The immigration bureaucracy, which is in charge of procedures, is understaffed under a system that aims to solve the “labor shortage”. | FRIDAY DIGITAL

The immigration bureaucracy, which is in charge of procedures, is understaffed under a system that aims to solve the “labor shortage”.

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Four Months to Complete the Procedures

Against the backdrop of a labor shortage, demand for foreign human resources is increasing.

However, from early February to July, there were quite a few foreigners in Hokkaido who wanted to work but were unable to do so. According to the Hokkaido Shimbun, there was a case in which it took four months to change the status of residence.

According to the Hokkaido Shimbun, there was a case in which it took four months for the immigration authorities to process a change of status of residence.

Shoichi Ibusuki, a lawyer who has worked on immigration control issues and human rights issues for foreign workers for many years, said, “I have heard many stories about the long time it takes for the immigration bureau to process a change of status of residence.

What is the reason it takes so long?

There are many items to examine, and basically it seems to take a certain amount of time. The reason why it takes even longer is probably because the applications are concentrated all at once in areas where the immigration bureau is relatively understaffed, and the bureau has fallen further and further behind in manpower. Even if that is the case, four months for examination is unusual.”

According to the Doshin, an Indonesian man who had worked in the manufacturing industry for three years as a technical intern applied in February for a change of status to a specified skill to work in the livestock industry, but had to wait four months for the procedure to be completed. During that time, he was unable to work and had no income.

Prime Minister Kishida said at a meeting of relevant ministers in June, “In light of the serious labor shortage, I hope that you will work to further improve the environment for accepting foreign nationals so that Japan will become an attractive country of choice as a place to work” (PHOTO: AFLO).

When a foreign national wishes to change his/her status of residence from technical internship to specified skilled labor, he/she needs to submit documents such as a certificate from the company where he/she was engaged in technical internship and an employment contract with the new company where he/she will work as a specified skilled foreigner, and then apply for a change of status of residence to the Immigration Bureau with these documents attached. Then the examination begins, which takes two or three months, creating a gap period. During that time, they have no income because they cannot work. Of course, there is no compensation of any kind.

Many foreign workers come to Japan to work, borrowing money. For them, taking two months off is unthinkable. I believe that many people have given up on changing jobs because of this gap.

The government should set up a system that allows them to work without interruption during the period of the examination.

All we have to do is manage foreigners…”

A senior official of the Immigration Bureau once wrote in his book “200 Questions on Legal Status” (1965) that the treatment of foreigners “belongs to the complete discretion of the Japanese government, and according to the principles of international law, they are ‘free to eat them boiled or grilled. Attorney Ibusuki points out that “this view is still alive nearly 60 years later.

The immigration bureaus think only that ‘as long as they manage foreigners, that’s all that matters. Because there is no consideration for foreign workers at all, procedures such as residence status are not easily corrected.

It is only natural that, once foreign workers are accepted into Japanese society, their rights should be guaranteed and a comfortable working environment should be created for them. However, the reality is that Japan’s policy toward foreigners has become a one-sided management policy, and I feel that it is very distorted.

There are two types of specified technical skills: “No. 1,” whose period of stay is up to five years, and “No. 2,” whose period of stay is unlimited. In June, the government approved a cabinet decision to expand the scope of acceptance for No. 2 specified technical skills from the current two fields to 11 fields. In addition, the government’s expert panel is considering the abolition of the current technical internship system, which was designed to make “international contributions,” and the creation of a new system designed to “secure human resources and develop human resources.

In accepting foreign workers, the Immigration Bureau has given priority to whether it is easy to manage their entry, exit, and stay in Japan, and the rights and interests of foreign workers have not been fully considered.

This is why the system has been disadvantageous to foreign workers, causing problems such as infringement of their rights and prolongation of the examination process, which results in the continued absence of income. Even if the system is revised, I think similar problems will continue to occur unless the basic idea is changed.

The specified skilled worker system began in April 2007, and foreign workers in the specified skilled worker category 1 will gradually reach the end of their period of stay in Japan in April 2012 or later. It is clear that the purpose of the government’s decision to expand the number of foreign nationals accepted under the second category is to secure workers in industries where labor shortages are more serious by increasing the number of foreign nationals who move from the first to the second category.

The new “special skilled worker” visa allows for a virtually indefinite period of stay and the possibility of bringing family members. This will expand the number of permanent residence routes for foreign nationals, but the Japanese government has always had a policy of not accepting immigrants.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno stated at a press conference held at the stage when the government was considering expanding the number of Specified Technical Skills II, ‘We have no intention of adopting an immigration policy,'” said Mr. Matsuno.

Currently, there are over 3 million foreign nationals living in Japan and over 1.8 million foreign workers residing in Japan. Japan is already an immigrant nation on a significant scale. The government’s willingness to push through the “no immigration policy” line is probably to fend off opposition from the conservative faction of the Liberal Democratic Party, which is negative about the settlement of foreigners.

The results of the “2022 Upper House Election Questionnaire on Immigration Policy” also show the LDP’s reluctance to adopt an immigration policy (from a June 2010 survey by the NPO National Network in Solidarity with Migrants [Migrants’ Federation]).

Japan is a country “not worth going to work for.

According to the “Employment of Foreign Nationals” report released by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare as of the end of October 2010, Vietnam had the largest number of workers at 462,384, followed by China with 385,848. China and the Philippines followed with 385,848 and 206,050 workers, respectively.

According to the current “Foreign Employment Situation,” the number of workers in Vietnam is the largest, at 462,384, followed by China at 385,848, and the Philippines at 206,050. This is because China’s economic level has risen, and the economic benefits of working in Japan have diminished.

The largest number now comes from Vietnam, but when I ask the companies that accept them, they tell me that it is very difficult to find Vietnamese technical interns and people with specific skills. They say that the number of Vietnamese who choose to work in Japan is decreasing greatly in relation to the number needed by employers. I suppose the reasons are that there are no advantages to coming to Japan due to the weak yen, and that the acceptance system and working environment on the Japanese side are not good.”

Last year, a video of a Japanese man violently attacking a Vietnamese trainee in the workplace went viral. Vietnam has many Facebook users, and bad publicity spreads easily. The number of Vietnamese who want to work in Japan will naturally decrease.

As of the end of October 2010, there were approximately 1.82 million foreign workers in Japan. By nationality, Vietnamese accounted for the largest number, approximately 460,000. However, if bad publicity spreads on social networking sites about Japan’s acceptance system, it is inevitable that the number of Vietnamese workers will decrease.

Japan is now shifting its foreign worker intake to Cambodia and Myanmar, but if bad publicity is generated, the number of Vietnamese workers will also decrease. But if bad publicity is built up, it is obvious that the number will decrease as well.”

The labor shortage is not limited to Japan. It is inevitable that competition for human resources with foreign countries will intensify in the future. If this situation continues, Japan will not become a country of choice for foreign workers.

Until now, Japan was the country in Asia that could earn the most money. Recently, many people in Asia think that Korea is a better choice. Taiwan is also accepting foreign workers, and China should be accepting more and more in the future.

Japan is now ranked quite low in the overall Asian labor market. I am sure that the situation is very unfavorable for Japanese society.

Shoichi Ibusuki is a lawyer. He graduated from the University of Tsukuba in 1985 with a bachelor’s degree in comparative cultural studies and was admitted to the bar in 2007 (Daini Tokyo Bar Association). He is currently involved in immigration issues such as minors without status of residence, and also served as a defense lawyer for the bereaved family of Wishma Sandamali who died at the Nagoya Immigration Office. He is the author of “Disposable Foreigners: Japan, a Nation of Immigrants without Human Rights” (Choyokai).

  • Interview and text by Sayuri Saito

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