News about the labor issues of “Technical interns”, “foreign students” has been seen frequently these days in Japan. Working time and working environment and how to secure people to assign in harsh working environment like farm work, fisheries are the controversial issues along with this technical interns and foreign student labor issues.
Japan has tens of thousands of convenience stores that are running 24/7/365 including year end holidays and New year holidays. According to Japan franchise association, the number of stores as of November 2017 in Japan were 55,354 in total. 8,500 stores have been additionally increased compared with the number of stores 5 years ago. However, as the status quo, it is really hard time for them to find someone to work for.
Shinjuku where Japanese language school, vocational school, college and university concentrates holds the most new adults (in Japan、20-year-old who has their coming-of-age ceremony within that year) in 23 Wards in Tokyo . There are about 1790 new adults there and 46% of total new adults is non-Japanese.
The second largest number of new adults holder ward is Toshima-ku where there is Ikebukuro. There are about 1200 new adults there and about 40% is non-Japanese new adults. The third largest one is Nakano-ku. There are about 860 and 27% is non-Japanese.It is not the rare case that you can see non-Japanese new adults wear Kimono for their coming-of-age ceremony.
The industries which mainly need physical labor that Japanese avoid to do seriously lack the manpower. But the government doesn’t accept foreigners who want to work as manual labor . So there are a loophole to dodge their way through regulation to manage to work in Japan, which is “technical intern” and “language student”. The Japanese government allows companies to accept foreign labors for the purpose of “technology transfer” and “manpower training”
However, technical interns acceptance is limited to about 80 types of industries such as construction, fisheries, farm work, manufacture of metal, machine and fabric, cloth. In November last year, nursing has been added by an expanded intern system. Technical interns can work for 3 years to 5 years but unfortunately, they don’t become skillful during this term. The name of “technical intern” makes us imagine that interns can potentially get skill to make the most of it for the industry but the truth is not different from expatriate labor for a short term.
Convenience stores also request foreigners to work for but the government proposes a condition to convenience stores that they need to hire foreigners in the name of manpower training. They can’t hire people on the reason of “a countermeasure for lack of manpower” .
Technical interns system has so many trivial regulations to protect its theory. For example, Interns need to receive training in Japan in the same industries where they worked before coming to Japan and they need to return back to the same job after going back to their countries. If a intern hopes to work for a convenience store in Japan, he/she needs to already have an experience working in retail industry before.
Asian developing countries like Nepal and Vietnam where Japan accepts the most interns don’t popularize retail industry like Japan and qualified persons for this intern system are a few. Therefore, the most of intern applicants pay “fee” to a broker and it counterfeits their job history. For even a job type admitted officially by this intern system, falsification of applicants’ job history by brokers is rampant for granted. A broker cleverly uses a catch phrase “you will be active in retail industry after coming back from Japan” to gather applicants but when we see the circumstance of this intern system, its mechanism is disconnected from reality.
There are too many regulations on the intern system for young people in developing countries to work in Japan. Job changing is not allowed, and their salary are around 100,000 yen net a month. The system says intern’s salary is equivalent to Japanese one or more but the actual condition is applied to minimum wage. Moreover, dwelling costs are automatically deducted from their salary. You can understand how much wage differentials are there between Japanese workers and foreign interns.
For that reason, most of foreign people who work in Japan are granted permission to stay as “Student”. Working time limitation for student visa “within 28 hours a week” can be broken easily if doing two or more jobs at the same time. Brokers propagate like if studying abroad in Japan, it is easy to earn 200,000 to 300,000 yen a month and they also propagate language students can choose a job freely and change workplace whenever they want and if it goes well, there is a chance to get a full time work for a long time. Because of this, the number of foreigners who pretend to be language students and enter Japan aiming at working has increased rapidly.
Student visa is issued only to foreigners who have ability to pay all of his/her expenses during his/her stay in Japan so “Student visa” applicants need to submit the certificates that show the balance of their savings accounts and their parent’s annual income.
In Vietnam, unless applicants are wealthy enough, they can’t fulfill the Japanese Government’s conditions and standard that students can take care of their lives in Japan. So they pay a bribe to a bank and an administrative agency and request these to make a document that describes necessary amount of balance that the Japanese government requires applicants to prepare.The amount of balance is nonsense but the document is issued “officially” by a bank and an administrative agency so that we can’t recognize it as counterfeit. Japan accepts these foreigners as “Student” by deliberately overlooking this trick.
Japanese government’s “Plan for 300,000 Exchange Students” is the trigger for conniving a back‐scratching alliance of dispatching country’s government and private brokers and banks ,and the Japanese government assumes an attitude of pretending not to realize this situation. After applicants enter Japan, they must witness the reality that they are taken advantage of as minimum wage labors in an industry that lacks of manpower.
There are so many “camouflaged students” also working in Convenience stores. But “Students” who can work at Convenience stores are looked as “elites” who have excellent Japanese speaking ability.
Most significant workplace where “camouflaged students” work is where we don’t usually realize if we make a living regularly. For example, workshop or factories located in a remote area of Tokyo.