmstadt; you seem to be complaining that you will be tarred with the same brush, but then you do so yourself thinking all jobs and all contracts are the same. Tiers of equivalence only exist through labour laws, standards, and if those laws are continuously conveniently bypassed so that anyone can be dumped onto a plane overnight, but that doesn't happen to you, doesn't mean it's acceptable even if you look away from the safety of a safe tier

4 ( +6 / -2 )

sf2k: Of course I'm worried about being tarred with the same brush. We are all foreigners who will never be completely welcomed in Japan in the eyes of the Japanese, but the status quo is perfect at the moment if you are a skilled expat here. Unskilled work is a different story and no country really welcomes hoards of unskilled labour into the nation without a big backlash like we are seeing in almost every nation around the world today.

A backlash against foreigners in Japan would be highly brutal and all would be included. This is why I don't want these guys ruining it for the rest of us

1 ( +7 / -6 )

9065, et al

A couple of folks commenting seem to think “Technical trainees” means computer capable skills; but they should read further.

Technical trainees in “Farming & Construction” means blue-collar, bust-your-hump labor. It has nothing to do with cyber-security or cryptocurrency or even database creation. So if they have the ‘technical skills’ means they can carry bags of cement up a ladder, kind of.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

borcht: Not sure where I ever mentioned that these guys were computer capable? I only mentioned technical competence in their jobs, which is a requirement for all jobs, regardless of industry. If these guys are not competent in their jobs after 5 years, they should be leaving. Private enterprise here isn't a charity shop for tourists to vacation at for 5 years

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

When one of my Japanese friends said she's afraid of foreigners coming into the country I was shocked. Then I reminded her that the pension fund might collapse...

Shikisai - I think that on balance Japanese would rather be a bit poorer than have large scale immigration from developing countries. Those immigrants that are here should be guests, temporary and the exception. Japan does not want significant immigrant communities and to move towards a multicultural society. It’s the way they are. I presume that your friend was thinking about large scale immigration rather than any immigration at all.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

How competent do you have to be to carry cement up a ladder? And Abe et al claimed that these were jobs to “transfer skills” to other countries. How hard is it to learn these slave-labor “skills” in any country? In fact, the reason third-world laborers are imported into Japan is not to “transfer” their skills to other countries. It is because they Have these skills already. No training required.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

“In nursing = care for elderly that the locals don’t want to do. Meet certain requirements: i.e. Speak Japanese like a native = useful no where outside of Japan.”

Im thinking it actually would be useful in the countries that have enclaves of retired, elderly Japanese.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

And what happens when they no longer become needed ?

4 ( +5 / -1 )

"Which makes a degree from a Japanese university what?"

Extremely valuable, since the employment rate for Japanese university graduates is 98%.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

As for IT - The biggest threat to the Japanese IT workforce comes from the Indian workforce who they've imported enmasse. Indians tend to only hire other Indians thus pushing out any local competition from the workforce.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

A good example of this, comes from HK...

http://www.scmp.com/tech/article/2141118/hong-kong-needs-indian-tech-talent-ensure-greater-bay-area-success-father

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Will these foriegn workers be given the same pension rights as Japanese employees?

Will they be given the same medical insurance?

Will they be given the same bonus's?

Will they have the same union rights?

Or are they just guests for 10 years?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Labour shortage of 150 jobs to 100 should mean wages should go up by a third. Sticky down much?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

There was recently an article on these pages about a foreign employee working in Japan who was summarily shipped back to Vietnam, allegedly for applying for time off to get married. "Come work in Japan as a slave laborer."

1 ( +2 / -1 )

@econstats: "they were not worth the paper they were printed on." Sounds like a degree from college in America.

I know there are a lot of low level colleges that are parasites off of student loans, but US universities dominate world wide rankings and will continue to do so.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Ah_so

You are definitely right about the approach-when first faced the looming workforce shortage, the Japanese chose robots over foreigners. But now, since it got even worse and the robots are not that functional yet-they let some foreigners in,just for a while.

Still, I hope that the workforce shortage will bring some changes to local work culture-since companies have to compete for the employees, and if they don't treat them well, people will be leaving. So better attitude to employees, easier changing jobs and not stigmatizing people who change jobs often-that's what I think long-term changes might be.

As for the IT field, someone wrote about Indians hiring Indians-its not the thing. Its the Japanese who make hiring decisions. The IT specialist shortage is so bad, that companies offer training programs to unskilled staff to change career to IT engineers. Just have a look at job websites.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

If these slave labourers pay into the Japanese pension for 10 years they will become entitled to claim it when they are 65. To prevent that I expect the time limit to be set at 9 years 11 months.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

As long as the emphasis is when-are-you-leaving and not how-long-are-you-staying, it's okay for a little while but it just creates more shortages as people seek more permanent lives and realize they can't do that in Japan. It's not like the infinite refill visas for others here who married and put down roots.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

@Shikisai - you're only partly correct, Senior local (Japanese) managers will allocate the resources for a position, but the actual hire choice is made by the local hiring manager (team lead, etc). I have carried out hiring for numerous positions. Also, I have directly observed what I stated. Furthermore, that HK article simply just goes to reinforce what I said.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@ redsuns

Actually, it’s a win-win for Vietnam and Japan. 

By 2030 some jobs that japanese won’t do will be completely automated, and Vietnam GDP per capita will be in middle class tier, rich enough not to leave country just to get a job.

I help you dreaming but where do you base 'rich enough not to leave country' on?

In 2030 Vietnam may have reached the GDP per capita of Indonesia today. And how can you become 'rich' or 'in middle class tier' when you lack education and skills to meet the demand by foreign investors in Vietnam? Surveys show that Vietnam has an even bigger shortage of qualified engineers and middle managers than other rapidly developing economies do.

As suggested above, when in Japan and qualified for a job, SE Asians should try to work for foreign multinational companies. Do what some educated J women do.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I can corroborate the move of a few Japanese women working for multinational companies. The draw was their child benefits and real working family hours

0 ( +0 / -0 )

10 years? That's quite an internship.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@ mmwkdw

As for IT - The biggest threat to the Japanese IT workforce comes from the Indian workforce who they've imported enmasse. Indians tend to only hire other Indians thus pushing out any local competition from the workforce.

The use of companies like Tata Consultancy Services, Wipro or IBM India have led to many redundancies among European and foreign MNC's active in Europe. A firm like Wipro is willing to take over locals from the existing IT department but TCS only does some cherry picking.

Also the 'comments' on the added SCMP article are interesting to read :)

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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