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article imageForeign workers in Japan to reach 1 million this year

By Lucky Malicay     Apr 3, 2016 in Business
Tokyo - Japan has recorded a huge increase in the number of foreign workers, expecting the figure to reach one million this year.
At the end of October 2015, there are 910,000 foreigners working in Japan and the number is expected to increase further this year as the country grows more dependent on overseas workers.
According to a report from the Kyodo News, the Chinese account for 35.5 percent of the nation’s foreign workers, followed by the Vietnamese, Filipinos and Brazilians. Other nationalities are also increasing in number.
Japan is one of the world’s most developed countries that have strict rules on the employment of foreigners. Its government does not allow permanent settlement for overseas workers.
But because of the shrinking population and the need for companies to globalize, the present administration and the business community see the need to hire more foreign workers to meet the increasing labor demands.
Last month, the Liberal Democratic Party of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had launched a committee that would explore solutions to the problem on labor shortages in the country. These solutions include proposals to ease employment requirements and to grant resident status to foreigners with no special skills.
At the Diet (parliament), lawmakers are also debating a bill that grants resident status to foreign workers in “nursing care” services.
Under an immigration law, foreigners working in housekeeping services are excluded from attaining a resident status. They are only illegible if their employers comply with certain requirements under a revised law, which took effect in September 2015.
Non-Japanese seeking to work in the tourism industry as well as in the areas of information and technology also stand to benefit from the government move to ease employment requirements.
But an expert says foreign workers should also enjoy the same labor rights as their Japanese counterparts.
“The root of the problem is that although the government needs foreign workers, it isn’t offering necessary welfare or ensuring their human rights,” Lillian Terumi Hatano, an associate professor of sociology at Kindai University in Osaka, was reported by the Japan Times as saying.
“The government should make it clear if it is going to accept foreign workers as part of the Japanese society or not.”
She said many foreign nationals are forced to work under unsafe environment, adding the government failed to provide the proper assistance.
“Even though they work for many years, they won’t be allowed to become regular workers (with benefits). They end up moving from job to job or are forced to work night shifts and longer hours” which could force their children to transfer schools and make it difficult for them to adapt,” Hatano said.
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