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Japan eyes allowing skilled blue-collar workers to stay permanently

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Companies wishing to employ them will need to meet some conditions, including paying wages equal to those offered to Japanese workers or more.

Spit up my coffee on this one! Right, expect Japanese companies to hire these workers at the same pay or higher, when they can't raise the pay for their workers now? This is going to cause some serious friction within the ranks!

Who in the hell is going to oversee this one?

17 ( +20 / -3 )

The government also plans to provide livelihood support to foreign workers under the new system.

This seems to mean monetary subsidies. If they are making a decent wage, there should be no need to subsidize them.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

Two things jump out for me, 1 the salery, Japan has the lowest in the G8 for all its boasting about being the 3 biggest economy in the WORLD that's pathetic. 2 language skills, well why after decades of lessons are Japanese so insular? Is it so hard to use English? It's not that they have not had a chance to learn? Japanese is a difficult language even natives turn to their phone for clarification. Asking someone to take a salery cut live in a tiny apartment learn a new language and work 6 days a week. I'm sure some will but there's not going to be a flood of skilled professionals willing to jump through those hoops.

9 ( +13 / -4 )

Why no mention of what "highly skilled" jobs would qualify for nurse for permanent residency

2 ( +4 / -2 )

@Chip Star - This seems to mean monetary subsidies. If they are making a decent wage, there should be no need to subsidize them.

I doubt if they are going to get any special subsidies. This most likely means social welfare and family payment entitlements.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

There is simply no option for Japan but accepting more and more foreign workers. It will just happen out of necessity.

10 ( +13 / -3 )

Companies wishing to employ them will need to meet some conditions, including paying wages equal to those offered to Japanese workers or more.

Forgive me if I'm a bit skeptical that this will actually happen...

Two things jump out for me, 1 the salery, Japan has the lowest in the G8 for all its boasting about being the 3 biggest economy in the WORLD that's pathetic. 2 language skills, well why after decades of lessons are Japanese so insular? Is it so hard to use English? It's not that they have not had a chance to learn? Japanese is a difficult language even natives turn to their phone for clarification. Asking someone to take a salery cut live in a tiny apartment learn a new language and work 6 days a week. I'm sure some will but there's not going to be a flood of skilled professionals willing to jump through those hoops.

Cricky- excellent point. There's been stories about caregivers that have passed the exam only to reject living here and have gone home. Can't say that I blame them. Even if they were to be treated as Japanese nationals, that's hardley an enviable position...

5 ( +7 / -2 )

If they can pass the Garbage Test, i.e., what goes out on which day, give them a Visa!

4 ( +7 / -3 )

I'm guessing the foreign worker with no skills has a chance for permanent residency if he is fully proficient in Japanese and has knowledge and experience in the more than ten fields (why isn't the exact number given? is it an odd number? 11, 13?) the government deems there is a shortage of labor that its citizens won't step up and fill the positions in.

Speak Japanese plus pass the exams for the certificate in their field of work? Highly skilled or not, foreigners who have language skills and pass the exam should be paid well above minimum wage.

I wonder whether the highly skilled worker who will be offered permanent residency and allowed to bring in family members will actually take the chance to make the big move to live here. Why not go elsewhere? Train here, obtain the skills and experience, learn the language then move on to some other country where you and your family can enjoy work and life.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Cough Cough Cough, someone call an ambulance, I'm chocking on this or I have now lost my ability to read properly. Did it I read "permanently"?

IN the mean time Japan must kick out a kid born here, raised here, knows the culture, speaks the language, is educated well, because his mum and dad over stayed a visa 20 years ago.

Next I'll be reading we're getting the vote.

11 ( +12 / -1 )

Just using Indians as an example. Or other countries who earn $2-3 a day for poor people. They have families of 6-10. Then they have extended families who visit and who probably may not want to return. So maybe 1 “pass go and get $200” so called skilled laborer will bring about 20 non-speaking relatives to japan. All probably don’t speak Japanese and half working illegally without a visa. So if 50000 so called skilled laborers get permanent residency, that would be about 1.5 million foreigners, with only 50000 who speak Japanese and the rest, the children may integrate in the school system, but hard to learn Japanese if you are from a rural village with limited education. The good point is if these kids can cope, they can have a great life opportunity than in their country.

but as I have seen in many many countries, they will create separate communities, continue their culture without integration and live in poverty because many are illegals. Crime will rise.

when backpacking in NZ, I was surprised that many shops I went into there was no staff who spoke English. Also in London.

-7 ( +1 / -8 )

dual citizenship too? or just residency. South Korea at least did dual.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

There is simply no option for Japan but accepting more and more foreign workers. It will just happen out of necessity.

With AI and robot technology developing fast in Japan, and robots already working in low skill jobs in hotels and in factory, there won't be a need for mass migration. Just small scale technical jobs. Banks, delivery companies and farms are already hiring robots.

-11 ( +1 / -12 )

Gambatte Japan....lame

2 ( +5 / -3 )

I worked in the blue collar industry for over 10 years here as a hybrid (mostly white collar, but also helped out on the floor when needed).

The foreign blue collar workers were paid the same as the Japanese workers and had the same benefits. I've hear similar stories from foreign workers at other companies.

While I don't imagine that all companies are as generous, it should also be mentioned, that companies in my own country (Australia) often cheat foreign (and local) workers. If TV is to believed, it happens overseas too. The US would seem a prime example of exploiting foreign workers.

I'm writing this because I don't imagine the vast majority of Western foreign workers have set foot inside a factory or construction site here. Yes, there's black companies, but it's also just as a big a problem overseas.

And, shock and horror, it's the nefarious Abe who's pushing it.

But the government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is seeking to open the door to blue-collar workers given the prospect of a deeper labor crunch on the back of the rapid aging of the population and a low birth rate.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

GoodlucktoyouToday 10:01 am JSTJust using Indians as an example. Or other countries who earn $2-3 a day for poor people. They have families of 6-10. Then they have extended families who visit and who probably may not want to return....

Yup, that is what Xenophobia means.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

The biggest problem I have with being a foreign worker in Japan is, paying into the pension scheme/scam. I don’t know any foreigners who intend to retire in Japan and getting the money back is damn near impossible.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

I hope Japan gets the workers it deserves... Seriously, Japan is the most insular and greedy 'developed' nation that I know of when it comes to these things! I feel that Japan will never 'get it'.

If the US didn't plant massive business interests in Japan after the war, Japan would be so irrelevant in the modern world.

There is simply no option for Japan but accepting more and more foreign workers. It will just happen out of necessity.

But only after they have spent so much time and money on marginalizing them and making it clear that (no matter how much they contribute to society here) that they are not Japanese and that they are 'visitors' that are not welcome to consider a future here with their families. Then in the future, the Japanese can continue to blame any and all problems on 'foreign influence'.

Speak Japanese plus pass the exams for the certificate in their field of work? Highly skilled or not, foreigners who have language skills and pass the exam should be paid well above minimum wage.

I think so too. Not only do they bring technical skills, but language skills that exceed their Japanese counterparts and benefit the companies that they work for.

While I don't imagine that all companies are as generous, it should also be mentioned, that companies in my own country (Australia) often cheat foreign (and local) workers.

Not even in the same ballpark. Those few Australian farms and restaurants that did/do that were publicly shamed and faced hefty legal penalties. There are strong avenues for victims of exploitation there, and most citizens of Australia are united in ensuring that companies operate fairly and legally. As an example, my (Japanese) wife had a stable and well-paid government job while she was living there, and a large percentage of her team were immigrants. All were treated and paid the same as any other employee.

Now look to Japan in contrast. Tell me what a worker who is being exploited can do. Heck, Japanese companies exploit the great majority of its own citizens (unpaid overtime etc etc etc). And the government does a big, fat NOTHING about it. The only thing an employee can do (in most cases) is がまん.

You can't even compare the two.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

The government also plans to provide livelihood support to foreign workers under the new system.

This seems to mean monetary subsidies. If they are making a decent wage, there should be no need to subsidize them.

I was thinking the same thing. I don’t think understandable things like language classes or help with finding accommodation would be described as ‘livelihood support’.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Seems like the law is changing every day! When I returned to Japan more than 10 years ago getting a spouse visa in San Francisco at the JP Embassy took a few days. Now considering returning to the US, there is massive paperwork and a long wait to get my wife's visa for the US. I feel Japan is very easy to move to and work.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

AgentX-BEST post! Agree with you 110%!

1 ( +2 / -1 )

@Goodlucktoyou but as I have seen in many many countries, they will create separate communities, continue their culture without integration and live in poverty because many are illegals. Crime will rise.

In Canada, there's French community. In America, there's Chinese, Filipino community. Isn't it normal to attract and connect with your own countrymen? Illegals and crime rate? As the population increases, the percentage of successes, unfortunate events etc will increase along with it.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

 The only thing an employee can do (in most cases) is がまん.

Actually they can quit too, but businesses KNOW they won't.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Companies employing such foreign workers need to treat them equally to Japanese citizens in terms of pay, the outline showed. 

Haha, that’s cute. So that means that regular Japanese workers are treated like those poor Filipino or Vietnamese ladies working 12-14 hours 7 days a week having their passport taken?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Actually they can quit too, but businesses KNOW they won't.

I'd like to think people can leave employers that don't deserve them, and I understand the situation is slowly changing (at glacial speed). But, it's more likely that they can't leave.

Normal salaried workers:

They would be breaking contract. Professionals generally do not like to do this.

If they break contract, they will forfeit the bonuses that are necessary in order to make up for the poor wages.

They will be, essentially, tarred as someone who left an employer.

Companies here usually don't give written references, the next employer will have to call the last employer.

They will forfeit, in most cases, their seniority and have to start from a low wage and a low status at the next company.

Their friends, neighbors and even family might secretly judge them to be 'someone who can't be relied on' (sounds ridiculous, I know, but it's an actual thing with consequences in Japan).

But mainly, it is the contract/bonus situation that keeps people in the chains.

Exploited workers:

The employer will threaten them with all kinds of things.

The employer often takes their passports from them.

Their visa may be rebuked.

Etc etc.

As you know, the only thing that is rewarded in Japan is conformity, no matter how unreasonable one side of the bargain might be. And it's quite sickening the lengths that people will go to to ignore one of their colleagues or acquaintance's suffering - just so they can stay under the radar.

Their ought to be far more unified back pressure on these employers and institutions that treat people as sub-human.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

@Reformed Basher - I have been working in Japanese factories for 20 years in both engineering and production areas. In general after Koizumi and the advent of outsourcing to manpower supply companies I have seen that the foreign workers are paid on par or fairly close to (which is pretty crummy) as the Japanese workers. I am from the U.S. so do not get me started on how the rights of illegal aliens are abused in my country of birth by some of the companies there.

It is interesting to see some of the chest pounding that goes on here on Japan Today by non Japanese when equal or worse abuses exist virtually everywhere in the world.

This is an interesting proposition set forth by the Japanese government. It will be interesting to see how (and if) this manifests over time. More and more we see concessions and admittance that the declining Japanese population is a problem

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Tokyo-Engr - We are not talking about illegal aliens here. We are talking about workers with an approved visa. The world knows that the US is certainly no bastion of equality, but from what I understand, at least there is a push back on mistreatment of workers (and inequality in general). There are things that workers can do. Unlike Japan.

Reformed Basher's comment that draws positive parallels between Japan's and Australia's treatment of migrant workers is not a fair comparison. I have worked professionally in both countries and after my first few years of observing labor practices here - I was appalled, and have been ever since.

Sure, there are worse practices elsewhere in the world - somewhere. But, just to confirm - are we talking about the developed world here? And if it's happening elsewhere, does that somehow nullify what's happening in Japan?

Call it chest pounding if you must. I call it how I see it.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

The biggest problem I have with being a foreign worker in Japan is, paying into the pension scheme/scam. I don’t know any foreigners who intend to retire in Japan and getting the money back is damn near impossible.

A number of countries have concluded national pension totalization agreements with Japan, and while I don't have a complete listing the US appears to be one of them. You might want to check if your country is included.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Agent

I agree we are not talking about illegal aliens yet workers on a proper visa. So we are comparing "apples and apples" as they say.

"The world knows that the US is certainly no bastion of equality, but from what I understand, at least there is a push back on mistreatment of workers (and inequality in general). There are things that workers can do. Unlike Japan."

My comments are that this is not limited to the U.S. there are abuses in other countries, including the EU, SE Asia, etc. In some cases there are retributions possible in Japan. This is dependent on where you work. There are also labor laws here. The issue is cultural. Few Japanese challenge the system and engage legal help - not for the lack of laws - but due to the hierarchical culture existing in Japan.

"Reformed Basher's comment that draws positive parallels between Japan's and Australia's treatment of migrant workers is not a fair comparison. I have worked professionally in both countries and after my first few years of observing labor practices here - I was appalled, and have been ever since."

Fair enough - Which specific practices appall you? I take issue with the wages (far too low and decreasing or stagnant for too long) and the unpaid overtime (not a problem due to lack of laws). The hierarchical issue which results in bullying also exists (I also see alot of older men in positions they do not belong in - just due to seniority).

"Sure, there are worse practices elsewhere in the world - somewhere. But, just to confirm - are we talking about the developed world here?"

Yes - we are

"And if it's happening elsewhere, does that somehow nullify what's happening in Japan?"

Absolutely not. Everywhere should improve and strive to continuously make things better.

Call it chest pounding if you must. I call it how I see it.

It is good you call things as you see them. Again...fair enough....now I will also call it like I see it. And my call is that there seems to be a growing number of posters here who do engage in a sort of chest pounding and talking down Japan and Japanese people. The Japan Today site is fairly balanced but the website at times resembles another once well read website which devolved into constant bashing of Japan. There are issues here. Absolutely. But some of the remarks I see on this website are beyond constructive criticism. Many of the critics fail to cite specific issues and then fail to provide constructive feedback as to how the solve the problem. If it is so bad and people are powerless to do anything the other alternative (and I do hate to say this) is to return to your country.....yes there are issues with Japan (I have been here a long time and will stay) but try to do something positive about it.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

My post should say foreigners not for nurse, damn phone

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@ Do the Hustle, if you pay into the pension system for a minimum of 10 years straight, you can collect no matter where you retire. That's what my wife tells me but you should double-check

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I intend to stay in Japan. I am collecting a monthly military pension, plan to start collecting Social Security at the minimum age of 62, and the Japanese pension as soon as I get paid for 10 years. I hope I stay healthy long enough to make it worth the trouble

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Have paid for 10 years, not get paid for 10 years, I think my phone speaks ESL

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Of course. They need the laborers. They are only kidding themselves when they say they’re limiting the workforce. Ha! Watch Japan change real fast in the next few generations. It’ll become another real international nation.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Japan is xenophobic, but that too is changing, and will continue to change. What they thought belonged to them, their nation, is quickly belonging to those committed to hard work. If young people are unwilling to maintain their nation and start from the bottom, others will do it - gladly. If myopia blinds our people here then others will gently move them aside. A study on how Chinese took over Siberia in a similar fashion makes for a good history lesson. Now White Russians are serving their 3rd - 4th generation Chinese Russians; Siberian halves. Not bad, I’d say.

Japan might get out of their George Wallace mentality and start embracing the inevitable. I give Japan a generation or two. We’ll be seeing a whole new nation here.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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