Implement support measures for new immigration law
12/02/2019 By Morikawa Hiroko Implement support measures for new immigration law

Implement support measures for new immigration law

The amended immigration control law, enacted last December to open the door wider to workers from oversea to fill the domestic manpower shortage to workers from oversea to fill the domestic manpower shortage, takes effect in April. But with less than two months to go before the new program starts, the implementation of measures to provide various support for foreign workers, such as multilingual information on living in Japanese society , or concrete steps to ensure they have adequate working conditions and to prevent steps to ensure they have adequate working conditions and to prevent their concentration in big urban areas remains slow. These measures are essential to intrude the program, in which the government expects to accept up to 345,000 workers in its first five years. The government needs to accelerate its efforts to take necessary steps to prepare for welcoming the foreign workers. 


In a major turnaround in the government’s immigration policy, the amended law creates new visa statuses for workers who will fill simple labor positions in 14 designate sectors that are facing a manpower shortage . To help accept the workers in large numbers as members of the local communites in which they’ll work, the government plans to set up about 100 centres in prefectures and municipalities across Japan that offer information and couseling about local life in 10 languages, such as English, Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese. How and when such centers will be launched, however, remains up in the air.


While the state intends to provide fiscal assistance for the local governments that runs the center, it is unclear, for example, whether all the relevant municipalities will be able to secure the necessary man power , including interpreters who would answer worker’s questions in multiple languages on a wider range of issues such as medical services. 


As the new system kicks in, concern remains widespread that foreign workers might concentrate in big urban areas, which offer more better-paying jobs, leaving the serious manpower shortage in rural areas unaddressed. The government has pledged that it will take measures to this outcome, and explains that it may urge businesses in big metropolitan areas to refrain form hiring such workers if too many of them are already employed in those areas. But it remains to be seen how effective these government request will be to change the flow of workers – or wether the workers, who will have the freedom to change jobs under certain conditions, can be stopped from moving to areas that offer higher wages   


A group of ruling Liberal Democratic Party lawmakers reportedly plans to explore a legislative step to introduce a uniform legal minimum wage nationwide- instead of the current ones that are set in each prefecture to reflect difference in local cost of living business’s capacity to pay workers- to prevent a possible flow of the workers to large urban areas. However, the gap in the minimum hourly wages to large urban areas. However, the gap in the minimum hourly wages between Tokyo, which offers the highest wage among the 47 perfectures, and Hokkaido, which has the lowest, is as wide as 200 yen an hour.


The government says it will oblige businesses that hire workers under the new program to offer them at least the same level of wages as their Japanese employees. In a recent survey of prefectural and municipal governments by Kodo News, however, roughly half of the respondents said they are concerned that local business may not be able to ensure the same wages for foreign workers as their Japanese counterparts. Some cited difficulties in the financial conditions of the local companies. While others said it difficult because the businesses turn to foreign workers to save on manpower expenses. 


The number of foreigner who work in a Japan hit a record 1.46 million as of last October- a 14 percent increase from a year earlier and triple the number a decade ago. The sharpest increase is a number of participants in the Technical Intern Training Program from developing countries, who are supposed to learn job skills here and take them home. But the program has in fact been deemed a cover for supplying cheap labor to sectors that find it tough to secure domestic manpower. Its been found that many of the interns have been paid wages below legal minimum levels and have suffered labour abuse such as unpaid wages. The new program’s rule ensuring foreign workers are paid the same wages below legal minimum levels and have suffered labour abuse such as unpaid wages. The new program’s rule ensuring foreign workers are paid the same wages. The new program’s rule ensuring foreign workers are paid the same wages as their Japanese counterparts need to be enforced. 


The government has also promised to eliminate the role of malicious brokers- who exact large broker fees from trainees before they come to Japan, leaving many of them heavily indebted- in the employment of foreign workers under the new program. It reportedly plans to tighten controls on such brokers by concluding bilateral agreements with countries from which many workers are expected to arrive. Such efforts also need to be accelerated.

Source: Prime Minister’s Office of Japan


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