Dr. ARUDOU, Debito's Home Page

From Debito's doctoral research:

Embedded Racism: Japan's Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination

  • Embedded Racism: Japan's Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination
  • (Lexington Books, Rowman & Littlefield HB 2015, PB 2016)

    Click on book cover for reviews, previews, and 30% discount direct from publisher. Available in hardcover, paperback, and Kindle eBook on

  • Book IN APPROPRIATE: A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan
  • Mainichi: 23 percent of Japan’s top firms eager to employ more NJ. Why this is not newsworthy.

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on March 15th, 2012

    IN APPROPRIATE, A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan, By ARUDOU Debito

    New novel IN APPROPRIATE by ARUDOU Debito

    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\" width=「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 Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
    UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito
    DEBITO.ORG PODCASTS on iTunes, subscribe free

    Hi Blog.  Yet another survey (the last one put up on was featured in the Asahi back in April 2010) says that Japanese companies want to hire foreigners.  It’s just that, well, like last time, y’know, it’s one thing to say you want something to happen, but it’s another thing (i.e., actual news) when you make it happen.  But the lack of job-placement support for NJ graduates of Japanese universities, and the horrid treatment of Michael Woodford (who rose through the ranks to CEO over decades of dedication to the company, only to be sacked for “cultural reasons” in an Olympian sea of corruption), do not inspire hope for any real news on this front any time soon.  Arudou Debito

    Submitter JK comments:  “I would say this is good news, so long as the leadership of these 28 firms don’t conduct themselves like Olympus.  The companies cited (i.e. Fast Retailing and Aeon) seem to ‘get it’…for these two cases, would you say that, ‘Don’t work for a Japanese company as an NJ and expect equality and upward mobility’ is still applicable?”


    23 percent of Japan’s top firms eager to employ more foreigners: survey

    Mainichi Shimbun, January 4, 2012
    PHOTO CAPTION:  Foreign students studying in Japan listen as a company representative explains his firm’s recruitment plan during a recruitment seminar held at Pasona headquarters in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo, on Oct. 16. (Mainichi)

    Some 23 percent of Japan’s top 122 companies are considering employing more foreigners starting from next year, citing plans for overseas expansion as their main incentive, a Mainichi survey has revealed.

    Sixty-two companies, some 50.8 percent of all firms surveyed, further answered that they are likely to hire more foreign employees in the next 10 years as well.

    Conversely, 45 companies, or 36.9 percent, answered that their foreign employee numbers will remain unchanged. There were no firms that plan to decrease foreign employment from current figures.

    The survey, conducted between mid-November and mid-December 2011, sought responses from top executives of leading firms including Fast Retailing Co., Aeon Co., Dai Nippon Printing Co., and Hitachi Ltd.

    A strong inclination for hiring foreign employees was observed mainly among companies with overseas expansion ambitions. Fast Retailing Co., the owner of casual wear chain Uniqlo, stated “more overseas shops” as the main reason for the increase, while Aeon Co., another retail giant, cited the necessity of increasing employees from other Asian countries due to the company’s plans for further expansion on the continent.

    Meanwhile, companies judged economic prospects in Japan as either declining or about the same as last year. Nearly 90 percent of all companies expressed concern over the rising yen as their prime economic anxiety.

    Asked to assess current economic conditions, 66 firms (54.1 percent) answered they had remained unchanged — a sharp increase from the total of 44 firms (37 percent), which gave the same answer in last year’s July-August survey.

    There were no companies that judged current economic conditions as “improved” and only 34 firms (27.9 percent) answered that the economy is gradually improving. The figures were higher during last year’s survey, when a total of 62 companies (52.1 percent) said the economy was improving.

    Meanwhile, 21 companies (17.2 percent) judged current economic conditions as either “deteriorating” or “gradually deteriorating,” yet another sharp increase from last year’s 13 companies (10.9 percent) that said so in the 2011 survey.

    Europe’s ongoing debt crisis, the yen’s appreciation, and the influence of Thailand’s floods are believed to be some of the reasons behind companies’ worsened economic outlook.

    The survey also found that nearly half of all companies (59 firms, or 48.4 percent) believe the economy will stay unchanged in the near future, while 43 firms (35.2 percent) said they expect it will improve.

    Furthermore, when asked what the future held for Japan’s employment system, 36 companies answered that they foresee an increase in mid-career recruitment ten years from now, while 20 firms chose “enforcement of merit-based salary” among the provided multiple-choice suggestions.

    Click here for the original Japanese story

    (Mainichi Japan) January 4, 2012




    2012年1月3日 19時48分 更新:1月3日 23時38分








    9 Responses to “Mainichi: 23 percent of Japan’s top firms eager to employ more NJ. Why this is not newsworthy.”

    1. Charuzu Says:

      The story (English version) is quite ambiguous.

      The Japanese firms intend to hire more non-Japanese employees.

      Which firms?

      “A strong inclination for hiring foreign employees was observed mainly among companies with overseas expansion ambitions. ”

      The article never says whether such new employees would be in Japan.

      One can certainly say that if a Japanese company wishes to expand to Malaysia, it will need to hire at least 1 Malaysian in Malaysia to further its goal.

      Moreover, as the plans intensify, it would likely want 1 Malaysian on staff in Japan to deal with linguistic issues, etc.

      The article in English provides little information as to the numbers, location, or type of employment being described for these non-Japanese.

      As such, it does seem to be not only not newsworthy, but really meaningless.

    2. Jim Di Griz Says:


      I agree. The companies that have said that they are looking to increase their numbers of NJ staff are looking at doing so in the countries in which they intend to grab a market share. No news there. No reduction in discriminatory practices, or removal of glass ceiling in Japan, just jobs for ‘gaijin’ in ‘gaikoku’, undoubtably because local language skills are required. Uniqlo needs staff at it’s overseas shops? Of course the staff will be NJ! Why would a J-graduate be employed to go to another country to work a shop register for minimum wage?
      Head line should read something like this;
      ‘Americans work at Toyota showroom in America’. Wow!

    3. Johnny Says:

      Some news from uniqlo.

      Uniqlo opens mega-store in Ginza, with 100 foreign staff
      BUSINESS MAR. 16, 2012 – 08:46AM JST ( 15 )

      AFP TOKYO – Fast Retailing on Friday opens its largest flagship Uniqlo store to date in Ginza. It will be the firm’s 9th flagship store in the world.

      In another first for the clothing retailer, approximately 20% of the store’s staff, or about 100 employees, are non-Japanese.

      The new store at Ginza 6-chome (former Ginza Komatsu Building) occupies 5,000 square meters and features 12 floors – all selling the Uniqlo brand. The building has a transparent-glass facade.

      In order to best serve customers from all over the world visiting Ginza, the store will offer for the first time a concierge service. The concierge staff will provide information on the Ginza and Yurakucho districts, act as fashion adviser and help customers enjoy the best shopping.

      Native speakers of six different languages will attend to customers (Japanese, English, French, Spanish, Chinese and Korean). Foreign customers will recognize their native language by a name tag.

      Uniqlo is enjoying rapid expansion abroad, and says it hopes to promote sales at home with the new flagship store.

      Fast Retailing Co CEO Tadashi Yanai said that Uniqlo is aiming to open between 200 and 300 stores per year worldwide to boost its global presence and compete with bigger rivals such as clothing giant Gap and Spain’s Zara.

      Japan Today/AFP

      — Thanks. Interesting comments there too.

    4. beneaththewheel Says:

      I’m going through university job hunting right now, and I think there’s quite a bit of support. There’s NPOs (Jaboon I’ve been to) who look over your applications, and give you advice for interviews for your PR, appeal, and what kind of questions they will ask. There are many companies that are offering job seminars (setsumeikai) for only exchange students, some of these are part of the selection process and include group discussions (a group discussion with native speakers is much harder for people who aren’t fluent yet). Lastly companies are open with their stats. One company I’m in the interview process with hires about 40 people a year, and last year 6 of them were foreigners. This year they said they wanted to expand upon that.

      Most companies I’ve been to have trying really trying to expand their businesses into China this year (Japan’s a shrinking market, China is growing) and there’s no shortage of qualified Chinese with good English and Japanese ability. I’ve found most luck (perhaps obviously) with companies with branch offices in the West, or foreign clients.

      All jobs offered are regular seishain jobs, starting with bad pay, but lifetime employment, bonus, etc, and guaranteed raises.

      — That’s hopeful. Thanks for sharing.

    5. ML Says:

      This news doesn’t mention anything about what NJ and what job.
      Because J companies could hire NJ only for labor
      or image
      instead of THE JOB THAT MATTERS
      Hiring NJ isn’t big deal. Hiring NJ because their ability(not just English) is what matters.

    6. jim Says:

      what about the GOJ hiring more NJ in the government sector or how about in the post office or fire department or police station etc.

      — Nationality Clauses in many parts of the public sector forbid that (despite them being scrapped by the Supreme Court for Japan’s judiciary in 2009; I haven’t heard if there have been any broader administrative or legislative changes, however), and it also depends on what part of the country you’re trying to get a job in (some enforce them, others don’t). But the point is, “Cabinet legislation bureau policy states that Japanese nationality is a prerequisite for those applying for public service work that involves the execution of public power or has a bearing on the formulation of national intention.” So NJ in the NPA? Right now, you gotta be kidding.

    7. Charuzu Says:


      “So NJ in the NPA? Right now, you gotta be kidding.”

      You are exactly right, but it is more serious than that in the NPA.

      I hear from Japanese gays that they have in many cases been told that NPA will not hire or will actively discriminate against Japanese gays if discovered in the NPA.

      And, I have less authoritatively heard that NPA dislikes having ethnic Koreans, etc. within itself.

      So, for NPA, being an NJ is only one of many disqualifying factors.

    8. Jim Di Griz Says:

      @Jim #6, and Debito,

      The policy of having no NJ in any public service sector job wouldn’t be so bad IF they even bothered to employ English/Chinese/Korean (etc) speaking staff at the information counter for NJ residents at city hall. Seriously, in other countries they have part time native speakers acting as translators, why can’t they at least do the same here?
      Before the apologists jump on me with the usual ‘you are in Japan, so you should learn Japanese’ garbage, please remember that many NJ come to Japan without Japanese language proficiency precisely because they are here to study the language. Not only that, but many are coming from China to do the low paid KKK jobs that the Japanese don’t want to do, or are sent here by their company, and therefore have no special interest in learning the language, or (from now?) 2000 may be ‘elite NJ’ who come on the new fast-track visa promise, having not bothered to become fluent in Japanese first (well, it’s only worth 10 points anyway).
      Perhaps it is ‘the plan’ that NJ should be chaperoned around by ‘minders’ from the company they work for, or the institution they study at, rather than being treated as grown ups?
      Seriously, if they don’t want to give even translating jobs to NJ, surely every city can find enough Japanese fluent speakers of English, Korean, Chinese etc to have a part-time assistance system?

    9. Benjamin Says:


      I understand your frustrations, and I don’t mean to be an apologist for a pretty blatantly racist system.
      However, in my experience this support does exist. My local ward office in Tokyo offers English support (which I have yet to use, since I generally have other plans between 10:00-12:00 on Sundays once a month and speak fluently).

      And should every country bumpkin town really be employing someone to assist people who may or may not ever come in? When I first arrived in Japan I lived in east Hokkaido….about as redneck as you can get here. I spoke not a lick of Japanese (and, to be fair, I worked for the city, so I had personal relationships with the local bureaucrats), but found that just about anyone in city hall was more than willing to muck through paperwork with me. There were 2 native English speakers in the city, and only 1 who spoke none of the language. They did employ a Russian translator, as there were a fair number of Russian speakers passing through. But to have an official English supporter for their ALT and the odd tourist doesn’t make much sense….especially for these poorer towns in the countryside.

      Somewhere between becoming a fancy-pants Yamanote person and my early days as an ALT up north I put in a year in Tochigi, which also had substantial English-language support at both the city and prefectural offices. Again, part-time, and not particularly convenient, but available. (To be fair, Utsunomiya is the prefectural capital, so that could have had something to do with it.) Due to the large number of factory jobs in the area there was actually a large pocket industry of private Portuguese translators as well, staffed by both Japanese and NJ.

      There is no real excuse for why all government forms aren’t available in other languages, and at the very least a manual issued to city halls to walk a (probably also part-time) native Japanese desk clerk to walk them through how to support the dangerous barbarians who come in for social services (or even to pay their taxes). But in areas where there are a fair number of NJ residents I think those services do exist (poor as they are). You shouldn’t have to master the local language in a country to expect basic services, and Japan’s track record here is comparatively reprehensible, but there is always going to be a certain degree of extra difficulty when you live abroad. We could be doing *much* better, but the picture doesn’t seem quite so bleak to me..

    Leave a Reply


    The requested URL /sites/debito.txt was not found on this server.

    404 Not Found404 Not Found

    Not Found

    404 Not Found404 Not Found404 Not Found

    Not Found