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  1. #1
    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    Japan passes controversial new immigration bill to attract foreign workers

    Japan passes controversial new immigration bill to attract foreign workers


    In this Nov. 28, 2018, photo, lawyer Shoichi Ibusuki, center, speaks during a news conference in Tokyo on the problems in Japan's technical intern program, with Eng Pisey, right, a Cambodian technical trainee, and Huang Shihu, a Chinese technical trainee in Tokyo. Ibusuk called the internship program a disguise to use trainees as mere cheap labor that should be scrapped and replaced with new legislation that would officially open the door to foreign workers to do unskilled jobs and possibly eventually become citizens. (Eugene Hoshiko/AP)


    By Simon Denyer and
    Akiko Kashiwagi
    December 7 at 2:40 PM


    TOKYO — Japan’s parliament passed an immigration law Saturday that aims to attract 345,000 foreign workers over the next five years, seeking to plug gaps in the country’s rapidly shrinking and aging workforce.


    Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government forced through the law despite protests from opposition parties that argued the legislation was vague and hastily drawn up. Critics also claim it fails to address the question of social inclusion and rights for foreign workers.


    But the law is driven by some inescapable demographic pressures. The fertility rate has fallen to 1.4 children per women, far below the replacement rate of 2.1, while the population is already dropping by about 400,000 people a year.


    That places a significant burden on Japan’s economy, with fewer taxpayers and more dependents. The proportion of people over 65 years old has already risen to 28 percent — one of the highest in the world.


    Even with the new measures, Japan keeps one of the tightest reins on immigration among industrialized nations. Yet Abe’s government — like others in the West — must increasingly grapple with an economic future that depends on bolstering the workforce from the outside.


    Japan’s upper house of parliament passed the law by 161 votes to 76 just after 4 a.m. Saturday, after a day when the opposition parties raised unsuccessful blocking motions. It followed a vote in the lower chamber last week, with Abe’s ruling coalition enjoying large majorities in both houses. It will come into effect next April.


    The legislation is designed to attract “semiskilled workers” across a range of industries where shortages are most severe, including construction, the hotel industry, cleaning and elderly care.


    They will be allowed in on an initial five-year visa, with the possibility to then qualify for a second type of visa for an additional five-year period.


    To address concerns that the immigrants would depress wages for Japanese workers, the new law stipulates they must be paid the same as their Japanese peers. But many other details — including rules to prevent labor abuses — remain to be fleshed out and are due to be specified in a Justice Ministry ordinance before the end of the year.


    “It is clear to everyone that the immigration bill designed to accept more foreign workers is a slipshod job far from perfection,” the Mainichi newspaper wrote in an editorial, “but the incredibly arrogant government and the ruling camp have blocked their ears to criticism and even constructive proposals on the legislation.”


    The country’s weak opposition has found new life in the immigration debate, with critics of the bill arguing Japan first needed to overhaul or abolish an existing scheme under which around 250,000 foreigners work in Japan.


    The program is supposed to bring in workers from other Asian countries to gain skills in Japan. In practice, critics say, workers are paid little, work incredibly long hours, and get little or no training.


    Opposition politicians forced the Justice Ministry to reveal this week that 63 foreign workers died while on this scheme between 2016 and 2018, including through accidents or suicide.


    Akira Nagatsuma of the opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan argued the new law could damage Japan’s global image.


    “The system is not in place to accept foreigners as human beings,” he wrote in an op-ed. “How do we prepare for their living? How do we protect their rights as workers? What about their social welfare? What about their housing? What about their Japanese language education? None of these have been dealt with.”


    Iki Tanaka, who educates the children of foreign workers at the YSC Global School in the western Tokyo suburb of Fussa, said the issue of social inclusion — starting with language education — cannot be ignored.


    “In a few years, many people may come to realize: ‘without us noticing, the number of foreigners has grown so much,’” she said. “We may face a situation where a series of troubles are happening here and there that we did not anticipate. That’s what I am very worried about.”


    Unlike entrants on the intern training scheme, the new workers will be allowed to choose jobs and switch employers once inside Japan. That has sparked concerns that they may shun sparsely populated rural areas, where wages are lower but needs are greater, and instead gravitate to the crowded cities.


    Opinion polls show most Japanese either favor inviting in more foreign workers or believe the country has no choice given the labor shortage. But many also view the current law as too rushed.


    The law is an attempt to attract more workers to Japan while still trying to make it very tough for them to settle permanently. But some experts say it doesn’t do enough to address the yawning labor gap.


    Broadcaster NHK said Germany, Korea and Taiwan are all competing with Japan to attract elderly care workers from Vietnam, with many people preferring the pay and conditions offered elsewhere.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/world...=.6ea93adbced7

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    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    We could load up many planes and ships with Mexicans and Central Americans and help out our friends in Japan and the asylum seekers looking for work.

    WIN, WIN, WIN.
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  3. #3
    Senior Member Judy's Avatar
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    So sad, such a mistake. Poor Japan.
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    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    Japan's population shrinks for seventh consecutive year as it falls to 126.70 million...
    https://www.japantimes.co.jp/.../jap...tive-year-fall...
    Apr 13, 2018 - Japan's population fell for a seventh consecutive year in 2017, with people 65 or over accounting for a record 27.7 percent of the total, ...
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  5. #5
    Senior Member Judy's Avatar
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    That's good, their population for such a small island was probably too large, their citizens are correcting that over-population. Their government has no right to force population growth on the people of Japan that obviously they do not want, same as what our government has been doing to the citizens of the US for decades. The people of Japan should protest this and stop it before it starts.
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    Senior Member Beezer's Avatar
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    Send them our illegals...they can have them all
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  7. #7
    Senior Member Judy's Avatar
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    Honestly, I don't even think this is driven by the Japanese, I think it's driven by foreign globalist companies operating in Japan, maybe even some of ours. I don't know this, it's just a suspicion.
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    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    As Japan eyes foreign labor, rural town wants to go further

    REUTERS
    December 7, 2018 at 13:25 JST

    AKITAKATA--Brazilian Luan Dartora Taniuti settled in the remote municipality of Akitakata in southwest Japan when he was nine. Leonel Maia of East Timor has been there nearly seven years. Filipina Gladys Gayeta is a newly arrived trainee factory worker, but must leave in less than three years.

    Japan's strict immigration laws mean Taniuti, who has Japanese ancestry, and Maia, who is married to a Japanese, are among the relatively few foreigners the country allows to stay for the long term.


    Prime Minister Shinzo Abe hopes to pass a law this week that would allow in more foreign blue-collar workers such as Gayeta for limited periods. But Akitakata's mayor, Kazuyoshi Hamada, says his shrinking community, like others in Japan, needs foreigners of all backgrounds to stay.


    The rural city has more than 600 non-Japanese, roughly 2 percent of its population, which has shrunk more than 10 percent since its incorporation in 2004.


    "Given the low birth rate and aging population, when you consider who can support the elderly and the factories ... we need foreigners,"
    said Hamada, 74, who in March unveiled a plan that explicitly seeks them as long-term residents. "I want them to expand the immigration law and create a system where anyone can come to the country."


    Japan's population decline is well-known, but the problem is especially acute in remote, rural locales such as Akitakata.


    Hamada's proposal to attract foreigners as "teijusha," or long-term residents, is the first of its kind in immigration-shy Japan. Abe is pitching his plan as a way to address Japan's acute labour shortage but denies it's an "immigration policy."


    "Hamada openly mentioned Japanese immigration policy and that is very courageous," said Toshihiro Menju, managing director of the Japan Center for International Exchange in Tokyo, a think tank.

    "Akitakata is kind of a forerunner."


    A STRUGGLING CITY

    The population of Akitakata, formed from the merger of six small townships, dropped to 28,910 in November from 30,983 in 2014. About 40 percent of residents are 65 or older.

    Car parts factories and farms are crying out for workers, many houses stand empty, darkened streets are deserted by early evening and the aisles of a discount supermarket are mostly empty by 8 p.m.


    Hamada says long-term resident foreigners are the solution. But integrating them will be crucial; many cities were unprepared for earlier influxes of foreign workers, experts said.


    Blue-collar foreign workers have typically arrived under three legal avenues: long-term visas begun in the 1990s for the mostly Latin American descendents of ethnic Japanese; a "technical trainees program" often criticized as an exploitative backdoor to unskilled labor; and foreign students allowed to work up to 28 hours a week.


    The country had 2.5 million foreign residents as of January 2018, up 7.5 percent from a year earlier and about 2 percent of the total population. The number of native Japanese dropped 0.3 percent to 125.2 million in the same period, the ninth straight annual decline.


    Akitakata's foreign population is about two-thirds trainees from places such as China, Vietnam, Thailand and the Philippines. Most are only allowed to stay up to three years.


    The rest are long-term residents, such as Maia, and Brazilians like Taniuti who stayed even after the global financial crisis prompted the central government to offer one-way tickets to his native country.


    "When I feared having no job, I thought 'It's enough if I can eat,'" said Taniuti, who five years later set up his own company, where his two brothers and father now work.


    DIVIDED VIEWS


    Akitakata residents are divided on whether to attract more foreigners, though less wary than in the past.


    A 2017 survey showed 48 percent of Akitakata residents thought it was "good" to have foreigners live in the city, up from 30.8 percent in 2010.


    That was similar to the 45 percent nationally who backed Abe's planned reforms in a November Asahi newspaper poll.


    "I think our lives would be enriched with different cultures. But Japanese are not skilled at communication and language is the biggest barrier," said Yuko Okita, 64, who works at her husband's local taxi service.


    Maia, 33, said that he got along well with locals--he is a member of a volunteer firefighter brigade--but that his half-Japanese daughter had been bullied at school.


    A media report that Hamada set a numerical target for an increase in foreign residents, which the mayor called "misleading," sparked a protest by a right-wing group from nearby Hiroshima.


    Akitakata also may have a hard time attracting new residents of any nationality simply because it is remote and small.


    "Akitakata is slow-paced. It's not attractive for young people. But it's a great place to raise kids," said Taniuti, a father of two.


    Gayeta, 22, a trainee at a car parts factory, said there was little to do in Akitakata after work.


    "There is no place to go, just yama (mountains)," she said, mixing English and Japanese.


    NEXT STEPS


    To be sure, little has changed in Akitakata since Hamada announced his plan.


    The city has an office where a Brazilian resident offers advice in Portuguese.


    Proponents want to improve Japanese-language teaching for foreigners and are considering how to use abandoned homes to house them.


    Abe's proposed legislation, which he wants enacted this month to take effect in April, would allow 345,150 blue-collar workers to enter Japan over five years in sectors like construction that are suffering from serious labor shortages.


    Opponents say his proposal is hasty and ill-conceived.


    The law would create two new categories of visas for blue-collar workers: one for those who could stay up to five years but could not bring family members; and another for more highly skilled foreigners who could bring families and might eventually be eligible for residency. Details are not spelled out in the law.


    But the path to permanent residence is steep: one standard requirement is to live in Japan for 10 consecutive years, with exceptions for the highly skilled professionals Japan is eager to attract.


    "The truth of the matter is the central government is not basing acceptance of foreign workers on the premise of long-term residence," said Meiji University professor Keizo Yamawaki, who helped Akitakata draft its plan.

    http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201812070020.html

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  9. #9
    Senior Member Judy's Avatar
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    They will regret it. But it's their country, their decision. They'll be accused of racism because they're only letting in Asians. They'll use the foreign workers as slave laborers and create a worker's rights uproar. Same O, Same O, everywhere this goes, but it's their road to go or not.
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