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Hi Blog. Debito.org Reader JF found this sticker up in Ikebukuro a few weeks ago:
Issued by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Youth and Safety Policy Division, it says that the employer of this establishment will not hire illegal foreign workers. The slogan rimming above says, “Office declaring its promotion of the proper employment of foreigners”, complete with The Staring Eyes of Big Brother that probe all souls for criminal intent, sorta thing. Like this one, snapped in Tamagawa last September:
JF comments: “I sort of see what they are trying to say with it, but I still think this sticker is bad style and puts all of us in a bad light. Suggesting yet again that many foreigners work illegally, while the actual percentage is probably tiny.”
It is, the number of so-called “illegal foreigners” long since peaking in 1993 and continuing to drop, despite police propaganda notices claiming the contrary (see for example here and here).
JF did a bit more searching about the origin of the stickers, and discovered a downloadable manual directed at employers about how to hire foreign workers legally:
Here’s the cover:
Entitled “Gaikokujin Roudousha Koyou Manyuaru” (Hiring Manual for Foreign Workers), you can download it from Debito.org at https://www.debito.org/TokyotoGaikokujinHiringManual2013.pdf.
It opens reasonably well, with the first sentence in the preface (page 1) stating that illegal overstaying foreign workers aren’t just a cause of the worsening of public safety (yes, that old chestnut again), but they also have human rights, and influence the economic competitiveness of Japan. It talks about the five-year goal of halving the number of illegal overstayers starting from 2003, and how that did indeed succeed, but there are still about 70,000 illegal foreigners still extant, with about 70% of them entering the country with the goal of working illegally (I don’t know how they determined that without installing a “mental goal detector” at the airport, but anyway…). It also talks about the change in policy sloganing away from “strengthening policy against illegal foreign labor” in 2003 to the promotion of “proper employment of foreign workers” in 2009 and 2010; okay, that’s a bit better.
The manual defines “illegal labor” on page 3, and the new immigration procedures of 2012 on page 2 — with very clear outlines of what employers should check to make sure everything is legal (the Zairyuu Kaado (ZRK), the replacement for the old Gaitousho), and what criminal fines and penalties might happen if they don’t. Page 4 describes what is on the ZRK, who gets it and who doesn’t, and what types of visas in particular should be checked for work status. Page 5 tells the employer how to read official documents and stamps, and page 6 elaborates on how to spot forgeries. There’s even a GOJ website the employer can use to verify details on said NJ employee, with a surprising amount of technical detail on how the ZRK is coded (see here and here) discussed on page 7. The manual continues on in that vein for a couple more pages, essentially telling the employer how to read a ZRK (or old remaining Gaitousho) and visa stamps like an Immigration official. Pages 12 and 13 talk about visa regimes and what times of work fall into each, and 14-15 offer more warnings to employers about not following the rules. The book concludes with how to treat longer-term NJ, and offers contact numbers for questions.
COMMENT: I welcome more thoughtful comments from other Debito.org Readers, but I think this manual (overlooking the “Staring Big Brother” stickers; albeit that may just be a cultural conceit of mine) is a good thing. For one reason, it’s inevitable: Employers have to be told the rules clearly and the punishments for not following them (as opposed to the NJ alone getting punished for overstaying, with little to no penalty for the employer — who often wants or forces NJ to overstay in order to put them in a weaker wage bargaining position); let’s hope employer punishments are “properly” enforced in future. For another, the illustrations are less racialized than usual, to the point where it is unclear who is “Japanese” and who is “foreign” on page 16. Good. Definitely progress, compared to this.
My only misgiving is that this feels like a training manual for how to operate a complicated piece of consumer electronics, and for that reason is dehumanizing. It also might deter people from hiring NJ if things are this potentially mendoukusai. That said, I’m not sure in what other way that information could have been transmitted; links to better-executed foreign employment manuals for other countries welcome in the Comment Section. What do others think? Arudou Debito