Hi Blog. On the theme of “bringing people over but not taking care of them” (a la the “Trainees” and the Nikkei), here we have GOJ entities beefing enrollment of depopulated Japanese universities with NJ students, then leaving them twisting in the wind when it comes to job searches. This according to the Yomiuri. Courtesy of Matt D. Arudou Debito in Sapporo
Foreign students finding jobs scarce
Foreign students seeking work in Japan after graduation are facing difficulties in finding jobs as employment conditions deteriorate because of the economic downturn.
More than 120,000 foreign students study in Japan annually. Observers say the government should support the students’ job-hunting efforts to keep them from losing interest in Japan and returning to their home countries.
One foreign student looking for work is a 24-year-old graduate student from China’s Jiangsu Province who lives in Akita. She is currently looking for full-time work at a Japanese firm for after she graduates. But the search is proving difficult.
“Since I began spending my time looking for work, my standard of living has been deteriorating day by day,” she said.
With no financial support from her parents, she is living only on a scholarship and a part-time job to make ends meet. With graduation looming, she decided to quit her part-time job and focus on finding full-time work. By such methods as giving up her trips home to China, she has amassed 300,000 yen in savings. But she has found herself in a hard situation without her part-time income.
On March 8, she traveled halfway across the country to Tokyo, where she attended a job fair for foreign students held near JR Hamamatsucho Station in Minato Ward. Following the event, she stayed for a week with a friend living in the capital so she could call on companies in Tokyo, but she came away empty-handed, she said.
Savings wiped out, she can no longer afford to eat out, and is saving money by cooking and eating at home whenever possible.
“I’ve made it a habit to seek cheap foods at supermarkets. For example, I decided not to buy enoki mushrooms, whenever they cost more than 100 yen,” she said.
The student buys boxed meals at supermarkets only after they become discounted at night and takes them to school the next day for lunch.
Still, she said she is not considering returning to China. “The competition is even more intense in China than here. There are fewer jobs to go around because of the economy. I want to work in Japan to utilize what I have learned in university and graduate school during my stay here,” she said.
Similar difficulties have been experienced by a 31-year-old man from South Korea who now lives in Saitama Prefecture. After graduating from a private university here in 2007, he returned home and found employment. However, he returned to Japan after his wife decided to enter a Japanese graduate school, and he began searching for a job here this year. However, he has had no luck.
“There are far fewer companies hiring than there were before. I need to find a job as soon as possible to support my wife and me, but I haven’t found a good place to work,” he said.
According to the Japan Student Services Organization (JASSO), the number of foreign students studying in Japan at universities, graduate schools and junior colleges has been on the rise in recent years. As of May 1 last year, a record 123,829 foreign students were studying in Japan, up 5,331 from the previous year. About 60 percent of the foreign students came from China, followed by students from South Korea, Taiwan and Vietnam, according to JASSO.
Many students from Asia hope to work in Japan. However, only 10,262 students were able to obtain working visas in 2007 after finding jobs. Many students ended up returning to their home countries after failing to find work.
The employment situation for foreign students has gone from bad to worse due to the economic downturn. According to the Tokyo Employment Service Center for Foreigners–a job-placement office for foreign residents–there were 252 job listings targeting foreign students graduating in March available at the center as of Jan. 31, down 54 from the same period last year.
According to the organization, it is mainly small and medium-size companies that seek employees through the center. However, general manager Kazuo Hirasawa said companies across the spectrum are cutting the number of foreign students they hire.
The government has announced a plan to increase the number of foreign students studying in Japan to 300,000 by 2020 to enhance the country’s international competitiveness by securing excellent human resources from around the world.
However, the government’s measures to support foreign students finding jobs in Japan are limited, even though this is supposed to be an integral part of the government’s plan. The government is now planning to host job fairs targeting foreign students and a meeting of universities and companies interested in recruiting foreign students.
But observers say the government measures are failing to keep up with rapidly deteriorating employment conditions.
Mitsuhiro Asada, chief editor of J-Life, a free magazine targeting foreign students published by ALC Press, Inc., said: “Foreign students are integral to the future of Japan. If the government really wants to increase the number of foreign students, it needs to focus its efforts on improving the status of foreign students after they graduate–including setting a target figure for the number of foreign students hired by Japanese companies.”
Foreign students receiving more assistance in job hunt
When trying to get a job in Japan after completing their higher education here, foreign students often struggle with the nation’s peculiar job-hunting procedures, under which students usually start such activities as early as the latter half of their junior year and submit “entry sheets” rather than resumes to prospective employers for the first round of screening.
Many job-hunting foreign students are uncertain about how to fill in these entry sheets or how they are expected to behave during interviews.
Therefore, some universities have been taking steps to help their foreign students find jobs.
For example, Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University (APU), a private institution in Oita Prefecture whose foreign students accounts for 40 percent of the student body, regularly holds events called “Open Campus Recruiting,” in which companies are invited to the campus to hold briefing sessions for foreign students and conduct recruitment tests.
During the 2007 academic year, there were about 380 sessions of the Open Campus Recruiting program.
On the other hand, Meiji Gakuin University in Tokyo started to offer job-hunting support to its foreign students in October last year. The private institution has asked for help from temporary staffing agency Pasona Inc., which provides advice to these students regarding how to fill in application forms and how to behave during interviews.
In addition to these two examples, many other institutions now offer special job-hunting seminars for foreign students.
In recent years, some companies have been willing to hire more and more foreign students. Starting with new recruits for the 2008 fiscal year, Lawson Inc., for example, has been hiring foreign students under the same working conditions as their Japanese colleagues. For the fiscal year starting this month, the major convenience store chain has about 40 foreign recruits.
“We value diversity [in our workforce],” a Lawson official says of why the company has hired an increasing number of foreign students.
Diversity in the workplace is thought to encourage people to respect different values that come from differing nationality, gender and age. This is also said to enhance their creativity.
“If companies can provide foreign employees with comfortable working systems,” says Masato Gunji, senior researcher at the Japan Institute for Labor Policy and Training, “it would become easier for them to hire other types of workers such as homemakers and the elderly.”
16 comments on “Yomiuri: NJ students brought to J universities by the bushelful, but given little job assistance”
Indeed, the Japanese government will have to put some effort in if it still intends to hit the mark of 300,000 foreign students. However, I also believe that they’ll have to reconsider their goals, not only this one, especially when looking at the current state of the economy and how many will probably rather want to be in their home country, possibly even living with their parents, for the sake of saving money.
I personally was planning on going to Japan as an exchange student via a contract my University has made with school’s there, but I’m delaying those plans by at least one year. I was gonna base it on that experience whether I would then go to university there or stick with the local ones (and your blog is one of the reasons for that).
However, there is one thing I must inquire about. In your post it says as follows: “There are far fewer companies hiring than there were before. I need to find a job as soon as possible to support my wife and me, but I haven’t found a ->good place to work<-,”
(Arrows added by me for emphasis since I’m not sure if styling works in comments.)
What is sorted under the group of a “good place to work?” I personally would jump at any job I could if I needed to. If you’re out of employment and need to provide income for you and/or your family, you cannot be picky. I’ve come across this attitude locally too, where people can’t “find a job that fits.” I personally don’t have any sympathy for these people.
The same thing may be present in the former case mentioned, where she says “to utilize what I have learned” – I can not say she’s solely searching for something in her field of studies but in my eyes it might as well be.
I’m not sure if these things are translation or what they actually say, but I can definitely say that I feel that with the economy rush of the past 10-20 years or so has changed the attitude of many has come to be what I described earlier (or tried to anyway) and many have to come back to earth.
— Well, what job you choose is your decision of course. But to quote a rock band you might not have heard of called the Talking Heads: “You’re playing with your life, if your job isn’t what you love.” I truly suggest you be picky. Jumping at any job could land you in a very bad situation. It did me, as in horrible Sapporo trading company 1991-1992. Worst years of my life.
To help please the J-wife, and to better interact with my customers (though I employ a J-assistant to do that), I’ve taken a serious stab at learning Japanese. Having taken trial lessons at a few schools around Tokyo, I’m astonished at the preponderance of Korean students at them. At some schools it’s over 90 percent, and I think it’s safe to say that at most schools it’s well over 50 percent. I had been under the impression that Koreans in general didn’t really like Japan, but it seems the Working Holiday program keeps ’em coming.
— Not sure what this has to do with this post’s topic…
This article is ridiculous!
Foreign students don’t want extra assistance, we want equal rights, equal treatment as other Japanese students.
I’ve also gone through the shuukatsu stuff, and I’ve seen and heard some quite strange things concerning foreign students.
Heard at the setumeikais of Konika, Mitsubishi and Fujitsu:”If you want to work for us, go to your country on local salary”.
Heard at the setumeikai of JTB( the guy staring directly at me):”We don’t need people who speak English”(?)
Heard at the setumeikai of Funai(again the guy staring at me, and after his remark everyone turned to me): “I want people who can communicate with the other workers” (white=doesn’t understand Japanese)
A friend of mine was asked at an interview the following “Now look at you, blond, white, with blue eyes.Everyone in the company will point at you and say:Look,gaijin, gaijin. How are you going to deal with this if you enter?”
And in the entry sheets of many companies you can enter your name only in hiragana/kanji.
As for the Chinese, right now there are setumeikais exclusively for Chinese students, so I don’t feel sorry for them. They receive much more support than non-Asian students, for example.
— Just be careful that you don’t fall into a “divide-and-conquer” syndrome. You students should all be in this together.
Wow. Perhaps the various bureaucracies in the J government could at least look into the..how to term it?… dichotomy? 2-facedness? insanity? on the foreign student aid front
JASSO last year reduced a supplemental aid program to assist foreign students (who are paying out of pocket for National Health Insurance, kenko hoken) with some of their medical expenses, so students out-of-pocket cost on any medical bills was worsened from 6% to 20% (which is ironically what the normal deductible used to be a few years ago). Then this year, they cancelled it altogher. So foreign students pay excatly the same (30% of the bill) as any fully-employed Japanese person. [Despite the thing that as foreigners are not eligible for welfare, even though we probably have much lower incomes than Japanese who qualify for welfare and various socialist handouts. How about at least helping out the students from poor countries who are blowing their meager life-savings here, and don’t have rich parents sending them money every month?]
Even if you don’t agree with governemnt ahndouts for foreigners, the key problem is foreign students are only allowed to work 28 hours per week, and no more than 8 hours per day (many would love to work long shifts on weekends to focus on studying during the week) The government prevents us from legally working enough hours to live at anything but a level of extreme poverty. I say, as long as you can keep your grades up, why should there be any limit?
When you can only get a part time job at 800 yen an hour (if you’re lucky) how can you live on 28 hours a week? Any self-supporting student WITHOUT a scholarship laughs at the cost-cutting examples the scholarship student is complaining about. Cutting back tripS, TRIPS? (plural) back home? Gee, life sure is rough.
[But then, most self-supporting students ARE already breaking the law and working beyond the 28 hour limit, since if you aren’t getting a 100% tuition waiver, there’s no way to pay tuition bills AND rent/utilities AND eat without breaking the law]
Or how about the fact that there are still plenty of scholarships that come with the stipulation that YOU MUST LEAVE JAPAN AFTER YOU GRADUATE!
Maybe a Ministry of Immigration could help coordinate and eliminate so many of these senseless policies.
But then, it just all reflects on the insanity of the population problem and solutions (or lack of any involving the only scheme that could actually work – integrating more gaijin into Japan long-term)
It’s not a “population problem”, it’s a “Japanese-race population problem” to them.
It’s not a “labor shortage”, it’s a “Japanese-race white-collar worker shortage” to them.
If the government is committed to having more foreign employees in their workforce they probably should be doing more to assist foreign students in getting jobs. Though foreign students must also realise it is not their right to receive any special assistance. If they are unable to be supported by their family or are not prepared to give up luxuries like eating out(as do low income Japanese families) then maybe they should reconsider coming here in the first place.
— A bit harsh, no? And I don’t think this is the point being made by the commenters in this entry.
One has to wonder what is the motivation behind the whole international student program? Is it simply a means of propping up the attendance rolls at universities faced with decreased enrolments of Japanese students? Is it to spread the Japanese language abroad by having people attend schools only to send them home once they’ve absorbed the language and culture? Or is it to train people to fill in corporate positions in Japanese multinationals in the students’ home countries, as seems to be the case with the recent Lawsons hirings?
If it is just a “fill up the university classrooms” scheme, it seems quite short-sighted, what with the overall shrinking workforce. Economic downturn or not, Japan needs and will continue to need workers from abroad. What better way than those university-trained with strong language skills who are already acclimatized to living in Japan?
— Speaking as a person working in the Japanese university system, I have the strong feeling it’s just one of those means to keep the MoE happy about minimum numbers of students enrolled, so that universities stay accredited. Just economics to deal with a declining student body. I really don’t think there was much thought beyond that.
– Well, what job you choose is your decision of course. But to quote a rock band you might not have heard of called the Talking Heads: “You’re playing with your life, if your job isn’t what you love.” I truly suggest you be picky. Jumping at any job could land you in a very bad situation. It did me, as in horrible Sapporo trading company 1991-1992. Worst years of my life.
Indeed, but if you’re desperate you should be able to endure that at least for a few months, especially if you’re doing it for your family.
— Your choice. But given how people (especially back twenty years ago in Japan) didn’t see a job as something to endure for a few months, you may in fact find your family inadvertently locking you into a job that even drains your will to live. Situations are never as simple as you’re making out, from my experience, and should not be cited as reasons to speak ill of others who might want to make different occupational choices.
Although I agree with PeteMcC above in that foreign students are not entitled to any government hadnouts in pirnciple: I also believe that by limiting the amount of time we are allowed to work, and thus imposing limits on our ability to support ourselves – some consideration in return is only fair.
Either keep the government imposed limits on income, but throw in some minimal government aid or tax breaks or something; or remove the income limits and let students sink or swim on their own. I’m a Libertarian, so I prefer the latter; but I can’t accept a government that only punishes students by arbitrarily handicapping our ability to support ourselves, and then only after we jump through administrative hoops (burning our savings in the meantime) to get the necessary work permits [why is the work permit not just included automatically with the student visa in the first place?]
If the government just gets out of our way, lets us work, I wouldn’t expect any handouts.
But it IS in our way. There were some handouts, likely created in consideration of these facts, but those handouts are evaporating or gone altogether, just as the scholarships are also dwindling in amount and number of awards.
Japan “wants more foreign students” in theory, but only more RICH foreign students if we judge by the deeds, not the words.
– Your choice. But given how people (especially back twenty years ago in Japan) didn’t see a job as something to endure for a few months, you may in fact find your family inadvertently locking you into a job that even drains your will to live. Situations are never as simple as you’re making out, from my experience, and should not be cited as reasons to speak ill of others who might want to make different occupational choices.
True, but in my experience and just by viewing the advertisements offering jobs around here (I do not know how it is in Japan), there is plenty of jobs which I personally would be fine with taking. There’s a bunch of people over here that’s whining endlessly for the government to do something and help them since they lost their job and can’t find a new one blah-blah. I don’t have any sympathy with those people, there’s plenty of things you can work as. I lost my job too, but instead of whining about it to the press or whatever I decided to look for another one and not be that picky.
Of course people will lose their jobs as the economy collapses, that’s just the way of life. It’s unfortunate, yes, but whining about it won’t help it. Going and doing something about it such as looking for another one will help. When life’s hard you just don’t have the choices you do when life’s good, that’s a fact. You can’t be stuck in the good times, people have got to face the fact that they _will_ have to lower their standards of living, both in employment issues and living (food, going out, etc.).
But yes, all your points are valid, and I can definitely see your view on it. (:
— Look, if you don’t know how things are in Japan, then please sit back and lurk. This is a blog about Japan, and we prefer comments from people who know what they’re talking about. Thanks.
Here’s the bottom line:
Fully enforceable anti-discrimination laws embodying race, gender, age, etc…need to be passed for a fare system encompassing all facets of life here from primary school to the job market all the way through a truly voluntary retirement to come to fruition.
I still clearly remember the shukatsu fairs, as a non asian foreigner.
They were only interested in chinese people, less in koreans and then, maybe some thai and Malaysian people. The racism that in one interview Hitachi displayed towards a meeting that by chance was only attended by foreigners (me, two europeans and one chinese), was astonishing. The recruiting director took an disrespectful attitude, and the promised tea afterwards was canceled without previous notice, only because we were foreigners. Not matter how brilliant these students were (3 of them were Monbusho students, chosen among the top of their countries).
There is no way Japan is going to attract talent from abroad, since usually this talent have better options in Europe or the US. Only people without any other options will consider taking a work in Japan, unless is in one of the foreign companies operated the foreign way, but again, these are the minority. Really talented people know they will be treated at least with more respect and as equals in the US and Europe. Japanese government should stop taking this attitude that “you are extremely privileged to be in our country so shut up”, since the real talent, will always be in high demand in other countries. For example, the japanese that chose to become american in the US and won the Nobel prize for the US. I see that almost impossible to happen in Japan, unless they change the way they see foreigners, not as somebody that can contribute, but someone who we must tolerate and will be never one of “us”. Good luck Japan, you will need it.
I have been teaching in Japan for a number of years now in public schools now thankfully, through direct hire. The only drawback is that the salary is about at the poverty line after national health care and other taxes. It really isn’t enough to support my wife and child-on-the-way. Dual income is good but in the end my child may suffer from two parents working. So, here is how I relate to this article.
I want to go back to University to get a Masters in Education and get a local prefectural/municipal teaching licsense. However, I don’t know of any success stories of this happening, personally. I want to work for public institutions, not private, as I feel more effective in that environment. After reading articles like the one above, the risk involvde seems too high. Maybe the chance will come someday when someone realizes that Japan has been sitting stagnant for the last two decades.
This doesn’t just happen in Japan. In most western countries, a student visa doesn’t come bundled with a work permit. I can only guess this is to stop people taking advantage of the scheme, and make sure they do what they set out to do – get a qualification.
I too can’t help but feel that economics has the largest part to play in this. the articles are all talking about how it is much harder NOW to get a job, and again, that is not something confined to Japan. A look at the stats of most countries I am sure would indicate that foreign students/graduates are having a hard time finding employment. There are plenty of anecdotal doctors driving cabs in NY after all.
Also, can we really say foreign fee paying students are a case of “bringing em over”? Didn’t such students make their own economic decision to study abroad? Surely they looked at the merits of all countries before parting with their parents hard earned?
I found your website by coincidence, while looking for information on the 永住権 and afferent procedures. I am a Ministry of Education scholarship grantee myself, here to study for five years [one year of Japanese language education + 4 years at a university of my… of *their* choice].
First off, I’d like to point out that the Ministry of Education has really messed-up goals when it comes about foreign students. Starting April this year, scholarships on all levels were decreased – not by a substantial amount, but still enough to make things just a tad harder for us. We were given two reasons for that – the state of the economy (makes sense), and the fact that the Ministry had set up a goal to increase the number of foreign scholarship grantees *substantially* over the next few years.
Which brings me to the very subject of your post – the Ministry *does* bring foreign students into Japan by the thousands, but cares very little about what happens to them after they’re actually here.
I’ll be honest here – I’m in my second year of university, and I have no idea whether or not I’ll be able to find a job here. Finding a decent part-time job, at least, has proven more challenging than I expected (and I’m not talking about scrubbing floors or washing dishes – I certainly didn’t come to Japan for that). I tried for a number of jobs, including teaching, translating, and design (I have solid credentials for all three). The reason I was turned down for was essentially the same: no foreigners allowed.
My university, if anything, tried to discourage me using every avenue, from denying to issue the certificate I needed to apply for the part-time work permit (even though there were no official regulations in place to forbid scholarship grantees from working) to reminding me to be “aware of my precarious status” at all times.
And their lack of support isn’t limited to finding a part-time job. I encountered some financial difficulties straight after I moved from Osaka (where I studied Japanese in my first year) to Tokyo. Moving out, paying a number of additional fees at university (of which I didn’t know of until the last minute), plus the scholarship being delayed for about 10 days, left me basically penniless. When I went to ask for advice, I was lectured, in turns, about how I should be more “mindful of my spending” and “try to save as much money as possible.” I’d done that, but I still came up short. In the end, they just shrugged it off and told me to go “call my parents or something”. I don’t care what they say – my scholarship is definitely *not* enough for a decent living. Not in Tokyo, anyway.
Finally, there is a blatant racism when it comes about students from different countries. Let’s talk numbers here. In my year, there were around 2 to 5 scholarships for most non-Asian countries. Vietnam, on the other hand, had over 30 scholarship grantees – and most of them couldn’t speak either Japanese OR English (both criteria for admission in the program). Most ‘official’ magazines, notifications or programs, as well as a relatively large percentage of housing and mutual aid programs, are exclusively dedicated to students from China, Korea and a few other Asian countries.
Sorry about the *very* long comment. I just felt the need to get this information out there. Hopefully my university won’t catch wind of what I posted here; that could be trouble.
Is Japan worth to try? I say yes provided you come with first class ticket. Monbukagakushou scholarship and top level university specially if you are studying in Engineering.
Is it possible to find job? Yes provided you keep your self away from Jinjibu (human resource managers) as they had many tricks on their sleeves to knock you out. Writing Essay in Japanese, group discussion in Japanese. Ask your professor to introduce you to some managers in company or try Hakken company then mid career employment.
Other option is you use your foreigner privilege. As number of foreigner (non asian) is relatively low. Some companies or universities to show that they are internationalized, they want hire number of foreigners.
Places you should aviod: small companies, Egiyou bu(Sales department), Trading company and any general job that ordinary people can do. remember Japan is a densely populated country and competition is sever and ordinary jobs are impossible to take(Have you seen a foreign cab driver?)
The following quote from the Yomiuri article is laughable:
“According to the Japan Student Services Organization (JASSO), the number of foreign students studying in Japan at universities, graduate schools and junior colleges has been on the rise in recent years. As of May 1 last year, a record 123,829 foreign students were studying in Japan, up 5,331 from the previous year. About 60 percent of the foreign students came from China, followed by students from South Korea, Taiwan and Vietnam, according to JASSO.
Many students from Asia hope to work in Japan. However, only 10,262 students were able to obtain working visas in 2007 after finding jobs. Many students ended up returning to their home countries after failing to find work.”
Is this trying to say that 123,829 foreign students graduated here and were looking for work in Japan, but that only 10,262 found jobs willing to sponsor work visas? That’s what it looks like to me, but it’s just not so.
You can’t get a work visa as a student, so you either graduate or quit and try to get one. I’ll be generous and give foreign students the benefit of the doubt (especially with the reputation of the Chinese) and assume they graduate before they look for work visa-sponsored jobs. (That, of course, leaves out the ones who get unpaid internships instead.) So, were all 123,000 instead trying to get SPECIAL PERMISSION to work (an immigration condition that is required for student visa holders)?
Confusing, ain’t it?
10,262 found work. Cool. Congratulations. More demographics, please, Yomiuri/JASSO. How many were LOOKING, for starters? That is, 10,262 is a percentage of how many job hunters?
At my uni, most foreign students want to go back home and use their skills, not stay here.