Kyodo: Foreign laborers illegally working on farms in Japan increases sharply [sic]. How about the J employers who employ illegally?


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Hi Blog.  Here we go again with some media bias focusing on the evils “illegal foreign laborers” do, overlooking the fact that it’s Japanese who hire them illegally.  (One segment even justifies these illegal hiring practices under the guise of economics.)

Two other submitters below make some more arguments, with a focus on the recent smoke out of illegal police activities in Ibaraki Prefecture.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito


Foreign laborers illegally working on farms in Japan increases sharply
Japan Times / Kyodo News, June 12, 2016, courtesy of JDG and BGIO

The number of foreign laborers working illegally on farms across the nation rose threefold over the three year period ending in 2015, according to government data.

The findings highlight the difficulties facing Japan’s agricultural sector, including labor shortages and the advanced age of many of the country’s farmers.

Among all the illegal foreign workers subject to deportation in 2015, the greatest number — 1,744 or 21.9 percent — had worked in the farming sector. That was up from 946 in 2014, 695 in 2013, and 592 in 2012, according to the Justice Ministry.

The ministry also found illegal farm workers were “concentrated on farms in Ibaraki and Chiba prefectures, which are easily accessible from Tokyo.”

The average age of the nation’s farmers is now 66.4 years old, and the fact so many have no one to succeed them has become a serious social issue.

“I just cannot keep my business afloat unless I hire (illegal laborers), even if it means breaking the law,” said a 62-year-old farmer in Ibaraki.

The government does operate schemes under which farmers can legally employ foreign workers, including a technical internship program for people from developing countries. Some 24,000 foreign laborers were working on Japanese farms as of fiscal 2014 under that on-the-job training program, according to an estimate by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

Since the government began compiling such data in 1991, Tokyo had regularly topped the list of 47 prefectures for the number of foreign laborers working illegally. But last year, the capital ranked third behind Ibaraki with 1,714 illegal workers and Chiba second with 1,238.

An immigration official said it is believed that around 5,000 undocumented workers are currently working in Ibaraki.

By nationalities, the greatest numbers of illegal workers came from China, Thailand and Vietnam.

The number of foreign workers who overstayed their visas rose in 2015. The increase came after the government relaxed visa requirements for visitors from Asian countries.


Submitter BlondeGuy InOz comments: I love the way that the headline is “Foreign laborers illegally working on farms in Japan increases sharply” when in reality it should have been more along the lines of “Japanese agricultural employers continue to flout trainee laws and illegally exploit foreign workers from developing countries”, or alternatively “percentage of foreign workers from developing countries exploited by Japanese agriculture sector worker rises to 7% (1,744 of 24,000) of those employed in ‘trainee’ scheme”. But then such headlines would require the type of objective and balanced media coverage than has long been missing in what has the temerity to call itself ‘journalism’ in this country.

I let a lot of things go but I just couldn’t bring myself to let this one pass by without at least commenting. Note: that one of the main offending prefectures is Ibaraki prefecture. I experienced my fair share of racism and exclusion (e.g. denied entry to restaurants, denied the right to apply for a credit card, etc…) when living there during a previous stay in the prefecture between 1996 and 2001 (was resident in Japan from 1996 – 2010 before returning to my home country for what has been a better life).


Submitter JDG comments: Well, well, well! What have we here? The people benefitting from the anti-constitutional voter weighting disparity, the people receiving the most is government subsidies (including a special bonus to help them restructure for the now never to be implemented TPP), the people who have voted LDP over and over again. Rural farmers are the exact same people breaking the law by employing the greatest number of NJ illegally!

And guess where? Chiba and IBARAKI!

It makes a laughing stock and a sham of the legal system, the JA, the LDP, and the stupid notion that Japanese Shinto mumbo-jumbo rice farming culture is a corner-stone of Japanese identity! If it wasn’t for the LDP letting it’s voters illegally employ NJ, those voters and their farming culture would be over! No wonder Ibaraki police are so crazy; they are being told one thing by the government and then expected to turn a blind eye to the NJ underpinning the local economy! That conflict of interest must be causing them trauma!

In addition, I would put forward the following supposition to explain the behavior of the Ibaraki Police:

Local people, believing NPA statements that the vast majority of crime is caused by NJ, are alarmed by all the ‘shady’ NJ in Ibaraki.

The local police have to been seen to act tough on this issue to make the citizens feel safe, and to ensure that they don’t voice their dissatisfaction by throwing out the local LDP incumbent at the next election.

Therefore the PD put up posters of a militarized police, and hassle law abiding NJ whenever the locals phone them, since this means that they can be seen to be acting, when in fact they are choosing to overlook the huge numbers of NJ illegally employed by LDP supporting farmers, and under-pinning the local economy.

It’s all a dog-and-pony-show designed to distract the citizenry from politicians in league with law breaking Japanese farmers, so that they can keep their sticky fingers on the levers of power.

See? It all makes sense now.



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3 comments on “Kyodo: Foreign laborers illegally working on farms in Japan increases sharply [sic]. How about the J employers who employ illegally?

  • Jim Di Griz says:

    Thanks for posting this Dr. Debito.

    I believe that this goes part way (if not in fact all the way) to explaining the xenophobia of the Ibaraki Police.

    After all, imagine that you’re a relatively normal Japanese who joined the police, with all the usual baggage, stereotypes, and myths of ‘Japaneseness’. Then, the police train you to specifically believe that NJ are disproportionately responsible for crime in Japan.
    However, after graduating from Police Academy you get stationed in Ibaraki where you see the reality that thousands of NJ are illegally employed. Your police superiors know about this, but refuse to take action (maybe they threaten and bully junior police officers who push the issue), because of the ink between the local LDP politicians and the LDP voting farmers (after all, even the Chief of Police has to look out for his Amakudari!).

    And then your bosses push a relentless campaign of ‘being on your guard against illegal gaijin’, which you KNOW to be lip-service, a lie, an willful and intentional effort to distort the truth.

    What must this do to Ibaraki street cops morale?

    All of the high-faluting myths they have been pumped up with since birth (‘we Japanese are honest’, ‘Japan is country of law’), and all of the distorted nihonjinron giron myths that the Police Academy instilled in them (Japanese people don’t commit crime- NJ commit crime in Japan, it’s all NJ gangs, NJ have ‘no rights’, we police are protecting Japan) are demonstrated in Ibaraki to be LIES.

    And if you want to get ahead and have a career in the police, you better play along with the lies that go against everything that J-society and police training has instilled in you.

    Wow! Just sit back and think about how pitifully prepared most Japanese graduates are to employ critical thinking skills, AND THEN imagine the head spin that this situation must put on them!

    What must the rate of mental illness be amongst the Ibaraki P.D.? (perhaps that explains all the suicides in koban locker-room with their own side-arms?).

    Low morale, demotivated, knowing your job is all a sham, having to buy into the sham to avoid bullying, mental health issues arising from knowing living a lie (THAT’S real cognitive dissonance for you!);

    What must this do for professionalism?

    We already know.

    The Ibaraki Police department is complicit in avoiding the apprehension of Japanese farmers who knowingly break the law, it is knowingly responsible for deflecting attention from it’s own law-breaking by encouraging the locals to report ‘suspicious’ law-abiding NJ (and Japanese!) going about their own business, and treats those ‘suspects’ in an unprofessional and sometimes illegal manner.

    This IS racism, but it’s way more than that, and shows the essential rot at the heart of Japan’s collapsing social system based on relationships between various corrupt institutions and vested interests that have avoided change, and surely Ibaraki is merely doing what happens in other prefectures, the Ibaraki P.D. has merely been too high-profile about it.

    When the Ibaraki farmers all die of old age (and surely NOT in prison) who will be left to illegally employ all those manual laborers on the rice paddies?
    Who will grow the rice?
    Where will the pork and brown envelopes full of bribes go?
    Japan will collapse.

  • Baudrillard says:

    How is farm labor a “technical internship program”? What skills can a farmer from China learn on a Japanese rice farm? My second question is out of genuine curiosity; are there “unique” Japanese farming techniques that the Chiense can learn and then implement back home?

    Doubt it, but it would be nice.

    “technical internship program” as “low paid farm labor to prop up Japan’s ageing farmers.

  • Sounds similar to the blind eye to the exploitation of Mexican illegal workers in the states. Blame the workers, ignore the abuse, use, and exploitation of the workers by the companies.

    Not justifying it, but rather saying that it sounds eerily and sadly similar to that sort of narrowminded treatment of minorities.


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