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  • GOJ bribes Nikkei NJ with Golden Parachutes: Go home and don’t come back

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on April 2nd, 2009

    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「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)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatar
    Hi Blog.  Here’s the ultimate betrayal:  Hey Gaijin, er, Nikkei!  Here’s a pile of money.  Leave and don’t come back.  So what if it only applies to people with Japanese blood (not, for example, Chinese).  And so what if we’ve invited you over here for up to two decades, taken your taxes and most of your lives over here as work units, and fired you first when the economy went sour.  Just go home.  You’re now a burden on Us Japanese.  You don’t belong here, regardless of how much you’ve invested in our society and saved our factories from being priced out of the market.  You don’t deserve our welfare, job training, or other social benefits that are entitled to real residents and contributors to this country.

    Why did I have the feeling this was coming?  Arudou Debito back in Sapporo

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

    (Article courtesy of lots of people, thanks!)

    Original Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare proposal in Japanese, courtesy of Silvio:

    http://www.mhlw.go.jp/houdou/2009/03/dl/h0331-10a.pdf

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

    Japan gives cash to jobless foreigners to go home

    (Mainichi Japan and Japan Today) April 1, 2009

    http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/news/20090401p2g00m0dm008000c.html

    and

    http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/govt-to-pay-travel-costs-of-returning-workers-with-japanese-ancestry

    TOKYO (AP) — Japan began offering money Wednesday for unemployed foreigners of Japanese ancestry to go home, mostly to Brazil and Peru, to stave off what officials said posed a serious unemployment problem.

    Thousands of foreigners of Japanese ancestry, who had been hired on temporary or referral contracts, have lost their jobs recently, mostly at manufacturers such as Toyota Motor Corp. and its affiliates, which are struggling to cope with a global downturn.

    The number of foreigners seeking government help to find jobs has climbed in recent months to 11 times the previous year at more than 9,000 people, according to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare.

    “The program is to respond to a growing social problem,” said ministry official Hiroshi Yamashita.

    Japan has tight immigration laws, and generally allows only skilled foreign workers to enter the country. The new program applies only to Brazilians and Peruvians of Japanese ancestry who have gotten special visas to do assembly line and other manufacturing labor. It does not apply to other foreigners in Japan, Yamashita said.

    The government will give 300,000 yen ($3,000) to an unemployed foreigner of Japanese ancestry who wishes to leave the country, and 200,000 ($2,000) each to family members, the ministry said. But they must forgo returning to Japan. The budget for the aid is still undecided, it said.

    The visa program for South Americans of Japanese ancestry was introduced partly in response to a labor shortage in Japan, where the population is shrinking and aging. But the need for such workers has dwindled in recent months after the global financial crisis hit last year. The jobless rate has risen to 4.4 percent, a three-year high.

    Tokyo has already allocated 1.08 billion yen ($10.9 million) for training, including Japanese language lessons, for 5,000 foreign workers of Japanese ancestry.

    Major companies traditionally offer lifetime employment to their rank and file, and so workers hired on temporary contracts have been the first to lose their jobs in this recession.

    (Mainichi Japan) April 1, 2009

    ENDS

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

    Japan government gives cash for jobless foreigners of Japanese ancestry to go home

    Yuri Kageyama, AP Business Writer
    Yahoo Finance Wednesday April 1, 2009, 10:34 am EDT

    TOKYO (AP) — Japan is offering $3,000 for a plane ticket home to some foreigners who have lost their jobs, a sign of just how bad the economic slump has gotten.

    The program, which began Wednesday, applies only to several hundred thousand South Americans of Japanese descent on special visas for factory work. The government’s motivation appears to be three-fold: help the workers get home, ease pressure on the domestic labor market and potentially get thousands of people off the unemployment rolls.

    “The program is to respond to a growing social problem,” said Hiroshi Yamashita, an official at the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, referring to joblessness, which has climbed to a three-year high of 4.4 percent.

    But there may not be too many takers for the 300,000 yen ($3,000) handout, plus 200,000 yen ($2,000) for each family member. The money comes with strings attached: The workers cannot return to Japan on the same kind of visa.

    Given Japan’s strict immigration laws, that means most won’t be able to come back to work in Japan, where wages are higher than in Latin America.

    “It is not necessarily a totally welcome deal,” said Iwao Nishiyama, of the Association of Nikkei & Japanese Abroad, a government-backed organization that connects people of Japanese ancestry.

    The government’s offer — as well as the backdrop of history that has given birth to a vibrant community of South Americans of Japanese ancestry here — highlight this nation’s complex views on foreigners and cultural identity.

    Many Japanese consider their culture homogenous, even though there are sizeable minorities of Koreans and Chinese, as well as Ainu, the indigenous people of northern Japan.

    In the early 1990s, Tokyo relaxed its relatively tight immigration laws to allow special entry permits for foreigners of Japanese ancestry in South America to make up for a labor shortage at this nation’s then-booming factories.

    They took the so-called “three-K” jobs, standing for “kitsui, kitanai, kiken” — meaning “hard, dirty, dangerous” — jobs Japanese had previously shunned.

    Before their arrival, many such jobs had gone to Iranians and Chinese. But the government saw their influx — much of it illegal — as a problem and was eager to find a labor pool it felt would more easily adapt to Japanese society, said Nishiyama of Japanese Abroad association.

    So by virtue of their background, these foreigners of Japanese descent — called “Nikkei” in Japanese — were offered special visa status.

    “They may speak some Japanese, and have a Japanese way of thinking,” Nishiyama said. “They have Japanese blood, and they work hard.”

    The workers are mainly descendants of Japanese who began emigrating to Latin America around the turn of the last century.

    Brazil has the biggest population of ethnic Japanese outside Japan, numbering about 1.5 million. Last year marked the 100th year of Japanese immigration to Brazil. Initially many ventured to toil in coffee plantations and other farms.

    Brazilians are the most numerous of such foreigners in Japan, totaling about 310,000 overall in 2007, the latest tally available. Peruvians are next at 59,000. Those from other South American nations were fewer at 6,500 Bolivians, 3,800 Argentineans and 2,800 Colombians.

    Nearly all work manufacturing jobs, many through job referral agencies. Major companies, like Toyota Motor Corp., have relied on contract employees to keep a flexible plant work force.

    Foreign workers in Japan are entitled to the basic unemployment and other benefits that Japanese workers get. Though rates vary, Japan provides about 7,000 yen ($71) a day in unemployment — which would equal about $2,100 per month.

    Still, Nikkei are sometimes victims of discrimination in Japan, as they are culturally different and aren’t always fluent in Japanese. As a result, many have had a hard time blending into Japanese society.

    Now, as the economy worsens, many find themselves out of jobs.

    The government doesn’t track the number of jobless foreigners, but the number of foreigners showing up at government-run centers for job referral has climbed in recent months to 11 times the previous year at more than 9,000 people, according to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare.

    Overall, the government estimates that some 192,000 temporary workers who had jobs in October, including Japanese, are expected to be jobless by June. Experts fear such numbers are growing.

    In addition to the handout offer the government is also helping Nikkei find jobs in Japan.

    “These are like two sides of the same effort to assist people of Japanese ancestry,” said Yamashita of the labor ministry.

    Tokyo has already allocated 1.08 billion yen ($10.9 million) for training, including Japanese language lessons, for 5,000 foreign workers.

    Fausto Kishinami, 32, manager at a Brazilian restaurant in Oizumimachi, a city with a large Japanese-Brazilian population, said none of his friends are applying for the government money because of the no-return condition.

    “I don’t think people should take that money,” he said, adding that he hasn’t gone home in eight years, and is focused on his work in Japan.

    Some 20 percent to 30 percent of the South American foreigners of Japanese ancestry are estimated to have already returned home, said Nishiyama. They have paid their own way back and may return, once a recovery brings fresh opportunities, he said.

    ENDS

    27 Responses to “GOJ bribes Nikkei NJ with Golden Parachutes: Go home and don’t come back”

    1. KG Says:

      Have been waiting for you to pick up on this…

      Really what can you say? Other than indicative.

      This should be posted as a warning to all the S.E.Asian caregivers who are learning Japanese for the chance to work (on limited contracts) etc…

      I shall however attempt to restrain from comparing this to HK where the DH’s are paid a pittance but…

      This in effect goes back to the small country re the big country debate a while back… immigration versus death per se.

      – DHs? Domestic Helpers?

    2. Intricate Says:

      I’m not sure but I’d rather be jobless back at home with my family than jobless alone on the street with no means of seeing any loved ones again.

      They could’ve just as easy not given them anything and just let them rot on the side walk, but apparently the Japanese don’t see these people as vermin but as people who might like to return to their own country now that they can not afford living in Japan anymore.

      I never could have imagined such a program could be perceived as negative.

      – How about the other NJ who have lost their jobs, such as the Trainees? And who don’t qualify for unemployment benefit? They’re not Nikkei. Watch SOUR STRAWBERRIES and see their plight. Even if they go home, they’ll get it in the neck for the loans they took out to get here. Once again it’s a racial paradigm for not only giving NJ particular visas, but also sending them back. Either way, don’t try to give them a home here, let them become some other country’s problem. The Nikkei I’ve talked to don’t have jobs waiting for them at “home”, either.

    3. John M. Andresen Says:

      The Japanese government is attempting to avoid repeating the “Zai-Nichi Kankoku-jin” (Korean permanent resident) legacy.

      – Unpack this thought a little more, please.

    4. Matt Dioguardi Says:

      The article doesn’t address whether or not these workers are being given full unemployment benefits, the same that would be granted to a normal citizen in a similar situation.

      If the odoriferous payment offering these workers to “go home” is merely an *extra* option, then from their perspective it gives them more choices. (I can stay here and collect unemployment or take some cash and go to my previous place of residence.) However bad it smells, it can’t be bad to offer them more choices.

      However, if the workers are *not* being given the usual benefits, and then are being offered money to leave, the payment is particularly bad, I think. It’d be sort of like, you don’t get unemployment like the rest of us, take some money and get out of here.

      More information is needed …

      – The Nikkei qualify for unemployment benefit for the most part, since they paid into the system. The ones I talked to on the SOUR STRAWBERRIES film tour were getting it. But it’ll be running out after six months, meaning a couple months from now.

    5. John Says:

      I originally thought this was an April Fool’s joke when I first saw it on JapanToday. Something to bait the J gripers. I cannot believe it is actually true…

      These people came here for a reason – jobs. Ok, so things are tight now but in a few years Japan will face a SEVERE labor shortage. Many of these Nikkei have been here for years if not decades and are well-versed in their lines of work. Just because of a temporary downturn, you bribe them to go home??
      And then tell them to never come back!?

      How short-sighted!

      And some think this is about giving the Nikkei options? If they came here for a reason – jobs – then how about spending that money on job training and placement! This tight labor market won’t last forever.

      This proves that from the get go, regardless of the percentage of J blood in the Nikkei’s veins, they were never really welcomed as “one-of-us” Japanese, but tolerated as a necessary evil. They will definitely be needed in the not-too-distant future, but they’re an expendable bunch. Send this batch back now and there will be plenty availabe if we ever need ‘em again.

      Disgusting. But always couched in the patronizing “we’re doing this for your own good” lies. Just like the fingerprinting of permanent residents at the border…just like the never ending “bicycle stops” heavily targeting foreign-looking people…just like the move to centralize alien registration cards and send us hours away to an immigration office instead of the local ward/city office (“oh, it’s to give you better services”).

      However, you have to give it to the J govt for the consistency of their stance: you foreigners in Japan – no mattter how long you may have been here – you are and always will be UNWELCOME. So leave already.

    6. Simon Says:

      Do your research, Debito. [iyami deleted]

      http://www.asahi.com/national/update/0331/TKY200903310287.html

      「旅費を受け取って帰国した場合、日系人の身分に基づく在留資格での再入国はできない。」

      It’s far from “Don’t come back”. If they *want* to leave Japan, they can get financial assistance in doing so. If they choose to take the payment, they can’t return under the same you-have-Japanese-blood-so-all-other-conditions-are-waived visa. They couldn’t make a go of it, obviously, so next time they have to apply for a work or student or whatever visa.

      Just like the rest of us.

      How could it be fairer?

      – Kinda like firing everyone in a university with tenure, and inviting them to reapply from zero but with term-limited contracted work? I’ve heard that before. And I’ve heard that claimed to be fairer, too.

    7. norik Says:

      INteresting, did anyone sponsor the teachers, who wanted to go back home, when NOVA went bancrupt?They were also invited(recruited from abroad).And as far as I know, they did pay taxes and everything else through the company.
      BTW, since the program for Nikkeis still exists (it is easier for a Nikkei to get visa), they will be back, when everything settles down, and the crisis passes.
      Do you know that Monbusho schollarship students aren’t paid their return ticket if they are forced to go back before the expiration of their studies period (2 years).So if you get sick, or pregnant, or a tragedy happens in your family, or you just can’t live in Japan anymore because you are bullied by the professor or your classmates for example,or have become a victim of a crime, you need to pay everything out of your pocket.And these people are elite students/schollars in their countries, who are invited to study or do research for Japan.So obviously a Nikkei with high school diploma is more important than an elite schollar without Japanese roots. Very sad, indeed.

    8. Murphy Says:

      Could people read the whole story, please? Direct from the article above that Debito posted:
      “In addition to the handout offer the government is also helping Nikkei find jobs in Japan.

      “These are like two sides of the same effort to assist people of Japanese ancestry,” said Yamashita of the labor ministry.

      Tokyo has already allocated 1.08 billion yen ($10.9 million) for training, including Japanese language lessons, for 5,000 foreign workers.”

      From Jiji Press:
      一方、日本での再就職を目指す日系人に対しては、日本語能力の強化など就労準備のための研修を実施する。群馬県太田市や愛知県豊田市など多数の日系人が集まっている地域が対象で、研修は財団法人日本国際協力センターに委託する。
      http://www.jiji.com/jc/c?g=eco_30&k=2009033100949

      From the Ministry of Health and Welfare:
      なお、我が国に引き続き在留の上で再就職を果たそうという方々に対しては、従来から日本人と同様の再就職支援、雇用維持のための各種事業や住宅確保支援策の活用といった取組みを行ってきているところですが、今後も地域の実情に応じた通訳・相談員の増員等相談支援体制の機動的な強化や日本語能力も含めたスキルアップを行う就労準備研修の円滑な実施を通じて、再就職支援等の支援を適切に実施することとしています。
      http://www.mhlw.go.jp/houdou/2009/03/h0331-10.html

      日系人労働者については、現下の社会・経済情勢の下、その集住する地域において、派遣・請負といった不安定な雇用形態で働く者を中心に、厳しい雇用調整の対象とされる動きが見られます。これらの者は、日本語能力の不足や我が国の雇用慣行等に不案内であることに加え、職務経験も十分ではないため、一旦離職した場合には再就職が極めて厳しい状況におかれることとなります。

      こうしたことから、平成21年度より、日系人が集住する地域において、安定就労への意欲及びその必要性の高い日系人求職者を対象に、日本語コミュニケーション能力の向上、我が国の労働法令、雇用慣行、労働・社会保険制度等に関する知識の習得に係る講義・実習を内容とした就労準備研修を財団法人日本国際協力センター(以下「委託先機関」という。)への業務委託により実施することとし、平成21年4月以降、各地域において研修実施に係る準備が整い次第、順次開始することとしております(別添参照)。

      厚生労働省としては、地域の実情に応じた相談・支援体制の機動的な強化と併せて本事業の効果的かつ的確な実施により、我が国で引き続き再就職を希望する日系人求職者の方々に就労に必要な知識やスキルを習得しいただき、円滑な求職活動を促進し、早期の安定就労の促進を図ってまいりたいと考えております。
      http://www.mhlw.go.jp/houdou/2009/03/h0331-9.html

      In short, if the Nikkei themselves want to return home, Japan is providing financial aid to help them do that. Yes, there is that “you can’t come back on a Nikkei visa” string attached, true. But if people want to stay, Japan is strengthening programs and allocating funds to help them too. The Nikkei are being given options. Let’s get it right, people.

    9. Jake Says:

      As long as they are not being given this money in lieu of unemployment benefits, I don’t see it as a particularly negative thing. It strikes me as similar to the JET program, where the GOJ picks up your airfare after completing the program if you choose to return home.

      I agree that Japan’s immigration policy should be focusing more on cultivating families within Japan, so that they can remain here and contribute to society. However, these are very unstable economic times, and I reckon most people would be happy with all the options they can get.

    10. Simon Says:

      Don’t continue with this incorrect line of reasoning, please. It is nothing like getting fired at all. When you are fired from a university, you can no longer work at that university. These people are not being told they can no longer live in Japan.

      As Murphy said, _if_ they want to leave Japan, they may accept the financial assistance. Think of it more like a voluntary redundancy, if that’s easier to grasp. It is not a paid holiday back to their home country, just like people who choose voluntary redundancy don’t have the option to automatically come back and work for that same company a few months down the road.

      [concluding iyami deleted]

      – You really should get out and talk to some fired Nikkei if you think these people haven’t been “fired”. Or that these redundancies are “voluntary”. I have, during the Sour Strawberries film tour. And I’ve also put some articles up on Debito.org which back up how bad it’s gotten. Good luck to them trying to get another job. They’re really suffering. And instead of being helped like other citizens on a permanent basis, they’re being shown the door. To become some other country’s problem. And that’s before we get to the redundant “Trainees” who aren’t even being offered this golden parachute.

    11. Jeff Korpa Says:

      Hi Debito:

      Here’s a follow-up story from MDN:

      Japan gives cash to jobless foreigners to go home
      http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/news/20090402p2g00m0dm004000c.html

      (Mainichi Japan) April 2, 2009
      TOKYO (AP) — Japan is offering $3,000 for a plane ticket home to some foreigners who have lost their jobs, a sign of just how bad the economic slump has gotten.

      The program, which began Wednesday, applies only to several hundred thousand South Americans of Japanese descent on special visas for factory work. The government’s motivation appears to be three-fold: help the workers get home, ease pressure on the domestic labor market and potentially get thousands of people off the unemployment rolls.

      “The program is to respond to a growing social problem,” said Hiroshi Yamashita, an official at the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, referring to joblessness, which has climbed to a three-year high of 4.4 percent.

      But there may not be too many takers for the 300,000 yen ($3,000) handout, plus 200,000 yen ($2,000) for each family member. The money comes with strings attached: The workers cannot return to Japan on the same kind of visa.

      Given Japan’s strict immigration laws, that means most won’t be able to come back to work in Japan, where wages are higher than in Latin America.

      “It is not necessarily a totally welcome deal,” said Iwao Nishiyama, of the Association of Nikkei & Japanese Abroad, a government-backed organization that connects people of Japanese ancestry.

      The government’s offer — as well as the backdrop of history that has given birth to a vibrant community of South Americans of Japanese ancestry here — highlight this nation’s complex views on foreigners and cultural identity.

      Many Japanese consider their culture homogenous, even though there are sizeable minorities of Koreans and Chinese, as well as Ainu, the indigenous people of northern Japan.

      In the early 1990s, Tokyo relaxed its relatively tight immigration laws to allow special entry permits for foreigners of Japanese ancestry in South America to make up for a labor shortage at this nation’s then-booming factories.

      They took the so-called “three-K” jobs, standing for “kitsui, kitanai, kiken” — meaning “hard, dirty, dangerous” — jobs Japanese had previously shunned.

      Before their arrival, many such jobs had gone to Iranians and Chinese. But the government saw their influx — much of it illegal — as a problem and was eager to find a labor pool it felt would more easily adapt to Japanese society, said Nishiyama of Japanese Abroad association.

      So by virtue of their background, these foreigners of Japanese descent — called “Nikkei” in Japanese — were offered special visa status.

      “They may speak some Japanese, and have a Japanese way of thinking,” Nishiyama said. “They have Japanese blood, and they work hard.”

      The workers are mainly descendants of Japanese who began emigrating to Latin America around the turn of the last century.

      Brazil has the biggest population of ethnic Japanese outside Japan, numbering about 1.5 million. Last year marked the 100th year of Japanese immigration to Brazil. Initially many ventured to toil in coffee plantations and other farms.

      Brazilians are the most numerous of such foreigners in Japan, totaling about 310,000 overall in 2007, the latest tally available. Peruvians are next at 59,000. Those from other South American nations were fewer at 6,500 Bolivians, 3,800 Argentineans and 2,800 Colombians.

      Nearly all work manufacturing jobs, many through job referral agencies. Major companies, like Toyota Motor Corp., have relied on contract employees to keep a flexible plant work force.

      Foreign workers in Japan are entitled to the basic unemployment and other benefits that Japanese workers get. Though rates vary, Japan provides about 7,000 yen ($71) a day in unemployment — which would equal about $2,100 per month.

      Still, Nikkei are sometimes victims of discrimination in Japan, as they are culturally different and aren’t always fluent in Japanese. As a result, many have had a hard time blending into Japanese society.

      Now, as the economy worsens, many find themselves out of jobs.

      The government doesn’t track the number of jobless foreigners, but the number of foreigners showing up at government-run centers for job referral has climbed in recent months to 11 times the previous year at more than 9,000 people, according to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare.

      Overall, the government estimates that some 192,000 temporary workers who had jobs in October, including Japanese, are expected to be jobless by June. Experts fear such numbers are growing.

      In addition to the handout offer the government is also helping Nikkei find jobs in Japan.

      “These are like two sides of the same effort to assist people of Japanese ancestry,” said Yamashita of the labor ministry.

      Tokyo has already allocated 1.08 billion yen ($10.9 million) for training, including Japanese language lessons, for 5,000 foreign workers.

      Fausto Kishinami, 32, manager at a Brazilian restaurant in Oizumimachi, a city with a large Japanese-Brazilian population, said none of his friends are applying for the government money because of the no-return condition.

      “I don’t think people should take that money,” he said, adding that he hasn’t gone home in eight years, and is focused on his work in Japan.

      Some 20 percent to 30 percent of the South American foreigners of Japanese ancestry are estimated to have already returned home, said Nishiyama. They have paid their own way back and may return, once a recovery brings fresh opportunities, he said.

    12. AWK Says:

      [editing out overgeneralization]. I and many others dislike many things which happens in this country [to foreigners]. However, there is something common in Europe as well. I read news yesterday (sorry cannot give link as it`s not in english) about foreign workers in Chech republic. Government do exactly the same as here, they ask them to go home because there is no job, furthermore, Chech Embassies stopped temporary issue working visas for Moldavian, Ukrainians, Chinese, Vietnamese etc due to high unemployment and financial situation. In article was written that first who will be likely laid off are foreigners. Estimated about 12,000 of them will be out of job soon. Vietnamese may have more problems with visa issues due to crime problems and Vietnamese mafias. Japan however do everything to make us out forever and this is unique about this country.

    13. Shinrin Says:

      I think that the GOJ is facing a kind of problem which now stumbles on a particular piece of its law:. “SEIKATSU HOGO”

      Nikkeijin without “Japanese Skills” could be considered “unable to get a job”…It is like to be “handicap”. They will first qualify for the unemployment benefit and later for the “Seikatsu Hogo”, which, as far as I understand, can be used for dear life by “handicapped people”.
      Even if they get some basic Japanese language classes, it would not be enough to enable most of them to get jobs as “helper” (A growing sector with job offers to them). Therefore we would be looking for years of “SEIKATSU HOGO” which would cost a lot for the government.
      It seems that “SEIKATSU HOGO” has no strings attached, therefore, those who would take Japanese classes would do so on a voluntary basis.
      Social Help, “Sozialhilfe”, “Uitkering” in Europe have all the same problem. There are no strings attached to move people towards upskilling.

      – Just give us a sentence or two relating this back to the topic at hand, please?

    14. George Says:

      “And instead of being helped like other citizens on a permanent basis, they’re being shown the door.”

      1) They are not citizens if they are on the Nikkei visa,

      2) They are eligible for many (most or all?) of the same benefits that are available to Japanese laborers who get laid off.

      Sure, it sucks to be laid off, but because of the moves by the government these people have more choices than many of the Japanese temporary workers who have been laid off. The only thing you really might say is that foreign laborers usually fill unskilled jobs and therefore they tend to be hit disproportionately hard during a recession. But this is true everywhere.

      If there is any discrimination here it is “affirmative”. I don’t agree with the policy myself, because I don’t think Nikkei should get EXTRA benefits simply because they are foreigners of Japanese ancestry. But I think the focus of your wrath is misplaced.

    15. Mark Hunter Says:

      I feel that the Japanese government is trying to have it both ways: They wanted the laborers, took them in AND let them stay for many years. If the initial contracts had been for, say, 3 or 5 years only, then there would be less moral obligation on the government to help out. As it is, the workers were not discouraged from staying while services to help them integrate were weak; lack of language training in schools, which is still dismal, comes to mind. Programs like JET, which target a primarily educated western elite, are not really comparable. However, with JET, the contract terms are very clear. Term is up and you’re out. By allowing the South Americans to stay AND by inviting their families along, the Japanese government had an obligation to look after them. This handout
      smells bad in my opinion. Also, comparisons to other laid off Japanese workers are not valid. Those workers grew up in Japan and had access to a non-discriminatory (from their perspective) education system that taught them the skills necessary to integrate into society (afterall, they are Japanese). The South Americans did not have this provided for them. One can say that public education was available to the kids, but anyone who has experience with the Japanese education system knows that discrimination (not necessarily overt) is deeply entrenched, and that Japanese as a Second Language programs in schools are in still in their infancy. If the right of non-return were removed from the handout, then it would be somewhat reasonable. But if I were one of these workers who had struggled for many years to make a life here, I’d be deeply hurt. Finally, I think it’s a bit unreasonable to expect a relatively uneducated group of workers to have known the nuances of Japanese society and government before they came here. In that sense, they have more grounds for complaint than the educated westerners who come here and then act surprised when they face discrimination. Japan will face similar issues in the future until it creates a Ministry of Immigration. With the politics of such a creation, we are unlikely to see it until the current older generation dies off or the economy suffers from such acute labor shortages that it becomes a do-or-die necessity, also a long way off. Seeing how the current ‘helper’ program turns out will be very revealing.

    16. Arudou Debito Says:

      COMMENT BY STP, DELETED BY ACCIDENT. SORRY. DEBITO

      STP SAYS: Unlike Mark Hunter, I feel that it’s the Nikkei’s that is trying to have it both ways. These people came to Japan for one thing. Money. That’s why these people are appropriately labeled and call themselves “Dekasegi”. And when s**t hits the fan, they want a hand out.

      And the comparison to other laid off Japanese workers are valid in that sense that at least these people have the choice to “bail out”in their home country while the Japanese workers have to stick it out here in Japan.

      DEBITO REPLIES: – Yep, “these people” are only interested in one thing. Money. They have no other governing forces in their lives. And they should be rightfully exploited for that, damn leeches. Pity the Japanese workers who have to live in Japan. What a terrible place for us all to live. So let’s blame the foreigners for their plight. That fixes everything. And dehumanizes everything too.

    17. STP Says:

      “Yep, “these people” are only interested in one thing. Money”

      No Debito. I stated they came here for “money”. Am I wrong? They are just like “Dekasegi” in Japan where the rural population come to metropolitan areas or factories on a temporary basis to earn money so that they could send it back home. Isn’t that one of the factors contributing to their shortage of cash because rather than saving for a rainy day, they sent it back home?

      – You really have no clue about the lives “these people” lead.

    18. Mike Says:

      You know Debito, if I may, Id like to post my opinion about “racism” in Japan. This is related somewhat to the topic so please bear with me.

      Racism in the U.S. and Japan are two very different animals. The racism or discrimination that we encounter in Japan has to do with the residue of the caste system of the Meiji era; that is that we foriegners are below the igai burakumin and are treated likewise. Now many will argue that this is no longer applicable in Japan and that era has long passed. Im afraid, however, that things dont pass that easily. Just look at the south of the U.S. and the slavery issue and how long it has took to deal with that. I can still feel this undertow in Japan. I dont think it has to do with me being white or a different race. It has to do with my position in the caste system. The caste system, to me, is much more difficult to deal with then the race issue in some countries. You see, in Japan, when being scolded or starred at by others, bystanders will seldom, if ever do anything, on the contrary many will smirk whereas at least in the U.S., many bystanders will often speak out against the aggressive racist. It goes deeper as well, because in the U.S. we have laws against it, but here there may be laws, but the residue undertow often gives way. Its a difficult animal to tackle. I do feel that Japan should and can be the beacon of democracy in Asia, but they are have one foot stuck in the mud.

      – Please relate this back to the topic at hand.

    19. debito Says:

      FROM THE IRISH TIMES, COURTESY OF THE AUTHOR. DEBITO

      Japan pays foreign workers to leave
      The Irish Times, April 2, 2009
      DAVID McNEILL, in Tokyo
      http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/world/2009/0402/1224243860306.html

      JAPAN HAS responded to a growing unemployment crisis at its recession-hit factories by offering thousands of foreign workers cash to return home – and not come back.

      The programme, aimed at heading off what the government called “a growing social problem” will mainly be targeted at South Americans working at car giant Toyota, and its subsidiaries.

      Unemployed assembly workers will be allowed to apply for non-returnable loans of 300,000 yen (€2,296 ) to leave the country, said an official from the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, who denied it was, in effect, a repatriation scheme.

      “We’re responding to requests from the workers themselves,” said ministry spokesman Tatsushi Nagasawa. “These are people who can’t speak Japanese and will find it difficult to find work. How will they feed their families?”

      Workers who take the offer, which includes an additional 200,000 yen (€1526) per family member, will not be encouraged to return, said the ministry. “We’re not saying they should never come back, just not while the economy is bad.”

      Thousands of Brazilians and Peruvians – mostly descendants of Japanese who immigrated to South America – work on temporary contracts at Toyota and other factories. Many have been forced out of work by the recession, which has decimated Japan’s export industries.

      Toyota recently posted its first loss in 70 years and will shutter 11 local plants for three days this month. Brazilians make up more than 40 per cent of the foreign population in Toyota City, home to the car giant – local agencies say over 100 Brazilian nationals are leaving the city per month, with many more stranded, unable to pay for basic services or even living on the streets.

      Strict controls have kept Japan’s foreign population at a fraction of its total population – less than two per cent. The country has been often criticised for its fortress-like immigration policies, but some experts support the latest plan, saying it will ease the plight of struggling foreign families.

      “The government isn’t kicking people out. A lot of these people have asked for help to get home,” says Yoshimi Kojima, a university lecturer who researches foreign migrants. “Their situation is really awful.”

      Koiichi Nakano, a political scientist at Tokyo’s Sophia University, however called the move “cynical”. “It appears as if the government is trying to deport foreign workers before they commit crimes. It certainly is cheaper than more humane alternatives – like providing them with proper public shelter and giving them unemployment benefits.”

      Mr Nagasawa said he was unable to elaborate on what sort of problems could be expected if the workers were allowed to stay. “It’s difficult to say what might happen but it probably won’t be pleasant.”
      ENDS

    20. Shinrin Says:

      Back to the message 13 and relating to this new “policy”

      There are groups supporting the Nikkeijin and saying the following:
      - Do no go back, because you are entitle to “Koyo Hoken” money and “SEIKATSU HOGO” and you can keep it as long as you have no employment and can prove that you cannot get one.
      About 50% of all Nikkei-Brazilians in Japan, do not have high school and they face problems communicating in their own language. These folks are unlikely to learn “enough Japanese” to face the changing market demans which requires upskilling in this regard. They would better live on the Seikatsu Hogo until the situation gets better, and they can come back to their old manufacturing jobs.

      That is, in my opinion, the rational behind the “Go Home Money”. The government does not believe that most of them would benefit from vocational training, and the participation in vocational training would be, anyway, on a voluntary basis.

      On the top of that, a comprehensive “vocational training” for these folks would have to bridge the “cultural divide” and the government knows that it cannot provide it.

      Japan does not want and cannot provide them with it (There are no human resources to do that, in this country, at such a large scale) and they do not want them hanging around with the Seikatsu Hogo…I do not see simply discrimination, but lack of resources and knowledge on how to solve the problem.
      The Ministry`s document/proposal, on the top of Debito`s posting, states that they will recruit and train about 5.000 teachers to deal with it…Will these teachers be ready to be multicultural agents and bridge the “cultural divide” ? I do not think so !

      – Need a source about the lack of education for 50% of NBs.

    21. STP Says:

      “You really have no clue about the lives “these people” lead.”

      So why don’t you fill me in?

      http://www.brazil.ne.jp/economy/special032/

      “在日日系ブラジル人が年間にブラジルに送金する金額は、15億ドルに達している。これは、13.6億ドルであった昨年のコーヒーの輸出額よりも多い”

      Amount of money Nikkei Brazilians sends to Brazil is around $1.5 billion a year. The said amount exceeds the $1.36 billion in coffee exports.

      http://www.nikkei.co.jp/news/kaigai/20090109AT2M2700F08012009.html

      “日本からブラジルへの「出稼ぎ送金」が急増している。ブラジル中央銀行の調べによると、送金額は10月に前年同月比73%増の9400万ドル(約86億円)を記録した後、11月も11%増、12月も高水準が続いたとみられている。円高レアル安が進んだことに加え、景気悪化で仕事を失った日系ブラジル人らが日本での資産を処分して帰国する動きが広がっていることが送金増の原因となっているもようだ。

      The amount of “Dekasegi Remittance” from Japan to Brazil is increasing. According to the Brazil Central Bank, the outgoing remittance in October increased 73% at $94 million from the same period last year and furthermore 11% increase in November and is expected to continue in December. Continued strong yen and the loss of employment due to economic downturn among Nikkei Brazilians is facilitating the liquidation of asseets in Japan in order to return to Brazil.

      日本語教室:日本語学ぶ日系ブラジル人ら急増 不況で通訳解雇相次ぎ--豊橋 /愛知

      “中心部の中野校区市民館の教室では、受講生が昨夏の2人から、現在は30人に急増した。市内の会社で働く山本エミリアさん(43)は昨年12月から通い始め、「社長から日本語を勉強するようにと言われた。日本に19年いて、こんなことは初めて」とため息をつく。”

      At the Nakanoko Ward Center classroom, the amount of students increased from just two last summer to 30. According to Emilia Yamamoto(43) who works at the local company, she started attending the class last Decmeber. “My boss told me to go learn Japanese. After 19 YEARS IN JAPAN, this is the first” she sighed.

      http://mainichi.jp/area/aichi/news/20090318ddlk23040240000c.html

      [iyami deleted] shouldn’t we address “individual” responsibility as well before we start blaming the Japanese government?

      – Thanks for the data. So you’re saying Nikkei are being irresponsible and not worth public assistance because they’re sending money overseas?

    22. STP Says:

      “Thanks for the data. So you’re saying Nikkei are being irresponsible and not worth public assistance because they’re sending money overseas?”

      No. I’m saying that we should take into account the “individual” responsibility aspect before we starting blaming ENTIRELY on the Japanese government.

      – I see. So because you see a few people doing things you don’t approve of, we should condemn and deny social benefits to all people (and taxpayers) of anyone who seems to fall into the category you created.

      Sounds like a familiar line of reasoning. Heard it before with Otaru Onsens.

      Anyway, STP, I’m closing this thread between you and me. Agree to disagree. Bye.

    23. Shinrin Says:

      Reference for message 20
      50% is wrong, here is the correct reference.
      The data comes from thesis in diplomatic studies. The author now works at the recently established Brazilian consulate in Hamamatsu

      De Decasségui a emigrante
      João Pedro Corrêa Costa
      Tese: 2007
      Publicação: 2007.
      The whole book can be downloaded
      http://www.funag.gov.br/biblioteca-digital/pdfs_livros/lancamentos/pdf_dekassegui

      Go to pag. 73

      Tabela 13 – Schooling of Brazilians in Japan

      No answer 15 0,95%
      Elementary school 157 9,89%
      Elementary school (not finished) 104 6,55%
      High school 654 41,21%
      High school (not finished) 244 15,37%
      College 154 9,70%
      College (Not finished) 259 16,32%
      Total 1587 100,00%

      – Thanks!

    24. Behan Says:

      It seems like the humane and compassionate, and normal,thing to do would be to spend money and resources to help the Nikkei stay in Japan. Help provide jobs, job training, education, financial assistance, etc.

    25. Junko Says:

      1,080,000,000 yen from taxpayers to “solve” the problem of 1,25% of the Nikkeijin ?

      http://www.mhlw.go.jp/houdou/2009/03/h0331-10.html
      http://www.mhlw.go.jp/houdou/2009/03/dl/h0331-10a.pdf

      母国に帰国の上で再就職を行うということも現実的な選択肢となりつつある状況です。
      Now there is a situation that Nikkeijin should go back to the countries to find jobs again, This is the “”realistic choice””.

      Comment:. I think that Japan wants to ignore Brazil, or other South American countries, economic situation by proposing this policy.

      http://www.mhlw.go.jp/houdou/2009/03/h0331-9.html
      http://www.mhlw.go.jp/houdou/2009/03/dl/h0331-9a.pdf

      これらの者は、日本語能力の不足や我が国の雇用慣行等に不案内であることに加え、職務経験も十分ではないため、一旦離職した場合には再就職が極めて厳しい状況におかれることとなります。
      As for the unemployed Nikkeijin, their Japanese languages skills are not enough, they don’t know Japanese working rules and habits, “”don’t have enough work experience””, so they would be in a difficult situations to get jobs again if they loose jobs.

      Comment:. The reality is, they have more working experience in Japanese factories than many Japanese and they were regularly working here for many years.

      平成21年度より、日系人が集住する地域において、安定就労への意欲及びその必要性の高い日系人求職者を対象に、日本語コミュニケーション能力の向上、我が国の労働法令、雇用慣行、労働・社会保険制度等に関する知識の習得に係る講義・実習を内容とした就労準備研修を財団法人日本国際協力センター(以下「委託先機関」という。)への業務委託により実施することとし、平成21年4月以降、各地域において研修実施に係る準備が整い次第、順次開始することとしております
      So, Heisei 21st, in areas where many Nikkeijin are living, to Nikkeijin who have “”high-good intention”” to get jobs here permanently and are needed by Japan, we are preparing for vocational training, including skill-up Japanese language, teaching Japanese Labor law, Japanese working rules and habits and knowledge about Hoken systems, and they are produced by JICE. After Heisei 21st April, we would be starting these training courses and lectures as soon as ready.

      日本語教育も含めた職場でのコミュニケーション能力の強化
      To enhance the Japanese communication skills for workplace including Japanese education.

      3か月間程度(ただし、受講希望者の日本語能力等を考慮して
      短期間とする場合もある。)

      For about 3 months. (However, depending on the level of students, the Japanese training term would be shorter.)

      将来的にも日本で安定雇用できるよう、雇用保険受給期間中に日本語能力も含めたスキルアップを行う就労準備研修を実施(平成21年度予算額約10.8億円、対象人数5000人)

      We are ready to open vocational training courses including Japanese education for unemployed foreigners for a “”Japanese stable life”” during their unemployment insurance period. (Heisei 21st Budget for this project : 1,080,000,000 yen for training a target of 5000 people)

      Comments:.

      強化 :Enhancement ?
      In Japanese this word would not apply for “beginners” or “intermediate” level, but for “making those who are “good”, “better”.
      There were, until recently, about 400.000 Nikkeijin in Japan (Most of them from Brazil & Peru).
      The project will exclude all those who are not under the unemployment insurance programme at the time when the project is implemented. How many will be excluded ?
      It seems that the project is targeting only 5.000 Nikkeijin among 400.000…1.25% of all Nikkeijin.
      1.080.000.000 Yen from taxpayers are expected to go into a programme which would target those with good level of Japanese and for a short time, which would not create the expected results.
      After what is likely to become a huge failed attempt, the Ministry of Labor will conclude that the recommendation of the first proposal is the “realistic choice”…But only for Japanese policy-makers , not for the Nikkeijin.

    26. Cris Says:

      Obviously Debito has more data but I am married to a peruvian nikkei which i met while she was also doing her Ph.D., and I believe the level of education for peruvians nikkeis must be higher than stated by some. Many nikkeis do work on temporal low paid jobs on Toyota, etc even when having college degrees. So it is not like they are uneducated. I feel some guys associate Nikkei latinos = uneducated and then forget that many of the teachers at Nova were just highschool drop-outs who just happen to be native speaker -I have met lots of english “teachers” so the difference in education on the average nikkei vs english teacher is null. Nikkeis back in Peru and Brazil have higher standards of living than non-nikkeis, then better educated, obviously to earn 220.000 yen or more per month doing any K job seems more tempting than even being an University professor back home that paid less.

      Second how many of these 400.000 nikkeis have already applied to japanese nationality? or have permanent visa? My wife’s parents were japanese, she also has both passports -japanese and peruvian. So my doubt would be how many nikkeis would even consider taking this money? Most i know have nationality or permanent residence, so they don’t have reason to do so. Even if they go home, they still have the passport to come back. I sympathize with the nikkei community, I dont believe this policy wont have much effect on the number of nikkeis in Japan -very few would take the money since they are legal residents. Anyway another absurd policy that feels like a betrayal to the nikkeis.

    27. Alechan Says:

      Japan Pays Foreign Workers to Go Home
      NY Times Published: April 22, 2009
      http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/23/business/global/23immigrant.html?ref=business

      …So Japan has been keen to help foreign workers go home, thus easing pressure on domestic labor markets and getting thousands off unemployment rolls.

      “Japan’s economy has hit a rainstorm. There won’t be good employment opportunities for a while, so that’s why we’re suggesting that the Nikkei Brazilians go home,” said Jiro Kawasaki, a former health minister and senior lawmaker of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party.

      “Naturally, we don’t want those same people back in Japan after a couple of months,” Mr. Kawasaki said, who led the ruling party task force that devised the repatriation plan, part of a wider emergency strategy to combat rising unemployment in Japan. “Then Japanese taxpayers would ask, ‘What kind of ridiculous policy is this?’ ” …

      Mr. Kawasaki, the former health minister, said the economic slump was a good opportunity to overhaul Japan’s immigration policy as a whole.

      “We should stop letting unskilled laborers into Japan. We should make sure that even the three-K jobs are paid well, and that they are filled by Japanese,” he said.

      “I do not think that Japan should ever become a multi-ethnic society” like the United States, which “has been a failure on the immigration front,” Mr. Kawasaki added. That failure, he said, was demonstrated by extreme income inequalities between rich Americans and poor immigrants. …

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