politics

LDP to tackle 'taboo' of expanding foreign labor force

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By Ami Miyazaki and Linda Sieg

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"The only way to ensure growth...."

They should be looking at GDP per capita, not aggregate growth, given Japan's demographics, and focus on the demand side, not supply side. Growth-at-any-cost policies, if handled poorly, create unacceptable levels of inequality, which in turn, dampen consumption, putting downward pressure on, you guessed it, growth.

This is why developed countries have found themselves in a low-growth era, with deflation and negative interest rates. We've had extensive supply side policies for 30 years now. Guess what....they don't work.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

How about increasing robotics?

-5 ( +8 / -12 )

Just let more foreign workers in since Japan really needs more workers.

0 ( +6 / -6 )

Start with giving jobs to the high number of lazy people on welfare.. They are easy to find. Just look in parks, pachinko shops and shopping centers during the work week.

7 ( +11 / -4 )

The biggest problem for Japan’s economic growth is the shrinking population.”

Wrong answer! The biggest problem for Japan's economic growth is not the shrinking population, it's Abe and the LDP. All they can think about is spending the public's money as stimulus, and with a shrinking population that means lower tax revenues hence this comment about "biggest" problem.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

But rather than rely on immigration, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe wants to focus on drawing more women and elderly into the workforce to fill the gaps, and has made raising Japan’s rock-bottom birthrate a priority.

And this is where he fails! It's impossible to get more women into the workforce until he addresses the terrible situation with Childcare and equali opportunity in the workplace for women. As for the oldies, again it is impossible until he addresses the issues with aged care. Many of the 'employable' oldies are stuck at home caring for their ailing spouses or, in some cases, very old parents. Abe lives in a dream world that is very far from the reality of just how much trouble Jaoan is in. Japan's only natural resource is its workforce, but it is running out. Japan does need foreign workers to prop up the workforce, but it needs to encourage them with decent salaries and stop making them pay into that failed pension system. Yeah, there are plenty of unskilled workers from underdeveloped countries lining up to work in Japan, but Japan needs skilled workers, not monkey-workers. There are enough uneducated Japanese to fill the monkey-worker void. He also need to address the issue of the language barrier. Instead of insisting that foreigners be able to pass the kanji test he should be insisting that Japanese people use a second language. Jaoan has the lowest percentage of second language speakers in the developed world. Less than 10% of the population have any kind of proficiency in a second language.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

Mobilize Japan's hikikomori pollution.

6 ( +11 / -5 )

Why should high skilled workers and academics come to Japan and not go to USA, Europe or Australia were they find better work and life conditions? How to get the right people is the next question Japan has to face once they really accept to open up.

13 ( +14 / -1 )

Bringing in hoarded of unskilled workers with no Japanese Language and Cultural Skills will certainly distrup harmony in the Japanese Society, at least until japanese people get used to it. But here is a better way, there are already a huge number of Asian students in Japanese Language schools. They study at Language Schools for 1.5 to 2 years and then go to senmon gakko or to University depending on their abilities. From this pool you can get 3 types of human resource.

Just passed the language school: Let them get JLPT N3/N2 and use them in Unskilled Labor Senmon Gakko Passouts: Semi Skilled Workers University Graduates: Skilled Workers
9 ( +9 / -0 )

a sign of how sensitive the topic is in a nation that prizes its cultural and ethnic homogeneity.

God, how often do we have to debunk this myth?Japan is not culturally homogeneous. Japan may be close to racially homogeneous, but it is only culturally homogeneous if you take the facile view that race and culture are automatically the same thing.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

Make more babies so they can work(for who?) .. Those who sit in the government are the most confused, helpless against the circumstances , and being so they inflict their confusion on us, make us think that more work will save Japan, shifting our focus from the real issue,that the shrinking population is a symptom of a tired society, a broken connection between people, and a growing internal isolation of the individual. This is the place where all eyes should be focused, and by fixing that, naturally, all other problems will be solved.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I'd suspect the foreign national population may eventually hit 2.5 to 3 million perhaps, but unless employers are actively looking to hire foreigners for a wider range of roles then it won't happen.

This is some time ago, but I doubt things are much different. I taught for a while in regional Japan in the early 2000s fresh out of university. An American came to town and started working in the same school. Wife had pressured him into coming back to her hometown and he was determined to make it work. Spoke pretty good Japanese and had a pretty good work history back home. He did a lot of networking looking to get a job with a local employer, after all there were a lot of exporters in the area, and surely they could use a bilingual to help them right? Wrong. No chance.

I could see the folly in all this right away but he gave up after 18 months and moved to Tokyo. Now back in the US. The point remains that Japan could possibly make better use of the foreign population that it already has, not to mention female and older workers as well.

11 ( +11 / -0 )

Spot on disillusioned and ghost. Apart from the few people who are sent to Japan by their employers for a 3-4 years stint expat stint, Japan isnt an attractive destination for qualified/experienced foreign workers.

If you dont have a job lined up, there is very little choice and the language barrier is just too daunting. Besides, what some of us were ready to do in our 20s or early 30s, quit our job and head to Japan as a language teacher for not much money, is no longer a great option ten years on when we have a decent career in our country. Japan has to make it easier for productive and qualified foreigners to work in Japan, encourage language programs within companies and stop stigmatising people who know little japanese. I think many of us would accept the pay cut, standard hurdles inherent to such move as long as it doesnt make us feel we are 'too' under valued. Who knows we may even bring something to the table!

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Try to recruit the many part-Japanese people around the world. They would have more loyalty and respect for the culture.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

The womenomix can't work in service sector due to the fact that working mothers have to leave office earlier than regular hours and career centric pull of women are less likely make three babies each and increase the populace.

Regardless of language barrier and so on, Japan will be attractive for third world countries vast labor force in blue collar factory works. But service sector requires business level Japanese, unique work style which cannot be fulfilled by foreigners right after arriving Japan. The dire reality is no service company in Japan is ready to use English other than some handful IT start ups. Being working with the Japanese staffs having fantastic TOEIC scores pathetically found very few of them can barely speak effective English in real life conversation. So expecting one fine morning Japan will adopt English all over the country and foreigners would come and jump into the workforce is far from reality even difficult to imagine.

Conclusively saying, immigration can be a solution to shrinking labor force for only blue collar work as we saw in the bubble era. But it would take at least twenty years more to prepare the service sector environment fit for foreign work force.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Politicians are real numb-skulls. Why don't they ask why young people don't get married and have children. 40% of workers, especially young workers, are in irregular jobs, not full time. They can't be sure they will have work tomorrow. How about arranging stable full time work for them? Then they will get married AND have children. Politicians are too rich to understand, and to old to understand (don't be fooled by their black hair - it is dyed.)

6 ( +6 / -0 )

but it is only culturally homogeneous if you take the facile view that race and culture are automatically the same thing.

This is the myth that many seem to believe. Hence the inability of many to have a hard time understanding the difference between citizenship and nationality and race. Japanese people can understand a Japanese-American, but they get lost when the tables are turned.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

katsu78MAR. 06, 2016 - 09:02AM JST a sign of how sensitive the topic is in a nation that prizes its cultural and ethnic homogeneity.

God, how often do we have to debunk this myth?Japan is not culturally homogeneous. Japan may be close to racially homogeneous, but it is only culturally homogeneous if you take the facile view that race and culture are automatically the same thing.

Not really racially homogeneous. Koreans are far more racially homogeneous than Japanese. There are many different ethnicities making up the Japanese population since ancient times no matter what the Meiji government said. And racial diversity in the population is always far better than inbreeding. Even with the drawbacks, ethnically diverse societies tend to be more dynamic, exciting, creative and innovative than homogeneous societies.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Mind boggling that a publication based in Japan specializing in Japanese news cannot get basic facts right. The Japanese birthrate is NOT "rock bottom." According to recent reports, Germany has the lowest crude birthrate in the world. As for the fertility rate, what press reports usually call the birthrate, Japan at 1.4 has the same rate as Germany and Italy. When I checked a few months ago, there were a score of countries including a number of European countries with a lower fertility rate than that of Japan.

Anyone who thinks generic immigration is the answer to the alleged labor shortage in Japan has not been following the German situation. Germany has immigrants up the wazoo and not just from the recent influx of migrants and refugees. But, as numerous press reports have pointed out, Germany still has a labor shortage because the migrants either do not have the skills that are in short supply or they have the skills but are not competent in German.

Immigration is not the magic elixir that so many seem to imagine. Immigrants are not like a liter of petrol where any single one will take you the same distance. For example, in the case of Britain, it has been shown that high skill immigrants from the EU make a net positive contribution to the economy. Other immigrants (overall) do not.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

There's no other ways to gain workforce quicker that accepting more foreign workers. Increasing the birthrate will take some time to realize, and letting elderly people will only have temporal effect.

Also, I think that accepting more people from overseas would help Japan to make better relations with certain countries.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I will save the old geezers two billion hours of unnecessary meetings and tell you what the problem is. The pay sucks. Even a new college grad in Japan will not want to work for a Japanese company. You will get 20-30 man yen, and be expected to be a slave for 12 years at least until you become a manager and have your own slaves. The new recruits at my company hit the wall after a few months and every single one of them appears clinically depressed after 1 year. The drinking parties and stupid tasks are amusing at first but then they realize this is their life. One guy from a good university was tasked with "oyatsu kai" in my group to set up a snack part every week. Unbelievable.

The only way I can stand it is because I do not follow their custom mainly, and take all my leave and leave work on time. I also avoid most drinking parties which now make me sick to my stomach. Ghosh bless, but more foreigners won't solve this rather more bankruptcies such as Sharp and takeover by foreign companies with rational business practices.

7 ( +6 / -0 )

In 2014, foreigners made up 2.1 million, or about 1.3%, of Japan’s population, including around 500,000 ethnic Koreans, many of them born and brought up in Japan.

If they're born and brought up in Japan then they're not foreigners. This "us" vs "them" psychology, which is hostile and unfriendly in Japan, which pervades virtually in every crook and cranny and aspect of Japan, and which affects the way Japanese interact with non-Japanese and makes non-Japanese feel unwelcome, marginalized, and insecure about a possible future in Japan needs to be sacked. Until then, it's like an above poster asked: why would any foreign talent want to come and live here? I would also ask: especially when the Japanese will bend over backwards to limit their participation in society to just "foreign help" and sources of tax revenues?

This antagonistic psychology of the Japanese to all and sundry that's not Japanese is a serious disability they have that is really hurting Japan in many ways and needs to be addressed if they really want foreigners to come here.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

"I could see the folly in all this right away but he gave up after 18 months and moved to Tokyo. Now back in the US. The point remains that Japan could possibly make better use of the foreign population that it already has, not to mention female and older workers as well."

This is very true; Japan already has a multitude of foreigners, old people, young people without pedigrees, housewives etc that are discriminated against due to their age, skill level, nationality, gender and for whatever whim they choose. This is a fundamental that is rarely mentioned. Where else in the world are you asked your age nationality etc when applying for a job? Its an easy way to eliminate those who are otherwise qualified. What they do in Japan is bring in SE Asians, due to similar cultural backgrounds and ability to conform, and put them in language schools, semmon gakkos etc then use them in labor positions that Japanese would rather not do, seen it done many times. Many of the jobs are repetitive, like putting in a bolt move that part on to another worker who does another mudane task, move it until you have a room full of people doing things a machine could do. Every task is scrutinized and many Japanese know this and prefer not the work there. There is high employment, but its mostly for service jobs that cant lead to any career at all; they just pay for the rent and its why most prefer deflation. So they sit on any savings they might have or hibernate in the pachinko . Then there is also the ronin Japanese male worker. He might of got downsized or had an issue at another big company, so he is now on the market, but not available for the elite company due to their extremist hiring polices, so the smaller companies will take him for a year or so, repeat cycle so he is always on the market moving from company to company. Entrepreneurship is not really encouraged as so many regulations and fees are required most give up on that as well. Due to language inablity and introverted mindset, they wont go abroad either There is allot of money in Japan, but people need a reason to spend. When the yen rate was 300 to the USD, companies were flush with cash and had little to loose when paying a semi skilled worker a huge wage, could guarantee him/her lifetime benefits, they in turn felt secure and would spend like crazy. No w its all flipped. Instability in the market and only hiring temporary workers means nobody will spend, and companies wont hire anybody over 30 for F/T positions. They first have to give up on the idea that the bubble economy and 300 yen rate are coming back. There are actually many people who think it will; is some sort of strange mental phenomenon that Ive witnessed, when the yen went to 125 people were starting to get cheery and believe the good times of the 80s were coming back, not even understanding why the rate changed. Its highly unlikely that a bubble economy will ever come back. Instead, its going to require some drastic reforms, at the academic level and also bureaucratic level. The people need to become more internationalized, and allowed to have whatever opportunity they can create themselves instead of being controlled by so many layers and organizations.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Most of you are not looking at the big picture.

Robotics is the answer and cure for all the ills here. This country is brilliant at robotics. Top in the world.

No need to bring in other people. Make this a robo-country.

It will be pretty cool. Robots will be able to make more robots too. Salary men are already robotic. They would not mind, believe me.

This is the answer to Japan's problem.

-10 ( +4 / -13 )

smaller companies where the majority or the work is at cannot afford to use all robots, they just over staff with cheap labor. Ive seen some machines using technology from the 70s in Japan. Your missing one of the fundamentals, again. Large companies use robots, but the smaller companies are still mostly old school.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

How about bringing the Nijkkeijin from Cuba,since the country is opening up,and some more Brazilians since the situation there is a bit slow...just trying to help...

1 ( +1 / -0 )

shonanbbMAR. 06, 2016 - 11:11AM JST Robotics is the answer and cure for all the ills here. This country is brilliant at robotics. Top in the world.

Is it? Got evidence to back that up? I mean, sure, Japan could be said to be top in the world when it comes to gimmicky cute vaguely human-like robots like Pepper and Asimo that don't actually accomplish anything useful, but get all the otaku hot and bothered. But practical robotics? I'm not convinced Japan has any real lead over anyone else. Hell, Japan can't even dominate the consumer drone market, which by combining RC, robotics, and photography, should be right up the country's alley.

And that's leaving aside the enormous problems of robots being unable to do a lot of jobs requiring judgment and adaptation for which humans are far superior, and the fact that robots don't collect salaries and don't pay tax so they can't really grow the economy the way Japanese leaders are looking. In the end, the only reason to go with robotics over people in general (as opposed to for the specific, repetitive jobs which are already being automated because robots are already ideal for them) is if one has an irrational opposition to immigration.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Without giving clear and reasonable paths towards permanent residency any attempt to fill gaps with "foreign" workers is only going to lead to transient low skilled workers with no investment in the country, exactly the kinds of people these xenophobes are so afraid of, and frankly not the types of people I want here either.

There are some clear and obvious things to do to both make Japan more likely to turn around its birthrate problem and possibly at the same time make it a more attractive place for others who want to stay.

Trouble is, these old men would rather see the country shrink away into insignificance than to change and consider looking at how to really embrace the globally connected world we live in now.

Every country has different issues and none is perfect, but there are some very specific and clear issues here.

There are serious issues with education being based around passing tests to get into certain schools, and then certain universities, to a certain company to which you are wedded for life, that economy doesn't exist anymore.

Once you arrive at a company you are often faced with a level of ritual and bureaucracy that seems to have almost been designed to eliminate any enthusiasm and innovation that may have sneaked though the school years.

Not only is the work environment almost completely toxic in many cases, abusive bosses, unrealistic expectations with often zero training, it also interferes heavily in almost every case with any semblance of a balanced life, happy family making can't happen on just a sunday night after a week of unnecessary 12-14hr days, a recovery day and then spontaneous "romance time".

Abe suggests more women in the workforce and on the surface of that it seems like a good idea, but without serious changes to the childcare policies, and perhaps more importantly the work culture, its almost a moot point. Leave your kids in possibly less than ideal care to be treated like a second class human for a third of the wage is not going to attract women to work.

I have recently, more than once, told older guys in the office that the women in our office aren't there to get them coffees or tea, in many cases the women are actually in higher positions than them (being a local office of an american company).

Then.. the 'terrible foreigners', get with the program Japan, disallow companies to be prejudice with housing and other services based on race or origin for example, allow dual citizenship for skilled, well salaried earners, promote a better work environment and people will come, because there are aspects of Japanese culture that are amazing and fantastic, that no-one wants to lose.

Will Japan change, yes of course, just like it has many times before.

There will be some that see this as an attack on what Japan is, but it isn't, its about the people in charge, I love Japan it is my home and I am as invested as anyone can be without giving up my rights to be treated as a citizen where I am from. If you can't separate criticism about policy from nationalism then Japan is truly lost.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

If they're born and brought up in Japan then they're not foreigners.

Got to be an American right? Just because someone is born and raised in a country does not automatically give them citizenship so while it may be semantics to some, there is no "birth-right" citizenship here.

Is it? Got evidence to back that up? I mean, sure, Japan could be said to be top in the world when it comes to gimmicky cute vaguely human-like robots like Pepper and Asimo that don't actually accomplish anything useful, but get all the otaku hot and bothered

Actually thanks to the robotics industry in Japan new robots and devices have been created that are extremely useful, I big example is the new machines being invented for use at the cleanup at Fukushima.

There is a place for robots in Japan, and many industries already use them, but they are not the answer for everything.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe wants to focus on drawing more women... into the workforce to fill the gaps, and has made raising Japan’s rock-bottom birthrate a priority

Sorry ladies in Japan, Abe the economic saviour expects you to do both.

shonanbbMAR. 06, 2016 - 11:11AM JST Robotics is the answer and cure for all the ills here. This country is brilliant at robotics. Top in the world.

The problem isn't a lack of workers. It's a lack of people earning an income so they can send a chunk of it to the government to help pay for pensions and elderly care. Unless you think we can make robots pay tax and help stimulate the economy by buying their own equipment and paying for their own maintenance then you'll destroy the economic cycle.

Remember what you learnt at school? Company A pays worker A who spends money at company B, who pays worker B who spends money at company A. Replace workers with robots and you destroy the cycle. Beneficial for major corporations in the short term but companies will gradually fall apart and the world suffers for it in the long term.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

YubaruMAR. 06, 2016 - 12:12PM Actually thanks to the robotics industry in Japan new robots and devices have been created that are extremely useful, I big example is the new machines being invented for use at the cleanup at Fukushima

Oh, sure. I'm not disputing that Japan has made useful robots. I'm questioning shonanbb's assertion that Japan is "top of the world." A few very specialized robots for specialized purposes does not put the country on top of the entire industry. And as you said, they aren't the answer to everything.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

No matter how all threads say. Its too late. Unable to absord other immigrants and culture, japan will be old folks country. Sooner Japan no longer function with all older people. Abes dream of Japan great military falter with old man handling guns. China army sweep and conquer japan in 2 weeks. With weak resistance. Oldman cant do banzai.. fyi.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Living in Japan may be a step up for South Americans, other Asians, Africans and the like, but for north western Europeans, Americans, Australians, Canadians, and New Zealanders, living in Japan is - while albeit interesting for a short period of time - most definitely a major step down. There are the odd exceptions, of course, but overall, for those of us who live in the better countries, Japan is more or less a reasonably clean 3rd world country. The truth hurts, but you know it's true.

5 ( +12 / -7 )

as one poster just said, why would skilled foreign workers want to come to Japan, when salaries conditions and lifestyles are much better in countries like US, Canada, Australia NZ, UK etc. The only foreign workers Japan could hope to get in large numbers are low skilled from poorer asian countries, its doubtful Japanese have the stomach for these type of immigrants in large numbers.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Living in Japan may be a step up for South Americans, other Asians, Africans and the like, but for north western Europeans, Americans, Australians, Canadians, and New Zealanders, living in Japan is - while albeit interesting for a short period of time - most definitely a major step down.

100% true. Had they made policy changes 10-15 years ago, Japan would have been able to attract highly skilled workers from said countries. But with taxes going up and economy going down. Skilled workers will look to go elsewhere. Other countries in Asia pay 1.5 to double the salary that Japanese businessmen make. Very soon Japanese people will have to make the decision between staying and helping Japan or moving overseas to the benefit of their families and their children's future. So we may well lose highly skilled Japanese workers as well as immigrants.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

to be an American right? Just because someone is born and raised in a country does not automatically give them citizenship so while it may be semantics to some, there is no "birth-right" citizenship here.

Yes, yes, and while I wrote that I was fondling my gun, eating a cheeseburger, and wiping katsup with my tee. It's pretty sad then that you think people who are born and raised in a country, expected to assimilate and all that stuff, but they still should be marginalized and deemed outsiders.

Let me answer your question with a question: got to be a ganko oyaji right?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

One simple solution is for the government to heavily subsidize English education in Japan. This may be in the form of tax breaks for private Eiken companies or cash injections for BOE's.

Native English speakers come from the desirable countries mentioned above. E.g north western Europeans, Americans, Australians, Canadians, and New Zealanders. These immigrants usually come as young graduates filled with enthusiasm, energy and, to be honest, a lot of naivety.

Provide long term contracts that have yearly salary increases and that have bonuses for completion and resigning.

The positives include, more higher paid workers who can be taxed sufficiently. They're not taking jobs from Japanese nationals... Trust me, they're not. English communication will improve across the nation and the Japanese economy will improve.

One other possibility, is injecting cash only to BOE's in prefectures that are becoming ghost towns. Towns where the average age is 50+ can instead have an influx of well paid English teachers who will spend their money at local businesses. Yes, these towns have an insular elderly population. But once they know of the benefits. Small businesses owned by elderly couples will jump at the opportunity.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

One simple solution is for the government to heavily subsidize English education in Japan. This may be in the form of tax breaks for private Eiken companies or cash injections for BOE's.

First off, can I ask where you have been for the past 3 decades or so? The government has invested literally HUGE amounts of money in English education and some may say to no avail as well.

Private EIKEN companies? Eiken is already private, and pray tell what does the Eiken do for English in Japan? Really how many people who have Eiken 3rd level, or pre-2nd, or 2nd level, actually speak English? "I'm fine thank you and YOU?" beyond that of course.

ne other possibility, is injecting cash only to BOE's in prefectures that are becoming ghost towns. Towns where the average age is 50+ can instead have an influx of well paid English teachers who will spend their money at local businesses. Yes, these towns have an insular elderly population. But once they know of the benefits. Small businesses owned by elderly couples will jump at the opportunit

Ghost towns have no need of JET's or English teachers as they have few kids that need teaching....

I am guessing that your entire post was being sarcastic, so my reply is such too. Because if you are serious.....WOW, just WOW.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

YubaruMAR. 06, 2016 - 12:12PM JST

Actually thanks to the robotics industry in Japan new robots and devices have been created that are extremely useful, I big example is the new machines being invented for use at the cleanup at Fukushima.

Yeah, that was after Japan had to use robots donated from overseas during the initial cleanup because such robotic technology didn't exist in Japan at the time. I suppose the Japanese media made sure that was not talked about too much.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

@Shonanbb

"Robotics is the answer and cure for all the ills here."

Really? Where do humans fit in to your plan, just as consumers?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

The headline says it all.

This is the very last choice Japan has and it's taken decades for this to be broached.

And immigration isn't flavour of the month as Europe's experience shows.

Can't help but feel a sense of doom.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

In my opinion we should be skeptical of importing foreign workers. It was a good idea 30 years ago when economic growth was driven by manufacturing and the size of the labour force was critically important, but the world has moved on. Today it's more about technology and innovation. Japan needs to jettison unsubstantial labour intensive industries and focus on productivity.

As I see it, we have 3 issues at play:

a.) Factories located in Japan that lack a sustainable workforce

b.) Workers located in develping countries

c.) Japanese politicians wanting to maximise tax revenues in order to keep spending at current levels

The logical answer to problems a.) and b.) is to relocated the factories to the workers, not forcing the workers to relocate to the factories.

However, bringing workers to Japan might solve problem c.). It will allow the government to keep collecting the same amount of tax revenue and pension contributions they've grown accustomed to. This is why the government is considering it and why we should be careful. Japan needs to change the way it works and spends rather that trying to turn back the clock.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

The solutions are all there waiting to be implemented; what's lacking is the political will to make decisions that will upset powerful stake holders and the many 'I'm all right Jack' types who are comfortable with keeping things just as they are. Do nothing and the writing is on the wall, a population of around 80 million of whom half will be near retirement age; a recipe which nobody who is interested in securing Japan's long-term prosperity would comfortably entertain. The solution is an organic transition that embraces lessons from the nation's own past. The new template would firstly acknowledge the close affinity between Japan and Korea and it's corollary, the necessity of repairing and restoring a relationship with enormous potential for mutual benefit. By allowing liberation from attitudes of narrow provincialism and outmoded protectionism, Japan also gains an opportunity to showcase more widely those things which have authentic value as part of a world culture.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Yeah, that was after Japan had to use robots donated from overseas during the initial cleanup because such robotic technology didn't exist in Japan at the time

Sorry to disagree here, the technology existed, and please refresh my memory, where did Japan borrow robots from?

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/8-limbed-robot-to-help-japans-fukushima-cleanup/

http://blogs.wsj.com/japanrealtime/2015/12/17/new-robots-deployed-at-fukushima/

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

YubaruMAR. 06, 2016 - 04:56PM JST

Yeah, that was after Japan had to use robots donated from overseas during the initial cleanup because such robotic technology didn't exist in Japan at the time

Sorry to disagree here, the technology existed, and please refresh my memory, where did Japan borrow robots from? http://www.cbsnews.com/news/8-limbed-robot-to-help-japans-fukushima-cleanup/ http://blogs.wsj.com/japanrealtime/2015/12/17/new-robots-deployed-at-fukushima/

Your links refer to new robots inspired by the foreign ones borrowed during the INITIAL clean up.

Japan's Absent Robots Japan is famous for its robots. So why has it relied on foreign built ones during the Fukushima nuclear crisis? http://thediplomat.com/2011/06/japans-absent-robots/

Domestic robots failed to ride to rescue after No. 1 plant blew http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2012/01/06/national/domestic-robots-failed-to-ride-to-rescue-after-no-1-plant-blew/#.VtvlAfl96rw

WHERE ARE THE JAPANESE ROBOTS? – DECEMBER UPDATE http://amrel.com/2011/12/08/where-are-the-japanese-robots-december-update/

I guess you were misled by the Japanese news media.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Back on topic please.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Nothing new. It will still be business as usual. Japanese politicians have been discussing this issue for 2 decades. Keep discussing. Domestic cultural harmony is too important for most Japanese. It's conditioned deeply.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

a nation that prizes its cultural and ethnic homogeneity

Okinawans, Ainu, haafu, naturalised Zainichi, and foreign passport holders, combined make up around 5% of the population. This fantasy of ethnic homogeneity really needs to be dropped - it's 120 years out of date.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

The simple truth is that you cannot attract highly skilled workers with a Yen 350,000/month salary and no fringe benefits. Africa and South East Asia pay much better than that. The work conditions in Japan are attractive to unskilled labourers only. I know of some Japanese fellows who are highly skilled who are not ready to work in Japan.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

I agree and support Abe Shinzo policy concerning immigration and allowing foreign workers to come and work. Japan,at least Japan has to be very selective-like Canada and Australia-in case its badly needed.No open door policy to immigration.It has to be well organized and controlled.Lots of foreigners lots of problems.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

In reading through the comments, I noticed many assertions about monthly salaries in Japan. I did not see any indication that those quoting these salaries recognized that regular employees in Japan typically receive at least 18 months pay per year, sometimes more. Further, regular employees have their commuting expenses paid by the company. This is tax free income. In Britain, for example, you have to pay commuting expenses out of pocket. Regular employees also receive various other allowances including housing and health care above and beyond what the national scheme pays for. Further, when you retire, you receive a substantial lump sum payment in addition to your pension.

A proper comparison should be done on the basis of the total compensation package per year in Japan versus the total compensation package in other countries. In my field which is presumably skilled since you basically need to a PhD to get a job, the typical Japanese compensation package is very competitive with what I would expect in Britain.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

I agree and support Abe Shinzo policy concerning immigration and allowing foreign workers to come and work.

Meaning that you support elitist policies as Abe only wants highly educated or highly skilled workers into Japan.

`@ igloobuyer;

Thank you for refreshing my memory.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

bullfighterMAR. 06, 2016 - 07:53PM JST

In reading through the comments, I noticed many assertions about monthly salaries in Japan. I did not see any indication that those quoting these salaries recognized that regular employees in Japan typically receive at least 18 months pay per year, sometimes more. Further, regular employees have their commuting expenses paid by the company. This is tax free income. In Britain, for example, you have to pay commuting expenses out of pocket. Regular employees also receive various other allowances including housing and health care above and beyond what the national scheme pays for. Further, when you retire, you receive a substantial lump sum payment in addition to your pension. A proper comparison should be done on the basis of the total compensation package per year in Japan versus the total compensation package in other countries. In my field which is presumably skilled since you basically need to a PhD to get a job, the typical Japanese compensation package is very competitive with what I would expect in Britain.

Sadly, given the decline in Japan's economy, the yen and deflation Japanese incomes are not as high as in Europe, North America, AU and NZ etc. (yes even with the bonuses which are going down and travel expenses) and this trend is very unlikely to reverse in the near future. Not forgetting Japan has one of the lowest minimum wages and few people take all their paid holidays so they work more hours for less money.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

I am not sure whether getting women to work would increase birth rates, even if they had fair working conditions. It is important to provide equal opportunities for women, but birth rates are a more complicated issue.

A redistribution of wealth might be a priority. For instance, cut high-rank white-collar benefits and raise new entrants salaries. At least they could solve some age inequality problems in urban areas.

A development of agriculture (when nokyo will disappear) might as well create jobs and also help with rural depopulation.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

This is why Abe and LDP is such incompetent politicians. Why on earth do people keep voting for him? Are these voters all rich as hell, they don't have to live through the poor economy? Sometimes I wonder if they are so far in the right wing fringe, they can't even tell the country is being destroyed slowly.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Japan remains afraid of 1.3% of its population. The notion that could even become 10% is simply unfathomable in such a xenophobic country.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Its all pretty much covered above, to summarize Japan, your TOO LATE, this should have been talked & implemented 20-25yrs ago.

People with skills from western countries wont want to live here long term, at best Japan can poach a few skilled people from 3rd world countries but only a FEW because many places are just BETTER than Japan.

And this blurb is still talking about DISPOSABLE workers W...........T...........F!

Sorry Japan you continually get it all WRONG, I am pretty sure Japan is now or will be soon beyond fixing, I get NO JOY typing that but its how I see it, once again I am SO glad we don't have kids here

That said getting more gaijin living in Japan is only a SMALL piece of the puzzle and as a few very smart posters above have stated Japans very POOR use of us gaijin already here long term is just stupid beyond belief!

Come on Japan please STOP getting it wrong all the time!!! Prove me wrong I BEG YOU!!

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Living in Japan may be a step up for South Americans, other Asians, Africans and the like, but for north western Europeans, Americans, Australians, Canadians, and New Zealanders, living in Japan is - while albeit interesting for a short period of time - most definitely a major step down. There are the odd exceptions, of course, but overall, for those of us who live in the better countries, Japan is more or less a reasonably clean 3rd world country. The truth hurts, but you know it's true.

Damn, couldn't have said it better myself! I've had big dreams of living and working in Japan but after surveying the work situation from afar while living in Sydney then traveling around Japan for a while and having come from a life growing up in Johannesburg, I know that where I am is about as good as it gets. As you say, it would be interesting for a while and then I'd be the same as some dude locked into his soul destroying, low paid job. Actually, it would be worse, he has no choice, I would have CHOSEN that life. Im probably the targeted age group and skill set that a country would look for if it was importing but no way Jose, get paid less than half what I get now, worse off quality of life...why bother.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

If anything they should raise the minimum wage 20-30%. This will give younger people more $$$ and options for schooling. =Work less, and use that extra time to get a better job/career. The era of all this cheap work is coming to an end with automation. In a way this is already happening with many of these low paying jobs not being filled and employers scratching their heads. It seems the sweatshops are worried and pushing Gov to do something.

Japan Gov needs to do a better job of getting people into the right areas for this new economy that is now global. There should be incentives(even at the High School level) for people to get educated in areas where talent is needed and money can be made.

Compared to South Korea -Japan does not have as many start-ups and innovators. There are innovators in Japan, but they are much more hesitant and slower acting mostly due to lower funding. -This is trending up, however the costs in Japan are higher and at some point a majority of the business must leave or be outsourced.

Immigration helps lower employment costs and salary but doesn't address education and innovation. For 2-4 years immigrants are in a catch-up phase where a 1st year regular employee would start. =Raise the salaries, get people educated and keep they healthy for a long work life.

example: Robotics in Japan: Companies like Toyota, Honda et al use 90%+ Japanese robotics. This is also true for all the foreign Toyota, Honda plants. -A great way to train employees on a technology have them work overseas and learn a new language, come back and be an asset to management, sales , engineering etc. =This brings value to Japan. Just hiring an immigrant, have them learn little, and then leave does not help except for maybe the lower wage (net value loss long term).

3 ( +3 / -0 )

@ Bullfighter Mar. 06, 2016 - 07:53PM JST - If I confine my observation to salaries in academics, which is what I do, academicians in the UK are lowly paid compared to the cost of living in the country. Even big names institutions like the LSHTM do not pay handsomely even though they charge exorbitant tuition fees. If the salaries in academics reflect salaries in other fields in the UK, then you may be right that Japan pays better than the UK.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

I was an asset to Japan. Could see it everyday. But Japan thought I was not. Too bad for the country. I don't care since life Isis smoother where I come from in Europe and can get visa anytime. Perhaps my kids in 15 years will be welcome with open arms and incentives for the effort to come that long way ?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

This is inevitable no surprise here, dying population and workforce shortage, it will happen sooner or later.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Japanese automaker branches in USA utilize robotic Technologies to manufacture cars in USA. Result no need to manual labor and US has unemployment problem. Cup ramen to chocolate branches of Japanese companies are pioneers of robotics in USA

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@igloobuyer: Sadly, given the decline in Japan's economy, the yen and deflation Japanese incomes are not as high as in Europe, North America, AU and NZ etc. (yes even with the bonuses which are going down and travel expenses) and this trend is very unlikely to reverse in the near future. Not forgetting Japan has one of the lowest minimum wages and few people take all their paid holidays so they work more hours for less money.

I thought we were talking about highly skilled foreign workers in Japan and not about people who work for the minimum wage. As a foreign worker in Japan, I make sure to take all my paid holidays and nobody has objected to this so far. I seldom stay after the end of the working day and nobody has objected this either. My yearly package includes the 18 monthly payments mentioned by another poster, commuting expenses paid by the company, and a number of other additional allowances. Not to mention that the salary is raised every year (if you are not working on a fixed contract, your salary is raised somewhat every year, believe it or not) and though the yen has indeed been depreciated for several months, the sting has hardly been felt as I spend my money in Japan now. I am sorry to disappoint you but the bonuses I received last year were not decreased (to say the least) either.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

@JaneM

I thought we were talking about highly skilled foreign workers in Japan and not about people who work for the minimum wage. As a foreign worker in Japan, I make sure to take all my paid holidays and nobody has objected to this so far. I seldom stay after the end of the working day and nobody has objected this either. My yearly package includes the 18 monthly payments mentioned by another poster, commuting expenses paid by the company, and a number of other additional allowances. Not to mention that the salary is raised every year (if you are not working on a fixed contract, your salary is raised somewhat every year, believe it or not) and though the yen has indeed been depreciated for several months, the sting has hardly been felt as I spend my money in Japan now. I am sorry to disappoint you but the bonuses I received last year were not decreased (to say the least) either.

That's very nice for you Jane, but you are hardly the average Japanese worker now are you. Let the statistics speak for themselves:

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

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

"People with skills from western countries wont want to live here long term, at best Japan can poach a few skilled people from 3rd world countries but only a FEW because many places are just BETTER than Japan."

Does that mean that all you immigrant foreigners who want to pass for "experts" on a daily basis are unskilled then?!

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

@Igloobuyer

That's very nice for you Jane, but you are hardly the average Japanese worker now are you. Let the statistics speak for themselves: - See more at: http://www.japantoday.com/category/politics/view/ldp-to-tackle-taboo-of-expanding-foreign-labor-force#sthash.6W85sr0q.dpuf

Thank you for the link. No, I am not the average Japanese worker because 1) I happen to be a foreigner and 2) the native Japanese workers in my Japanese company get higher salaries than I do (of course, I also happen to be younger than most of them with a shorter work career). If you look only at the figures in that wiki article, you might think that the disposable income is the only factor which makes people stay & work in a country (be it their native or a foreign one). However, Sweden, Finland and France, for example, rank lower than Japan but they are considered by many desirable places for life and work. And what is it with the condescending attitude towards the experts from Asian countries? Oh, and why do so many of the posters commenting here who have obviously chosen to live in Japan happen to come from the countries ranking higher than Japan in the link you provided?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Either populate, allow more people to immigrate, or perish. Japanese people have no real incentives from the government to populate, so that leaves only two realistic choices. The sooner the greyheads at Nagatacho do what they so well - force (immigration) legislation on the country - the better

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Jane

However, Sweden, Finland and France, for example, rank lower than Japan but they are considered by many desirable places for life and work.

Sure, that is true, Japanese average salaries are very marginally higher than they are in these Scandinavian nations, but you are forgetting that these countries have high taxes (which eat into their expendable income) but very generous social security systems - free health care, free education including tertiary etc. Benefits that Japanese people do not enjoy.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

They pay higher salaries too, to make all the above possible

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Skilled workers are no longer coming to Japan. The pay is terrible (and only getting worse), working conditions backward & labour laws totally lax (more like nonexistent). It's even worse if you're a woman, with gender discrimination (among others) & harassment being the daily norm in corporate Japan. Gender roles akin to a propaganda poster from the 1950s.

After living here for almost a decade, I've seen Japan gradually decline. The country is stuck in a juxtaposition between wanting to move forward while clinging onto its traditions - for better or for worse. This is the same approach to immigration - Japanese simply don't support it. I understand their reasoning, but that's the reality of the situation.

My g/f's ex-boss recently set up a business in Sydney and upon returning to Japan last week, he kept saying how he couldn't believe how much family time people had. Australians value family time above all else because there are laws in place at every level that allow this to happen. Such laws will never exist here. Now, I'm not saying one lifestyle is better than the other, but this is the hard truth. Japan, especially Tokyo, is not the most ideal place to raise a family. If you're a business professional in your 20s - 30s considering working here, forget it.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Sadly, you are right

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The only way for "Japan" to continue to exist is to surrender its sovereign status to the United States of America and become an official territory of the USA. The Japanese language, it's ancient meaningless culture, and it's archaic naming system must be completely abolished and replaced by the superior American English system. All Japanese Government officials must be immediately terminated and replaced by American Government officials and their assistants. American contractors and their employees will then be given priority to all construction projects throughout "Japan". English will become the official language of "Japan" which, in time, will be renamed. This is the only solution.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I believe Abe eetc are talking about shortage of laborers and trying to find how gov't can entice educated Japanese ladies to jobs. Then unskilled laborers from some other countries. Level of Japanese skilled workers and other countries' differ.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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