Asahi: Japanese living abroad plan unprecedented lawsuit demanding dual citizenship. Bravo!

mytest

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Hi Blog. Here’s something interesting and something to support if you are a Japanese living abroad — the maintenance of your legal identity in the form of dual nationality.

The Asahi reports that several Japanese citizens in Europe unprecedentedly plan to sue the government to abolish the law forcing Japanese to pick one nationality if they take another. Some emigres also want to undo the damage and restore their Japanese nationality.

Naturally, Debito.org wholeheartedly supports this effort.  For too long the embedded binary of “you’re either Japanese or you’re not” (an Ichi-ro or a Ze-ro) has done untold social damage to people of multiple ethnicities and identities.  Nobody in power has ever really listened to them, so now it’s time for the monoethnic Japanese abroad, who want inclusivity for their newfound diversity, to take up the charge.

Here’s hoping they get heard.  Because others who have championed this sort of thing (such as MP Kouno Taro nearly a decade ago) got nowhere even in their own ruling political party.  Enough Japanese already have dual.  Let’s have the law reflect reality (and not institutionalize identity policing) at last.  Dr. Debito Arudou

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Japanese abroad plan first lawsuit demanding dual citizenship
By ICHIRO MATSUO/ Correspondent
The Asahi Shinbun, February 26, 2018
http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201802260042.html

PHOTO CAPTION: Hitoshi Nogawa, a Japanese-born citizen in Basel, Switzerland, holds his now invalid Japanese passport in Geneva on Feb. 13. The Japanese government refused to renew it in 2015 after he gained Swiss citizenship. (Ichiro Matsuo)

GENEVA–Japanese residing in Europe plan to file a lawsuit demanding the right to dual citizenship, arguing that the Japanese law that forces people to pick only one nationality are outdated, unconstitutional and invalid.

The lawsuit, to be filed against the government at the Tokyo District Court next month, will be the first litigation of its kind, according to the legal team of the eight would-be plaintiffs, who include Japanese living in Switzerland and France.

Six of them have been granted foreign citizenship and want to restore their Japanese nationality.

However, Section 1 in Article 11 of the Nationality Law stipulates that if “a Japanese citizen acquires the nationality of a foreign country at his/her choice, he/she loses Japanese nationality.”

The remaining two want to confirm that they can keep their Japanese citizenship even if they obtain a foreign nationality.

Teruo Naka, a lawyer for the group, says it is unreasonable for Japanese to lose their nationality at a time when they have growing opportunities to live and work regardless of national borders.

“The plaintiffs are hoping to keep their Japanese nationality out of an attachment to Japan and ties with their relatives living in Japan,” he said.

The plaintiffs are expected to argue in court that Section 1 in Article 11 was originally established to prevent the granting of multiple citizenship from the perspective of compulsory military service when the 1890 Constitution of the Empire of Japan was in effect. That clause was automatically passed into the current Nationality Law, which became effective in 1950, after the postwar Constitution took effect in 1947.

Sovereignty rested with the emperor under the previous Constitution, known as the Meiji Constitution. The current Constitution upholds sovereignty of the people.

They will also argue that a wide disparity has grown between the ideal of a single nationality, championed since the Meiji Era (1868-1912), and the current realities of globalization.

The group will also contend that the right to retain Japanese nationality is guaranteed under articles of the current Constitution.

Article 13 of the postwar Constitution, for example, guarantees the right to the pursuit of happiness, they said. Paragraph 2 of Article 22, they noted, states, “Freedom of all persons to move to a foreign country and to divest themselves of their nationality shall be inviolate.”

Unlike in the United States and some European countries, where residents can hold more than one citizenship, the Japanese law still pushes for a single nationality.

Individuals with dual or multiple citizenship, such as children born to Japanese and foreign nationals, are required to select one nationality by the age of 22 under the Nationality Law. Their numbers have increased in recent years with the rise in international marriages in Japan.

If Japanese citizens obtain a foreign nationality through, for example, an international marriage, they are legally obliged to renounce either the foreign or Japanese nationality within two years.

But there is no clause that penalizes those who do not come forward to announce their decision.

“Only those who honestly declare their selection in compliance with the law lose their Japanese nationality,” one of the plaintiffs said.

It is common for Japanese families overseas to acquire the citizenship of their host country for business or employment opportunities.

Hitoshi Nogawa, 74, who leads the plaintiffs and serves as head of the Japanese community in Basel, Switzerland, said he needed Swiss citizenship to enable his company to participate in defense-related public works projects in the country.

Another plaintiff said it is common practice for Japanese expatriates to use their Japanese passports only when they return and leave Japan. Inside their host country, they use the citizenship they have acquired there for business.

It is widely believed that many Japanese with dual citizenship have not declared their status. But not coming forward can lead to problems.

In 2016, questions arose about the nationality of Renho, an Upper House member who then headed the main opposition party. She was born in Japan to a Taiwanese father and Japanese mother, and doubts were raised that she had renounced her Taiwanese citizenship under the Nationality Law. She produced documents showing she did so in 2016.

According to the Foreign Ministry, about 460,000 Japanese with resident status were living overseas as of October 2016. It was not clear how many of them actually held more than one nationality.

Justice Ministry statistics showed that the number of Japanese who renounced their Japanese nationality after selecting a foreign citizenship or for other reasons ranged from 700 to 1,000 annually between 2012 and 2016.
========================
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Wash Post: South Korea’s naturalized athletes in the PyeongChang Olympics; beyond treated as mercenaries?

mytest

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Hi Blog. While the PyeongChang Olympics are still going on, let’s talk about how national borders are being broken down in the name of enhancing national sporting prowess.

As per the Washington Post article below, South Korea has been converting foreigners into Korean Olympic athletes with the stroke of the bureaucratic pen.  Thus it is unclear at this point how much of a dent they will make on the national self-image of what it means “to be a Korean”.  If they don’t win (which, sadly, they won’t), then it’s doubtful they will be anything more than an unsuccessful means to an end, an asterisk in the annals of Korean sports.

But if they are accepted nevertheless as “true Koreans” (as opposed to mercenaries; and there is a positive precedent with naturalized citizen Lee Charm/Bernhard Quandt becoming South Korea’s National Tourism Organization leader in 2009; until, ahem, he stepped down in 2013 due to a sex scandal), Debito.org will be among the first to cheer.  Especially since South Korea, unlike Japan, allows for some form of dual nationality.

In a similar vein, Japan too has made “instant Japanese” for the purpose of strengthening Japan’s international sports showings, and the fielding of athletes of international roots who didn’t make teams overseas.  And there have been some wins on their part.  But the outlook is not good:  Beyond someone like the (legendary but nasty) baseball player Oh Sadaharu, and some famous Sumo wrestlers (who nowadays aren’t even officially counted as “Japanese” anyway), who remembers them?  Dr. Debito Arudou

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Can you sing the anthem? Okay, you can play hockey for South Korea
By Chico Harlan, The Washington Post, February 11, 2018
https://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/olympics/can-you-sing-the-anthem-okay-you-can-play-hockey-for-south-korea/2018/02/11/fe63fa36-0ef6-11e8-8b0d-891602206fb7_story.html

PHOTO CAPTION: Seven of the South Korean men’s hockey team members are foreign-born, including six from Canada.

GANGNEUNG, South KoreaNot long after South Korea was chosen to host these Winter Olympics, as officials spoke openly about setting new medal records and showing off the country’s growing winter sports prowess to the world, a humbling reality set in:

South Korea was going to have to field a men’s ice hockey team.

At that point, the country’s all-time Winter Olympic hockey record was 0-0. Its national team was ranked neck-and-neck with North Korea. The country had a nonexistent hockey tradition, a thin pool of talent and just a few years to draw up a plan that would save itself from embarrassment.

Player by player, the results of that plan stepped Sunday night onto the ice, where the team’s latest practice kicked off with a goalie skating out from the locker room, wristing a puck at an angle and saying, in English, “These boards are bouncy.” Soon the whole team was on the ice, circling and taking slap shots, and somebody yelled, “Whooo, nice one.” Finally the coach settled at center ice, calling everybody toward the red line to take a knee. Every word of his was in English. “Bring it in, bring it in,” he said.

In a bid to upgrade its hockey program in fast-forward, one of the world’s most homogenous countries has created one of the most foreign-heavy Olympic teams of all time. Among 25 players on the South Korean men’s hockey team in PyeongChang, seven were born in other countries, including six in Canada. South Korea has 19 foreign-born athletes competing for it in these Olympics, most of any country, with hockey accounting for the largest share.

The men, so far, have gotten far less attention than their South Korean female hockey counterparts. The men, unlike the women, have no eye-catching diplomatic narrative. They don’t share a roster with any North Koreans. They won’t draw synchronized cheerleaders to their games. Instead, they prepare in near-empty arenas — and draw only three or four media members to their practices.

The imported men’s players are less mercenaries than converts, granted naturalized Korean citizenship even though they have no Korean blood. To get that opportunity, they had to play at least two seasons for Korean clubs in a pan-Asian hockey league. And then meet with national hockey officials. And then national Olympic officials. And then the country’s Ministry of Justice.

Oh, and then they had to take a test and sing the national anthem.

“Then, you find out if you pass or not,” said Eric Regan, a defenseman from Ontario, who naturalized in 2016. “I was with Matt Dalton, the goalie, at the time. We went through the process together and we both passed along with, I think, two other biathletes that day — both Russians. A month later we’re playing in the world championships for Team Korea. It was wild.”

The plan to boost South Korea’s competence began in 2014, with the hiring of a coach. The coach was Jim Paek, the first Korean-born player to make the National Hockey League. He had won a Stanley Cup championship in the early 1990s with the Pittsburgh Penguins, skating alongside Mario Lemieux. Several months after his hiring, the International Ice Hockey Federation announced that South Korea — having shown enough commitment to its program — would get an automatic bid, becoming one of 12 teams in the Olympic tournament. Traditionally, host countries receive automatic bids.

To hear Paek tell it, the national team recruited foreigners not from all over the world but rather from its own doorstep, targeting foreigners already playing in South Korea. For years, a handful of borderline NHL prospects had landed in the Asia League, a 15-year-old hockey league that spans four countries and has had 15 teams — seven of which have dissolved. Teams in Korea attract players by offering modest perks: a car, a tax-free salary, an apartment with heated floors. “I literally live in a building called Samsung,” said Mike Testwuide, a U.S.-born player on the Korean team.

It was these players that Paek began to recruit.

A few were already naturalized citizens. Others, Paek pitched on the idea.

He told them the Olympics were coming up, and that they could help.

“I didn’t hesitate, really,” Testwuide said. “It’s about showing that Korea has a serious hockey program.”

Paek said scouting players for his national team was relatively easy. The talent pool was so thin that it didn’t take much time.

“I don’t know if that’s lucky or not,” he said.

At least two of Korea’s current players, Bryan William Young and Alex Plante, have logged a couple of shifts in the NHL. The goalie, Dalton, dressed for a few games as a Boston Bruins backup. The player who has spent the most time in Korea, Brock Radunske, has played more than 350 games in the Asia League — and stands at 6-foot-5, nicknamed the Canadian Big Beauty.

The team begins play Thursday and is matched in a group with Canada, Switzerland and the Czech Republic — countries with a combined 27 medals in men’s hockey. South Korea’s Yonhap news agency wrote recently that a “winless performance isn’t entirely out of the question.” But Paek disagreed.

“We work really hard, and our expectation is, we’re prepared to win a game,” he said. “To win every game we play.”
ENDS

============================

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Wash Post: “NBC apologizes to Koreans for Olympics coverage praising Japan’s brutal occupation”, rightly so

mytest

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Hi Blog. PyeongChang.  It’s Olympics time again, and, as long-time readers know, I’m a fan of the athleticism but not the nationalism (and inevitable comparisons of strengths and weaknesses along national lines) that is endemic to bordered sports. Too many people compete for glory as representatives of whole societies, not for individual bests, and that particularly takes a toll on Japan’s athletes.

I’ve been a relentless critic of Japan’s sports commentary, but now that I’m watching it in the US, fair game. I was quite incandescent with rage at times listening to NBC’s stupid, overgeneralizing, and often borderline racist commentary of the Opening Ceremonies. (One of the most annoying was when Katie Couric noted how internet addiction is allegedly a problem in South Korea, and used it as a segue into a shameless plug of her upcoming show on internet addiction in America; and this relates to the Olympics how!?)

Fortunately, I was not alone, and Korea protested not only the overgeneralizations, but also the ahistorical comments that were ill-considered. Fortunately, NBC apologized (and told the press that the offending commentator’s “assignment is over”), which is better than I’ve ever seen NHK do for its nasty coverage. Here’s the Washington Post on the issue. Dr. Debito Arudou

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NBC apologizes to Koreans for Olympics coverage that praised Japan’s brutal occupation
By Avi Selk February 11, 2017
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/arts-and-entertainment/wp/2018/02/11/nbc-apologizes-to-koreans-for-olympics-coverage-that-praised-japans-brutal-occupation/

Friday’s Opening Ceremonies for the Winter Olympics in South Korea were, by most accounts, spectacular. NBC’s coverage of the spectacle, on the other hand, was considered hit and miss. Occasionally disastrous.

It wasn’t so much the hosts, Katie Couric and Mike Tirico, who annoyed critics, but rather the network’s analyst, Joshua Cooper Ramo.

Slate wrote that Ramo’s commentary amounted to bland trivia about Asia “seemingly plucked from hastily written social studies reports” — such as his observation that white and blue flags stood for North and South Korean unity. Variety compared his commentary to a Wikipedia article.

But Ramo’s big misstep came when he noticed Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan in the crowd and offered what he knew about the country’s history with Korea.

Japan was “a country which occupied Korea from 1910 to 1945,” Ramo said, correctly (though he did not mention that historians say the Japanese army forced tens of thousands of Koreans into sex slavery.)

“But,” Ramo continued, “every Korean will tell you that Japan as a cultural and technological and economic example has been so important to their own transformation.”

This was definitely not correct. Every Korean did not agree that Japanese colonialism had its upside. In fact, thousands signed a petition demanding that NBC apologize for Ramo’s statement.

“His incorrect and insensitive comment about Korea’s history has enraged many of its people,” the Korea Times observed.

“Some say it’s questionable whether Ramo has been even following the news leading up to the current Olympics, as some of the disputes between South Korea and Japan erupted even during the preparation phase of the games,” the Korea Herald added, mentioning as an example the unified Korean flag that Ramo liked so much.

In fact, the Herald reported, an earlier flag design had outraged Japan because it included a group of islets still claimed by both countries.

Japan and South Korea have not even fully reconciled over atrocities committed during the occupation. While the Japanese government has expressed remorse and set up a fund in the 1990s to help victims it once referred to as “comfort women,” some politicians and academics claim estimates of 200,000 sex slaves are exaggerated. Many South Koreans, in turns, compare those skeptics to Holocaust deniers.

The morning after the Opening Ceremonies, NBC apologized for Ramo’s remarks. “We understand the Korean people were insulted by these comments,” an anchor said during a Saturday broadcast, according to MSN.

In a statement to The Washington Post, NBC Sports said that the network also apologized in writing and that “we’re very gratified that [the PyeongChang Olympics] has accepted that apology.”

Yahoo Sports reported this was the second time that Ramo, who co-directs a think tank founded by former secretary of state Henry Kissinger, has appeared as an Olympics analyst for NBC. He shared an Emmy Award for his commentary during Beijing’s Summer Games in 2008.

Ramo could not be immediately reached for comment. An NBC official told The Post that his assignment is over.
ENDS
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Kyodo: Official stats on NJ “Trainee” work deaths & accidents; 2x higher than J worker deaths, and likely understated

mytest

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Guidebookcover.jpgjapaneseonlyebookcovertextHandbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)sourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumbFodorsJapan2014cover
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Hi Blog.  Finally, a quarter-century into the horrible government-sponsored NJ “Trainee” program, the GOJ is now releasing actual hard statistics about the people it is killing.  And you can see why it took so long — the numbers are shameful enough to warrant a cover-up:  Between 2014 and 2017, 22 NJ died (almost all due to workplace accidents, but at least one was probably being worked to death).  This is more than twice the on-job fatality rate for J workers.  There were also 475 cases of serious accidents to NJ “Trainees”, and, as activists point out below, this figure is probably understated.

A contrarian might argue that NJ are just accident-prone.  But as the article describes below, working conditions are simply awful, not to mention generally illegal.  And as as Debito.org has pointed out repeatedly over the decades, “the program is rife with abuse: exploitation under sweatshop conditions, restrictions on movement, unsafe workplaces, uncompensated work and work-site injuries, bullying and violence, physical and mental abuse, sexual harassment, death from overwork and suicideeven slavery and murder.

“Things have not improved in recent years. The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry announced that about 70 percent of some 5,200 companies that accepted trainees in 2015 violated laws, and in 2016 a record 4,004 employers engaged in illegal activities. The program is so rotten that even the United Nations demanded Japan scrap it.” (From Japan Times, Jan. 3, 2018, Item 4)

Anyway, let’s celebrate that we have some official statistics at last, for without them, it’s easy to see why this program can keep going for a quarter-century with little political traction to improve it.  Dr. Debito Arudou

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Foreign trainee fatality data highlight safety and exploitation issues in Japan
KYODO NEWS/JAPAN TIMES JAN 15, 2018
https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/01/14/national/social-issues/foreign-trainee-fatality-data-highlight-safety-exploitation-issues-japan/

Work-related incidents killed 22 foreign trainees over a three-year period from fiscal 2014, according to government data, illustrating the risk that laborers brought to Japan will face dangerous or exploitative conditions.

While most of the 22 deaths are believed to have been caused by accidents, one was the result of karōshi (death by overwork), the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry said Sunday.

The ministry’s figures are the first government statistics to be released on work-related deaths among foreign trainees in Japan.

During the three-year period, there were on average 475 cases of work-related accidents per year that were subject to compensation via industrial accident insurance and which required four or more days of leave for such workers, the data showed.

The ratio of work-related deaths for foreign trainees was significantly higher than the ratio for all workers.

The government introduced the oft-criticized training program for foreign workers in 1993 with the apparent aim of transferring Japanese know-how to developing countries. But the program, applicable to agriculture and manufacturing among other sectors, has drawn criticism at home and abroad as a cover for importing cheap labor.

Cases of illegally long working hours, unpaid wages, violence and other harsh conditions have also been reported.

According to the Justice Ministry, foreign trainees are on the rise, with 167,641 logged in 2014, 192,655 in 2015 and 228,589 in 2016. Given the 22 deaths over the three-year period, the ratio of work-related deaths works out to roughly 3.7 deaths per 100,000 trainees.

For the nation as a whole, labor ministry data show that the tally for work-related deaths in all industries came to 2,957, or 1.7 deaths per 100,000 workers.

Akira Hatate, director of the Japan Civil Liberties Union and an expert on the trainee system, points out that there could be more cases involving foreign trainees due to the government’s lax reporting standards.

He said work-related accidents are more frequent among non-Japanese because they are “unfamiliar with Japanese workplaces (and) as they are usually working for small and midsize companies that give little consideration to safety and health in the workplace. Trainees (also) cannot communicate fluently in Japanese.”

“There are also cases where trainees, who cannot work due to an injury, are forced to return home. Concealment of work-related accidents is rampant,” Hatate said.

In one case of misconduct, a Vietnamese man who was injured on the job said his employer pocketed his insurance payments. The 23-year-old man came to Japan in July 2015 to work at a construction firm in Tokyo. With no prior experience in carpentry, he worked at residential construction sites and his monthly take-home pay was around ¥120,000.

The trainee said he was injured in May 2016 when his thumb was accidentally nailed by a machine. He was hospitalized for five days and after being discharged rested for only one day. The next day he resumed work with his thumb in a bandage. A year later he injured his palm during unloading work.

Even while he was working, his company filed for workers’ compensation, saying the man took a long-term absence and cited a medical certificate stating he required three months to recover.

Roughly ¥900,000 was transferred to the man’s bank account, but the employer told him the money was not his and demanded that he hand it over. The Vietnamese trainee said he was robbed of ¥220,000 in total.

Due to his lack of experience in the field and poor Japanese skills, the man often made mistakes. The president would yell at him to return to his country, and at one point, forced him to kneel and bow in dogeza fashion, an extreme way of apologizing by bowing deeply until the forehead touches the floor.

The man said he endured the mistreatment because he was about ¥1.4 million in debt to various entities, including the agency in Vietnam that got him into the program. He returned to Vietnam last month.

“I wanted to continue working, but I cannot do that under that president,” the man said. Until the end, the president offered no apology, he said.

Shiro Sasaki, secretary-general of the Zentoitsu Workers Union and well-versed on trainee issues, said, “Foreign nationals do not know about the workers’ compensation system, and there are many firms which think that things could just be settled by having the trainees return to their homeland.”

According to Sasaki, the way these firms treat their foreign trainees would never be acceptable to Japanese workers.

The latest data came to light as the government moves to expand the scope of the system amid a nationwide labor shortage and political resistance to boosting immigration.

Under a new law that took effect in November, nursing care was added to the list of fields in which foreign trainees can work. The change was made as firms struggle to overcome an acute shortage of care workers in an industry that is becoming all the more important amid the rapid graying of the population.
ENDS
=======================

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