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Japan ramps up spending for typhoon relief, but workers are scarce

31 Comments
By Tetsushi Kajimoto

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killing 79 with seven still missing.

As of yesterday, NHK reported 88 victims and seven people remained missing. Which one is it?

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

I believe there are lots of workers willing to move to help out. Provide some simple housing and month pay contracts and I'm sure there will be enough workers.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

There are a lot of young, fit workers across Asia who would jump at the chance of well paid (by their standards) labouring jobs in Japan. Forget the strict language requirements, give them a couple or three years renewable residence, pay and house them decently and there would no longer be a labour shortage. Win win situation, Japan gets the labour it needs and they get to remit money back home to help their families.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

I have 3 young able bodied foreigners who were turned down for any positions because they were only accepting Japanese only workers. This is bad. What a shame.

8 ( +11 / -3 )

Sadly priorities are focused on "other" projects,mostly the Olympics.

"Omotenashi" at it's (not) finest!

3 ( +4 / -1 )

@rgcivillian, yes your right, Japan has to stop being so blinkered, narrow minded when it comes to opening up its boarders, there shed loads of people out there that want to work from other countries. when the earth quake hit back in 2011 I was quite happy to give up my time and fly to Japan, I can operate diggers and dumpers that are used on building sites, but when I looked into it, they didn't want any foreign help,

Don't forget that tragic day back in 2011, November the 3rd, which 8 years ago this week end.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

"We are absolutely short of workers," said Yoshiaki Suzuki, president of the six-man construction firm Suzuki Kenzai Kogyo in Chiba Prefecture east of Tokyo, which flooded three times since early September.

What is the pay? Easy to get workers if they make at least 300,000 yen per month for such hard work.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

yeah what a radical idea. Paying decent wages for the job. There would be no worker shortage then.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

 Easy to get workers if they make at least 300,000 yen per month for such hard work.

It is not easy to get workers who are licensed to operate heavy equipment. (backhoes, bulldozer, etc.) There is a shortage of people in Japan with these skills and a lot of skilled labourer jobs going unfilled at the best of times.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

There is also a dearth of skilled tradespeople. Plumbers, welders, carpenters.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

The Olympics took away too many construction workers and also caused a shortage of certain materials like steel bolts.

I know many building workers who are already working a 6 day week.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

There is also a dearth of skilled tradespeople. Plumbers, welders, carpenters.

It's sort of a 'chicken or the egg' type of argument. The companies don't pay the workers, so young people don't get the licenses or learn the skills, which leads to a shortage, which leads to the companies not being able to fill contracts, which means they get less money, so they don't pay high wages, which means young people don't see it as good work and get the training....

The reality is, if these companies would stop giving the yaks their 'percentages' on a regular basis and a few more middlemen were cut off on the brown envelope parade, there'd be money for workers, and you might be able to encourage more people into these jobs.

As for training, the over-regulation (and the brown envelope parade) hurt here too. When I did 5 weeks on a dairy farm in New Zealand, the owner asked me to do tractor work (a Kubota, ironically) on a rather large paddock. When I told him I didn't know his tractor but would be willing to learn, he had one of the more experienced farmhands take me in the tractor to another paddock where we did a one hour lesson, and off I went. For the rest of the week I was doing tractor work in various paddocks in addition to the manual labor.

Meanwhile, if that farm had existed in Japan, I'd have been required to sit for a three week course that cost a couple hundred thousand yen and would have consisted of 40 hours of classroom lectures, 5 exams, and probably about one hour of actual hands on practicing in a tractor before being given my special 'license.'

There are plenty of jobs and labor that can be done without inordinately expensive training or experience. Anyone can haul pipe and lay it out at the plumber's direction. A single carpenter can direct and supervise a ten person team, etc. How else do you think Jimmy Carter's built dozens of houses for Habitat for Humanity, which works with volunteer labor?

7 ( +9 / -2 )

Get the bloody JSDF out there helping these people! It's not as if they are doing anything else! This is the perfect example of Abe doing 'his utmost' to help these people. He found an excuse straight away!

4 ( +7 / -3 )

26000 police officers used for emperor ceremony, why they do not use them for typhoon clean up?

better than sleeping all days...

6 ( +9 / -3 )

Get the bloody JSDF out there 

Beat me to it, Disillusioned.

Yasunari Ueno, chief market economist at Mizuho Securities, says the government is likely to earmark 500 billion to 1 trillion yen for infrastructure rebuilding, while longtime Japan strategist Jesper Koll forecasts something more like 200 billion-3 trillion yen, given the "need for fast and decisive government action."

So it could be half a trillion, or a trillion, according to Ueno.

Or it could be only one fifth of a trillion or 3 trillion according to Koll.

Koll has it all over the place compared to Ueno.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

There are 5 million JSDF members sitting around scratching their privates. Isn’t this what a National Defense Force is for?

2 ( +6 / -4 )

Ramp up? 700 million? This is a joke right? 7 million dollars USD for a national disaster? How much is that 2-3 days work? How many homes are destroyed? How many people are displaced?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Do the hustle

There are 5 million JSDF members sitting around scratching their privates. Isn’t this what a National Defense Force is for?

There are about 250,000 active JSDF members.

¥700 million to help people who are in evac center. ¥500 billion for reconstruction work.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Brian Wheway,

“Don't forget that tragic day back in 2011, November the 3rd, which 8 years ago this week end.”

I don’t remember anything that was a particular tragedy on that day. What was it? Or did you mean March 11, 2011? That is certainly a day I’ll never forget.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

SDF reserves called up for first time since 3/11 for Typhoon Hagibis disaster relief.

In addition to 31,000 active SDF personnel, the ministry has called up more than 260 SDF ready reserves and reserves to engage in work to remove debris and mud and to provide public hygiene support in prefectures including Miyagi, Fukushima, Tochigi and Nagano. The number of personnel in certain regions will be boosted by up to 1,000 people, by drawing on reserves, depending on the situations in the disaster areas.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Brian Wheway

Don't forget that tragic day back in 2011, November the 3rd, which 8 years ago this week end.

You got your dates mixed up. The Tohoku earthquake, tsunami and following nuclear disasters happened on

11th March 2011, sometimes called 3/11.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Perfect opportunity to postpone the Olympics to next Era.

It is not easy to get workers who are licensed to operate heavy equipment. 

License is a pretext. Like when they were saying quake search dogs needed to go through quarantine. It's emergency situation. Bend the rules ! Government can give special visas to workers that are qualified in their countries , to come work for a few months. The Chinese building workers don't need to pass JLPT, apply for visas, retake truck and crane exams for license. They can take the boat with their own equipment and material (24 h to 5 days trip depending on where you need them). There are many other countries with workers ready to do the trip... if you pay them.

There is also a dearth of skilled tradespeople. Plumbers,

Call the Polish plumbers. It's a cliché, but it's based on reality. They have lots of qualified workers willing to do stints abroad. A team came to repair my sister's house basement (after floods too). We were not able to talk to them, but they did everything perfectly.

Isn’t this what a National Defense Force is for?

Rescue is their specialty. I wouldn't trust them to do the pipes in my house. They are not qualified in that. A few of them are equiped and qualified for big work on roads and such. They have good trucks so they could deliver material and food. Don't they already do all that ?

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Coskuri, “Don't they already do all that ?”

Yes, they do. They also set up kitchens to feed people and extremely welcome bathing facilities.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Japan is reluctant to open the gates to foreign manual labour even though, as others have said, they are surrounded in Asia by millions of younger populations that would be able to help and would jump at the chance to earn higher wages. But there are risks that Japan is still not ready to take, such as having masses of people staying on illegally etc., and the inevitable communication misunderstandings and cross cultural problems.

it’s understandable. However one day in the not too distant future, the reality of their demographics means they simply will not be able to deal by themselves with the recovery from large scale natural disasters and they will have to rely on foreign countries to help them. The alternative will be to abandon flooded or devastated rural areas and leave them to nature. You can see it already after typhoon 19. Many of the seniors are too old and are completely helpless to recover and repair their homes and areas unless outside help from younger people comes in. A glimpse of the future unfortunately.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

@Disillusioned

My son who is a proud member of the JGSDF, has been out there since the day of the typhoon and has been going from place to place so often that his wife, nor I have any idea where he is day to day. They can't send every member out there, they do have other jobs to do and must be ready in case disaster hits somewhere else.

@Do the hustle

There are 5 million JSDF members sitting around scratching their privates.

You have no idea as what they do, do you? Your numbers are way off by the way, nearer 250,000, and only 150,000 are JGSDF, they handle most of the disaster relief.

These men and women train, perform maintenance, stand watch, study, test, and then do it all over again everyday!

6 ( +6 / -0 )

tajOct. 28 05:35 pm JST

 Easy to get workers if they make at least 300,000 yen per month for such hard work.

It is not easy to get workers who are licensed to operate heavy equipment. (backhoes, bulldozer, etc.) There is a shortage of people in Japan with these skills and a lot of skilled labourer jobs going unfilled at the best of times.

@taj; the foreigners I mentioned have all the skills, licenses etc, importantly willing to work even at the lower wages but again, its the "only Japanese workers" are hirable. They simply don't want the outsiders doing the job. So it seems they really aren't interested in getting that help. Someone posted about 3/11, well little known to many at the time of the tsunami, many US abled-bodied ships and personnel including shelters, food were at the ready within 30 minutes and available on site to assist but the Japanese government refused the assistance and so countless lives were lost that possible could have saved some of them.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

As a home owner, I have learned that one big problem is people can't make repairs on their own without the red tape. In the states, they start repairing their homes the day after. Here in Japan, if you want to repair/receive insurance claims, you have to hire a government approved contractor. If you have the skills to do repairs yourself and don't have a license/certification to do such repairs your insurance company won't payout. In the states they would take pictures of the damage, keep receipts of materials for the repairs, and photos after to prove the repairs have been made. Send to your insurance company and you have payment.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Adding; I planned to change the porch light on my house and was told I needed to hire an electrician to come and do it. Of course I did it. A five minute job.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Oh and for your information,this is a list by countries that spend most in social welfare for it’s people.

How surprising that the first 19 positions are hold by those evil and pesky westerners isn’t it?

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_social_welfare_spending

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@Do the hustle

There are 5 million JSDF members sitting around scratching their privates. Isn’t this what a National Defense Force is for?

The target strength for the JSDF is a bit under 250,000. The actual number is around 225,000.

I have yet to see a numerical claim by you that was even remotely close to being correct.

@Brian Wheway

[Y]es your right, Japan has to stop being so blinkered, narrow minded when it comes to opening up its boarders, there shed loads of people out there that want to work from other countries.

Japan does not exist apart from its people. You are in effect saying that the Japanese people are “blinkered, narrow minded.” That is a racist claim. Japan is in fact open. I am a naturalized Japanese citizen who came here from Britain.

Neither the US nor the UK accept skilled blue collar workers as such. Immigrants may end up in such jobs, but they get in under other rubrics.

@rgcivilian1

[M]any US abled-bodied ships and personnel including shelters, food were at the ready within 30 minutes and available on site to assist but the Japanese government refused the assistance and so countless lives were lost that possible could have saved some of them.

The US provided substantial assistance that was gratefully accepted. This effort came to be known as Operation Tomodachi.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Tomodachi 

https://www.stripes.com/news/special-reports/operation-tomodachi 

I have to wonder what motivates people to make completely bogus claims here.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

5.3 Job openings for every applicant. That is a big shortage. Many developed countries are experiencing similar labor shortages. Extremely difficult to create automation for construction industries because they are so dependent on manual labor force. However, whoever does invent automation that is practical in construction will make lots of money. Automation is lacking in construction.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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