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As the shrinking population becomes a more serious problem and if Japan wants to be seen as a good option for overseas workers, it needs to communicate that it has the proper structure in place to welcome them.

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Toshihiro Menju, managing director of think tank Japan Center for International Exchange. Immigration has long been taboo in Japan, but pressure has mounted to open up its borders due to an acute labor shortage given its dwindling and aging population. The justice ministry is looking to allow foreigners in certain blue-collar jobs to stay indefinitely starting as early as the 2022 fiscal year.

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Japan wants to be seen as a good option for overseas workers

but it isn't at all.

it needs to communicate that it has the proper structure in place to welcome them

It doesn't- Especially for blue collar workers. As someone who has worked in the blue collar industry, I can tell you that Japan is by no means a good option for overseas workers. By no means

9 ( +14 / -5 )

It isn't a good option for any workers,from overseas or Japanese.

9 ( +11 / -2 )

The justice ministry is looking to allow foreigners in certain blue-collar jobs to stay indefinitely starting as early as the 2022 fiscal year.

Corporate (slave) culture , language barrier, dubious work ethics and "expectations" from above, failing stewardship and high-profile cases of regulatory infractions (with no penalty, of course), stagnant salaries, in the worse case blatant human rights abuses, etc.

Since the Ghosn and Kelly cases are top executive feeling jittery about coming to Japan or dealing with a failing and opaque corporate culture. Mid-managers are thrown-away pawns (work-life balance, salary, 役色定年 (yakushokuteinen) where you stop being a "manager", have to endure a sometimes severe pay-cut but still essentially do the same job, 定年 (retirement) at 60 and re-hiring as a contractor with a lesser salary, etc. Blue-collar workers used as canon-fodder for crappy salaries and shaky contracts (haken, keiyaku, bait, part) where you can't afford to marry, have a mortgage, have kids, retire or even have a decent live...

Japan is anything but "sexy" or "cool" to foreign workers of all grades. Heck, it's not even so for the locals!

After 17 years in Japan, from a professional POV, I can only recommend to get hired abroad and sent to Japan under a foreign hiring agreement and conditions (incl. return home!). If not, be prepared to suffer as we and the locals do...

Full disclosure: I love Japan, but exception made of anything work-world related.

*The justice ministry is looking to allow foreigners in certain blue-collar jobs to stay indefinitely starting as early as the 2022 fiscal year.*

I think most of the neighboring countries in Asia did get the message, hence are not looking forward to come. The measures taken by Abe a few years ago to get foreign workers to come for KKK (kiken/dangerous, kitanai/dirty, kitsui/hard) jobs did fall flat on their face back then. This just looks like it's trying to give some kind of incentive to come here (read: put lipstick on a pig).

Still, for some reason, back in Europe (and the US, I believe) do some still have the impression that Japan is as cool and professionally / financially rewarding as in the 80s (sigh).

10 ( +13 / -3 )

As a long term resident the 3 biggest issues I see are the criminal justice system with forced confession and no immediate right to an attorney, the lack of visitation rights to see your children when you divorce a Japanese woman, and clear discrimination in housing. However if your country is worse then you may not care.

11 ( +12 / -1 )

blue- extremely well said.

Reckless- very good points

3 ( +7 / -4 )

A shrinking population is NOT a serious problem -- unless you want it to be.

1 ( +6 / -5 )

A shrinking population is NOT a serious problem -- unless you want it to be.

It’s certainly not, on its own, a rationale for open-door immigration.

But if your government is deeply in debt and heavily leveraged by promised pensions that it has no way to pay, especially with a shrinking population that decreases the tax base, and especially with an economy that has ranged between deflationary and flat for three decades, it is a problem.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

But if your government is deeply in debt

It's not. Nearly half the govt bonds are owned by the Bank of Japan. Public funds, like the pension fund, own another big portion. Anyway, investors are happy to buy J. bonds for nearly zero return. That's a great position for Japan to be in.

 promised pensions that it has no way to pay,

I haven't heard of pensioners not getting their benefits due to depleted funds. Have you? Pensions are paid when civil servants mark up the bank balances of pensioners with electronic credits. They don’t withdraw cash from a govt bank account, because they don’t need to.

That’s easily doable because the yen is solid stable currency, a global safe haven, which has nothing to do with the country's demographics.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

The typical Japanese work environment is already hell for the locals. What makes you think they'll change to accommodate foreign workers? Working in Japan, in general, is horrible and detrimental to your physical, mental, and emotional health.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

Working in Japan, in general, is horrible and detrimental to your physical, mental, and emotional health

100% on the money

7 ( +8 / -1 )

A shrinking population is NOT a serious problem

Actually here in Japan it already IS a very serious problem. As I have been saying for decades population pyramid for Japan clearly shows the future is GRIM, look at the top & bottom, the top is very heavy & show the population will drop very steadily as the population ages. At the bottom the pyramid is quickly INVERTING, soon even if couples have 3-4kids the population will STILL FALL!!

I agree overall worldwide a lower population would be much better, but looking at each country you really have to look HOW its population is declining, Japan's is set to fall off a cliff, may already be too late in the long term

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Further to Reckless' points, I think what the article is describing solves the biggest problem, that is, recognition of someone working in 3K jobs like demolition, meat and fish packing, and low level manufacturing as a guest worker with individual rights.

Too often in the past, workers have been allowed in through the backdoor via yakuza brokers and have had no individual rights. A guest worker with the right to stay and their hands on their own passport is in a way stronger position than someone with no visa, no passport, and a broker fee of 500,000 yen being taken out of their wages.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Premium Friday, robots and importing workers instead of just making this (in other ways great) country a place where people are happy to work and have a family.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

@ JeffLee

It's not just that the population is shrinking. It's also greying, which is probably a more serious problem.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

If your default mode is viewing foreigners as potential criminals or you won’t allow those working in Japan an opportunity to settle, no one with decent skills and experience will want to come. If you insist on treating foreign workers as disposable work drones with evil on their mind you are on a hiding to nothing.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

A shrinking population is NOT a serious problem -- unless you want it to be.

Its a serious problem regardless of whether you want it to be or not. Its not just about pensions and taxes, its about what living in a country where the elderly far outnumber the young is going to be like, particularly for those young people. The major downsides are not outweighed by whatever benefits might go along with it.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Japan is not a good option for foreign workers because the pay is horrible and working conditions are worse.

Japan's ideal foreigners is a Westerner willing to stay in their place as a cool second-class resident. That is what people may call the "Nova Business Model." They come for the Shimo-Kitazawa, Harajuku, Setagaya, Naka Meguro and Jiyugaoka scenes. They came to Japan for their hobby like anime, cosplay or bujutsu. employment options are limited with an obvious "glass ceiling".

However, most Westerners that involve higher paying jobs at foreign companies in Japan do not want to live in Japan long term even if married to a Japanese person. They can live in a virtual "foreigner bubble" and insulate themselves from most of Japan. Foreign friendly areas like Hiroo, Roppongi, Kagurazaka, and the military facilities. Any attempt of Japan to attract more of these types of people will lead to more Japanese executives and government officials scheming and plotting against foreigners more capable than themselves (Ghosn incident). They do not want to see foreigners doing better themselves in Japan. That goes for most of Japanese society.

Most foreigners come from developing asian countries and work "3D jobs" (dangerous, dirty, and difficult). They too have their own enclaves that usually rely on Japanese people as their main customers like Chinatown Little Nepal, India, Brazilian enclaves, Viet enclaves and Koreatown. Once again, their status and place in Japanese society is obvious and limited.

The exceptions are always entrepreneurs.

Did I mention the pay usually sucks for most foreigners working for Japan Inc?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

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