Asian nations to increase labour flow to Japan

​JAKARTA/SHENYANG, China (The Japan News/ANN) - As the government begins accepting more foreign workers from April, various measures are being considered or taken to prepare for the move in nine Asian countries with which the government plans to sign bilateral accords.

Such measures include forming new contracts with the Japanese side and increasing study programs about Japan, with the aim of cultivating human resources who will serve the country after returning home. On the other hand, how to deal with exploitative brokers will be a challenge.

New employment opportunity

The authority of West Java Province in Indonesia and the International Foundation of Educational and Cultural Exchange, a Japanese incorporated foundation, concluded an agreement in November that offers university students studying nursing care in the province the opportunity to attend training courses at nursing care facilities in Japan for a year. If the students earn positive assessments from the facilities, they would be offered official employment contracts after they graduate under the new framework of receiving more foreign workers. Three hundred students are slated to be sent to Japan this year.

“While many students want to work in Japan, not many actually continue working there,” said a teaching staff member at the Indonesia University of Education, which is among the institutions to send students to Japan.

Learn nursing care skills

The combined number of workers staying in Japan from eight of the nine nations in Asia, excluding Mongolia, stands at about 900,000, making up around 70 percent of all foreign workers in Japan. With the introduction of the new system, the figure from those countries is expected to increase further.

In Myanmar, the number of temporary staff service companies, which train people for working in Japan, exceeded 20 recently. They run their businesses mainly in the largest city of Yangon and the second largest city of Mandalay. This is partly due to the 2017 expansion of the Technical Intern Training Program, and these companies are preparing to meet the demand, as the new system will be implemented in April. 

In reality, the governments of countries supplying Japan with human resources expect that workers will bring back necessary know-how, in addition to ensuring job opportunities and securing foreign currency. 

The average age of people in Myanmar is currently less than 30, but the government expects the population will be an aging one in the future. “We expect them to serve in nursing care after they return home,” a government official in charge of labor, immigration and population affairs said to The Yomiuri Shimbun. The statement explains one of the reasons why the government is willing to send workers to Japan. 

The situation is the same in China, which sends the largest number of workers to Japan at about 370,000. Due to the one-child policy, which continued until 2015, China has seen a rapidly aging society. Both the private and public sectors in China are looking for expanding collaboration with Japan — which has already become a highly aging society — to learn about nursing care services.

“It’s likely that more people will come to Japan to work in the nursing care sector,” a Japanese government official said. 

Exploitative brokers

As more people are expected to come, more problems will also come to light.

There are at least 1,600 brokers in Vietnam that send about 240,000 workers to Japan — the second highest number of workers after China. Some exploitative brokers have approached potential applicants through fictitious advertising, stating that “Even if you go to Japan as a foreign student, you will be able to make a lot of money.” Others have demanded unreasonably expensive commission fees. One broker did not hide their high expectations for business opportunities, telling The Yomiuri Shimbun, “The level of commission fees in the market will be around $5,000 [about ¥550,000] per person.” 

Relevant authorities of Japan and Vietnam signed a memorandum in October on sharing information and providing accurate information in a bid to eliminate illegal brokers. But according to a diplomatic source, the Vietnamese authority in charge of the issue has shown no sign of cracking down on those brokers.