Japan has become a “poor country” abandoned by foreign workers | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Japan has become a “poor country” abandoned by foreign workers

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Foreign workers are starting to “leave Japan”…

Due to the new coronavirus, foreign technical trainees have been unable to come to Japan. In Japan, the host country, the number of trainees who have nowhere else to go is increasing due to dismissals, disappearances, and the difficulty of returning home.

On the other hand, there is a view that foreign workers are beginning to “leave Japan.

The government has announced a policy to bring 345,000 foreign nationals to Japan over the next five years, with the establishment of a new “special skills” visa status for employment purposes in 2019 as a result of the revision of the Immigration Control Act. But is Japan a country that can attract foreigners as a place to work?

What does Hideo Yara, author of the book “Underclass” (Shogakukan), which was published in 2020 and deals with the issue of foreign technical interns, think about the fact that foreign workers are leaving Japan?

I have a feeling that not more than 30 percent of the people in Japan share my sense of crisis,” he says (Photo: Kyodo News)

He has consistently focused on social issues such as food falsification, window dressing, and irregular labor, and one of the key figures in “Underclass” is a female Vietnamese technical intern. The following sentence appears in the book.

–In order to make up for the overwhelming shortage of labor force, Japan is using the sweet-sounding term “apprenticeship system” and overworking these people, which is unreasonable.

What motivated Mr. Siba to take up the issue of technical intern trainees?

I’ve been living in the middle of Shinjuku for 20 years now, and the number of foreign workers has increased dramatically in the past 7 or 8 years. In the past seven or eight years, the number of foreign workers has increased dramatically. More than half of the employees of the restaurant chain and the newspaper sales office in my neighborhood are foreigners. Why has the number increased so much? What’s behind it? A simple question arose in my mind.

As I researched how this country came to be in this situation, I realized that the Technical Internship System and the Immigration Control Act were revised in the name of supplementing the labor force, and people were recruited from overseas. I gradually began to see the deep-rooted structural problems.

The technical internship system was established in 1993. Since then, trainees from Asian countries have been accepted under the guise of “international contribution through technology transfer,” so that the skills and knowledge acquired in Japan can be utilized for the economic development of their home countries after they return to their home countries. But what is the reality? It has been pointed out that the trainees are only regarded as workers to make up for the shortage of labor in Japan, and there are many criticisms of the human rights aspect.

The situation is much better now, but there are still unscrupulous brokers, mainly in Southeast Asia. There are also Japanese brokers who take advantage of their clients.

Technical intern trainees come to Japan after being told by brokers that Japan is a good country and that they can earn a lot of money, almost like a scam. Is Japan a country worth coming to even if you have to borrow money for fees and travel expenses? That’s what I’m most aware of as a problem.

There has been an increase in the number of cases where trainees disappear because they are forced to work under poor working conditions and are unable to earn enough wages at their host companies to repay the debts they incurred before coming to Japan. There have been a series of dismissals and suspensions of trainees due to the Covid-19 disaster.

In addition, they are not allowed to return to their home countries. Normally, the government should provide a safety net and support system. But there are no measures in place.

Some people say that a drastic review of the policy is needed, such as abolishing the technical internship system and establishing a system to accept foreigners as official workers.

The Statistics Bureau of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications has released the results of its Labor Force Survey, and the working population in Japan is rapidly declining. Who is going to work in this country that will continue to decline? I think that Japan should take a bold step and adopt an immigration policy before the country becomes unviable.

However, the Japanese government has so far taken a cautious stance on immigration.

The Japanese government, however, has so far taken a cautious stance on immigration. But the Japanese government has so far taken a cautious stance on immigration. Japan is an island nation, so there must be strong allergies. I think the government is the most sneaky one.

Is Japan a country worth coming to work for for technical intern trainees? (Photo: Image: Afro)

It is more profitable to work properly in China than to do bad things in Japan…

According to a report released by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, the number of foreign nationals working in Japan as of October 2020 was approximately 1,724,000. Vietnam has the largest number of foreign workers, surpassing China with 25.7% of the total. The number of Chinese trainees, which used to be the largest, peaked in 2010 and has since declined. This seems to be due to the fact that wages in China have risen.

It’s a bad example, but the number of Chinese crime groups in Kabukicho 10 years ago has decreased. I’ve heard that it’s more profitable to get a decent job in their home country than to take a risk and do bad things in Japan, so they are going back.

As the number of jobs in the cities increases steadily in Vietnam, people in the rural areas will go to the cities in the country to work. Or if the pie of growth spreads to the rural areas, people will not have to come all the way to Japan to work.

When the Covid-19 subsides and the economies of each country return to normal, there will be an absolute need for labor within each country. I think it is normal to wonder what is the point of going into debt and having a bad time working in Japan. If that happens, the Japanese labor market will be hollowed out.

A Vietnamese technical intern who appears in “Underclass” says, “In Japan, salaries have been declining for a long time. A Vietnamese apprentice in “Underclass” says, “Salaries in Japan have been going down for a long time,” and “Japan is a country full of poor people.

A Singaporean friend of mine who just returned from Japan told me that lunch with his wife at a nearby hotel costs about 15,000 yen per person. I heard that Japanese companies used to be able to hire maids for their employees stationed in Singapore, but now the cost of living is so high that young employees have to send money from their parents’ home when they are assigned to Singapore.

In New York, a bowl of ramen is 2,500 yen. In New York, a bowl of ramen is 2,500 yen, and if you have a special bowl of ramen and a glass of beer, it can cost over 5,000 yen. That is the price level in the world. In short, the economy of the entire country is growing, and so are salaries. The average wage in the U.S. has almost doubled in the past 20 or 30 years.

In Japan, it has hardly changed at all. Rather, Japanese people’s wages are decreasing. We’re getting poorer.”

Vietnamese people who died in Japan are buried at Nisshinkutsu, a temple of the Pure Land sect of Buddhism, known as a “temple of refuge for Vietnamese people” (Photo: Afro)

I don’t think there are more than 30 percent of the people in Japan who share this sense of crisis.

But I’m not sure if the Japanese people are aware that Japan is becoming a poor country. ……

When I walk my dog early in the morning, I often see young kids with Uber Eats delivery bags on their backs lying on the ground, but both they and the individual drivers who deliver for Amazon are so-called day laborers. They live a life where if there is not a single delivery, they have no income for the day.

Nowadays, the number of full-time employees has decreased and 40% of them are non-regulars. In the food and beverage industry and passenger service industry, the non-regular workers are the first to be laid off or hired out. These people are now becoming gig workers, day laborers who take on one-time jobs.

I think this is a very bad situation for the country. Of course, there are people who are aware that it’s about to get bad. But my feeling is that not more than 30% of the population shares this sense of crisis.

Is there really a way out of this situation?

Is there really a way out of this situation? “For example, there should be a person like Soichiro Honda who develops a product that the whole world would love. Unless such an innovation occurs, I don’t think it is possible. When I was a reporter at a news agency, I worked in the economics department, so I have the ability to read statistics, but when I look at the data of many economic statistics, I can clearly see that there is no future for this country.

There have been several major recessions in the past. But in the end, the companies put up with it and forced the people to put up with it, and for 30 years the economy has been slowly going downhill, and salaries have not been cut in half. I think people’s senses have become numb because the same economic society with unchanging wages has continued for 30 years. The fact that my salary did not drop by a tenth was not good for me.

I’m not a pessimistic person, but when I look at the public data calmly, I see that this country is approaching its limits. That’s the message I put into “Underclass.

Underclass” was serialized in 2018-19, before the Covid-19 epidemic. The title at that time was “2025. In other words, it was about Japanese society in the year 2025.

I always write my works with the intention of depicting five or ten years in the future. However, reality catches up with me while I’m writing, and by the time the book comes out, reality has overtaken me, which has been the case for the past several works. I guess that’s how damaged this country is.

I tell my son who is studying in Canada not to come back to Japan because it is a country with no growth and low wages.

Even if we don’t see any eye-opening innovations, I hope that 2022 will be a little brighter.

The average wage in the U.S. has almost doubled in 30 years. The current situation in Japan is that 40% of the workforce is non-regular, and those who have been laid off or hired off due to the Covid-19 disaster are now gig workers, day laborers who take on one-off jobs…

Aiba Hideo, born in Niigata Prefecture in 1967, joined Jiji Press as a key puncher in 1989 and became a reporter in the Economics Department in 1995, covering foreign exchange, interest rates, and derivatives issues. In 2005, he made his debut as a writer, winning the 2nd Diamond Economic Novel Award for “Default: Debt Default. The following year, he left Jiji Press to pursue writing. He has written many books, including “Trembling Cow,” “Blood Trails,” and “Unexploded Bombs,” which were made into dramas, as well as “Galapagos,” “Blood Drops,” “Exit,” and “Redneck. His latest book is “Mammoth Shells,” about the after-care industry in Covid-19.

  • Interviewed and written by Sayuri Saito

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