JT: GOJ Cabinet approves new NJ worker visa categories. Small print: Don’t bring your families. Or try to escape.

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Hi Blog. As per the JT article below, the next wave of NJ temp labor has been officially approved by the Abe Cabinet. The new statuses mostly still have the caveat of being temp, unrooted labor (bringing over families is expressly verboten).  And you can qualify for something better if you manage to last, oh, ten years — around one-fifth of a person’s total productive working life.  Because, as the JT reported in a follow-up article days later, time spent working under these visa statuses in particular does NOT count towards their required “working period” when applying for Permanent Residency.

Another interesting part of this article is the bit about how many Indentured “Trainee” NJ workers had “gone missing” from their generally harsh modern-slavery working conditions (4,279) so far this year, and how it might even exceed last year’s record total of 7,089.  Anyway, with the news below, the GOJ looks set to invite in even more people, in even more work sectors, and with the regular “revolving-door” work status (i.e., not make immigrants out of them).

Some people have gotten wise to this practice and are staying away from Japan, but I bet many won’t.  Unless we let them know in venues like Debito.org.  Dr. Debito Arudou

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Japan’s Cabinet approves bill to introduce new visa categories for foreign workers, to address shrinking workforce
BY SAKURA MURAKAMI AND TOMOHIRO OSAKI STAFF WRITERS
The Japan Times, Nov 2, 2018, courtesy of JDG (excerpt)
Courtesy https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/11/02/national/major-policy-shift-japan-oks-bill-let-foreign-manual-workers-stay-permanently/

The Cabinet approved a bill Friday that would overhaul the nation’s immigration control law by introducing new visa categories for foreign workers, in an attempt to address the graying population and shrinking workforce.

“Creating a new residence status to accept foreign workers is of utmost importance as the nation’s population declines and businesses suffer from lack of personnel,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at a news conference on the day.

Although details remain hazy, the new bill marks a departure from previous policy in allowing foreign individuals to work in blue-collar industries for a potentially indefinite amount of time if certain conditions, such as holding a valid employment contract, are met.

Yet amid concerns over whether the nation has the infrastructure and environment to accommodate an inflow of foreign workers, the government has categorically denied that the overhaul will open the doors to immigrants.

“We are not adopting a policy on people who will settle permanently in the country, or so-called immigrants,” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told the Lower House Budget Committee on Thursday. “The new system we are creating is based on the premise that the workers will work in sectors suffering labor shortages, for a limited time, in certain cases without bringing their families.”…

The overhaul, which would come into effect in April if passed during the current extraordinary Diet session, would create two new residence status types for foreign individuals working in sectors suffering labor shortages.

The first category would be renewable for up to five years and would require applicants to have a certain level of skill and experience in their fields. As a general rule, workers in this category would not be allowed to bring family members into the country.

The second category would be renewable indefinitely for workers with valid employment contracts. This category would require a higher level of skills than the first category and would allow workers to bring along spouses and children.

Regardless of the category, the foreign workers would be required to work in designated sectors that face labor shortages. Some 14 sectors are being considered for designation in the first category, whereas five are being considered for the second, media reports have said. Those sectors include the construction, agriculture and hotel industries.

Opposition lawmakers have slammed the apparent haste with which the government is trying to pass the amendment, proposing that it prioritize rectifying the current Technical Intern Training Program — which is rife with allegations of human rights violations and abuse — before further expanding avenues for foreign labor.

Speaking to the same Lower House Budget Committee on Thursday, Justice Minister Yamashita revealed that a total 4,279 trainees under the program had gone missing in the January-July period this year.

“This is an extraordinary figure,” said lawmaker Akira Nagatsuma of the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, adding that the pace suggests the number of missing interns in 2018 could exceed last year’s record — 7,089 — by year-end.

Nagatsuma also said that the whereabouts of many of these trainees who disappeared from work remain unknown, with Justice Ministry data showing that there were 6,914 such individuals staying somewhere in the country, under the radar, as of January this year. “I believe that this year will also see a substantial number of missing trainees in total, but I don’t think we should blame the foreign nationals who ran away in all of these cases. I’m sure there are lots of cases where the trainees felt they had to get away, or even thought they might die if they stayed,” Nagatsuma said, citing examples of trainees being harassed or bullied, cooped up in a cramped apartment and consigned to menial jobs that require no technical skills.

“I think it’s very irresponsible of the government to try to open more doors for foreign workers while turning a blind eye to these existing problems under the trainee program,” he said.

Opposition lawmakers also say the government’s claim that it will set rigid, high-bar criteria for transition from the first visa type to the second — lest the system be misconstrued as Japan shifting toward accepting immigrants — might not sit well with the nation’s business community.

In a hearing with multiple ministries earlier this week, Kazunori Yamanoi, a lawmaker for the opposition Democratic Party For the People (DPFP), raised a hypothetical, but highly likely, situation in which trainees recruited under the existing internship program switch to the new visa framework after up to five years of their apprenticeships.

Under this scenario, these foreign workers will have stayed in Japan for a total 10 years by the time their visa expires after another five years. “By then, those foreign workers with 10 years of experience in Japan will have developed such seasoned skills that they may even hold critical positions in their companies … and I would imagine company employers wanting them to transition to the second-category visa so they can stay on,” Yamanoi said.

A Justice Ministry official, when contacted by The Japan Times, said it is “theoretically possible” that these workers with 10 years of experience in Japan would qualify for permanent residency, but how the reality will play out is still uncertain…

Full article at https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/11/02/national/major-policy-shift-japan-oks-bill-let-foreign-manual-workers-stay-permanently/

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15 comments on “JT: GOJ Cabinet approves new NJ worker visa categories. Small print: Don’t bring your families. Or try to escape.

      • You know, this whole schizophrenic attitude to NJ (we need your skills! Don’t let the door hit you on the way out!) kind of reminds me of the end of Atlas Shrugged, where the corrupt vested interest guys have got John Galt in the electric chair and threaten to kill him if he doesn’t save them; he’s got no incentive to do so, and they are screwed if they do but unable to reason that point.

        Reply
        • They just want our stuff, not us per se. Local clueless “creative” agencies want our ideas, for free is possible. And then come up with an imitation so they can say “look! we Japanese can do the same thing! We are members of your (G7) Crub! In fact we are leader in this field, stop laughing shut up”
          Remember this book, “Working in Japan” (1990) said “just because the Japanese like western culture, products and music does not mean they will like or need you, the westerner”. Coleman (Black Tokyo, Japan Times) came to the same realization when he felt a Hip Hop shop didn’t give him the respect he felt due.

          Its all about the stuff, not the Human Rights.

          Reply
  • Ughh, I’m rolling my eyes so hard right now.
    Japan needs NJ slaves desperately, but…oh! What about the noise? What about the garbage disposal? Who’s going to indoctrinate them into Japanese ‘ways’? Again!
    Balancing those concerns against Japan’s economic and demographic timebomb…well, it’s obviously a much harder decision that I’d thought.

    https://japantoday.com/category/national/Hope-anxiety-in-Japan-over-opening-up-to-more-foreign-workers

    Reply
    • If history is anything to go by, then the Japanese psych is extremely hard to change. That is, Japan will more likely than not, will wait for sometime until and after the demographic and economic timebomb implodes itself. I am assuming that Japan will just try to “deal with it”, given their often fatalist view of life.

      I don’t have high hopes for Japan to change their approach to NJ immigration.

      They also have this mentality of preferring to stay on route and enduring rather than picking a different path. Such is the mentality that surrounds the “gaman” attitude. Kind of like their soccer game performance, that is, to play to lose rather than plan a winning strategy.

      Thinking back to Japan’s war-time era I remember seeing some old WWII footage on History Channel a while back about where Hirohito was infamous for making the saying “To bare the unbearable” in his speech when Japan decided to finally surrender. Facial expressions and body language of commoners listening to the surrender speech was also shown, and I get the feeling that they feel more hurt by Japan having to surrender rather than by the threat of total annihilation.

      Some nationalists where caught trying to assassinate the emperor in hopes of preventing Japan’s surrender. On top of that you have the occasional soldier that continues to fight, the stragglers that refused to surrender and people committing suicide.

      It seems that survival was not a priority for some, and people with this mentality will not give a damn about about a demographic and or economic timebomb waiting to implode anytime and cannot be persuaded by any logic or reasoning.

      If anything, Japan’s willpower and endurance to hardship is truly a force to be reckoned with. In a metaphorical sense, Japan is kind of like the black knight from Monty Python’s holy grail. As in, even if Japan’s economy collapses, they will only brush it off as “tis just a mere flesh wound”, or at least try to anyway. Many Japanese will just gaman for the sake of gaman and are unlikely going to think about other alternatives.

      As such, I am always a bit curious as to what the possibilities are for the Japanese had Commodore Perry not visited Japan. Will the peasants try to storm Edo Castle via French Revolution style or will they just suck it up regardless of how bad things will get?

      Of course given modern lifestyle even at its current state is better than the Edo era lifestyle at its worse, it will probably take a lot more hardship and pain to convince Japan to change progressively in anyway. A demographic or economic timebomb or two just isn’t going to convince them.

      In my opinion, I believe that an economic collapse isn’t enough to convince Japan to change, just like Japan’s surrender isn’t enough to stop some Japanese from fighting, especially the wartime stragglers, like the infamous Hiroo Onoda. If anything we can learn from this, is that Japan’s willingness to endure any hardship even if its for a pointless cause, is something that we should never underestimate.

      Maybe some people will say its not fair to compare Japan during wartime with “modern” Japan, but in Japan’s case I feel it is because the country never went through the same de-nazification process as Germany did. Moreover, you have war criminals and or descendants of war criminals that were put back in power in all faucets of Japanese society to ensure that the mentality of old stays.

      In fact maybe the nationalists will use the economic crisis of their own making to justify “taking back japan” to its past of militarist rule. Even though the great depression of 1929 wasn’t of Japan’s making, the ultra-nationalists used it as an excuse to blame democracy and capitalism for Japan’s failure.

      The J-media does romanticize the Edo era a lot, maybe to soften up the populace for a militarist style rule?

      Reply
    • Post (soft) Fascism again. Kempetai style arbritary arrests on suspicion, but this time balanced with a softly softly approach due to international pressure (tho presented as homegrown humanitarians) as we heard at the UN, “Japan is one of the leaders in Human Rights/ Stop laughing, shut up”.

      Reply
    • Indeed, this is just the Japanese version of the recent Canadian arrest of a Chinese business person; possibly politically motivated. Its increasingly being used as a weapon.

      Reply
  • Very interesting article;

    https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/12/15/national/japan-wants-foreign-workers-may-not-want-japan-poll/

    NJ don’t want to work in Japan according to survey. Even if there were no visa requirements, no language requirements and freedom of movement, NJ coming to Japan would only increase total population of Japan by 1%.

    Interesting is that almost 60% of Japanese think the current level of NJ working in Japan is ‘just right’. I imagine that’s almost the same 60% that would say there are ‘too many’ NJ in Japan even if Abe could put together an attractive package for NJ workers.

    Reply

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