COMMENT: Quite honestly, I am of two minds on this proposal. Depends on who the true target of this policy is: The employer (to force them to employ legal workers, and force them to take responsibility when they don’t? It would be about time.), or the foreign employee (in another attempt to “track” them constantly, an extension of the proposed “Gaijin Chip” IC Card system? See my Japan Times article on this at http://www.debito.org/japantimes112205.html).
It’s a wait-and-see thing for me, as there is no way to determine how it will be enforced until it is enforced. As witnessed with the recent revisions of hotel laws, requiring passport checks of tourists, giving the NPA license to order hotels nationwide to demand passport checks of ALL foreigners (regardless of residency), see http://www.debito.org/japantimes101805.html. –Arudou Debito
Govt to check foreign staff situation / Plans to have firms report worker details
The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept 23, 2006
The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry intends to make it mandatory for firms that hire foreign employees to report the number, name and nationality of such workers, ministry sources said Friday.
Currently, this information is submitted on a voluntary basis, and personal information is not included. As a result, the government does not have a detailed picture of the nation’s foreign workers.
With the new policy, the ministry will establish a reporting system that requires firms to submit foreign workers’ information. Companies that fail to turn in the necessary information will be subject to punishment. The ministry hopes the new measure will prevent foreigners from working illegally, while encouraging legitimate workers to take out social insurance.
The Labor Policy Council, an advisory body to the health, labor and welfare minister, will shortly start discussions on the measures and hopes to submit a bill to revise the Employment Promotion Law to the ordinary Diet session next year.
The nation’s declining birthrate and aging population has led to growing concerns over a labor shortage. Consequently, the government is working on ways to entice more foreign workers to the country.
According to reports on foreign employees submitted to the ministry’s public job security offices as of June 2005, about 340,000 foreigners had been hired by about 30,000 firms. These numbers are likely to keep increasing. Of the workers, 43 percent hailed from East Asia, followed by 30 percent from Central and South America.
However, according to the Justice Ministry, as of the end of 2005, registered foreigners numbered 2.01 million, 800,000 of whom were estimated to be working, including illegal workers, based on an analysis of their residence status.
There is a sizable difference between the two ministries’ figures.
The current system allows firms to choose whether to provide information to the government on their foreign employees, and only those firms with more than 50 employees are eligible to do so.
The government has been criticized for its sloppy monitoring of foreigners once they have entered the country, even though immigration procedures are rigorous.
By making it obligatory for companies to report foreign workers’ details, the government hopes to keep track of people on an individual basis, and to enhance measures for clamping down on those working illegally. In addition, it is hoped the measures will encourage foreign workers to take out social insurance, and allow central and local governments to offer better support to workers who have to change jobs frequently due to unstable contracts.
The government’s three-year deregulation program, finalized in March, discusses making it mandatory for firms to submit reports on their foreign employees and whether reports should include detailed information such as workers’ names and residence status. The policy is likely to prove controversial in light of the protection of foreign workers’ privacy and the impact of the new system on the economy.
Yomiuri Shinbun (Sep. 23, 2006)