On December 10th, YOLO JAPAN Corporation, a media company that operates a job information website for foreign nationals in Japan, revealed that according to a survey they conducted, about 70% of foreign residents in Japan approve of accepting more foreign workers as part of the reform of immigration law.
Some supported the influx of foreign workers stating that it would be a solution for labor shortages and a key to sustainable economic growth in Japan, helping to cope with the aging population. Additionally, others pointed out that the presence of foreign workers in the society would help Japanese people understand how to deal with people from different backgrounds as economic globalization expands around the world.
Besides the positive reaction to the new immigration policy, this survey did also identify that about 30% of foreign workers think they are receiving lower wages than their Japanese counterparts, and about 20% of them feel their limited knowledge of the Japanese language is negatively affecting their life in Japan.
Regarding wage discrimination, some think they are excluded from the gratuity system at their workplace purely because they are not Japanese, and others suspect that their lack of Japanese proficiency is preventing them from receiving wages that are competitive with their Japanese counterparts.
In relation to the challenges foreign residents face in Japan, 26% of the survey participants answered that the greatest hurdle was filling in the paperwork required to get a mobile phone contract or to rent an apartment. When asked to provide specific comments, the following topped the list: “contracts are only available in Japanese”, “foreign credit cards are not accepted for payment”, “there is too much paperwork”, “the system is too complicated”, “the Japanese taxation system is too complicated/not foreigner-friendly”, and “getting a credit card or loan is particularly not very easy”.
This survey was conducted between late November and early December 2018, asking 290 foreign residents who hold a valid work visa in Japan. The survey participants come from a wide variety of countries including the United States (12%), the Philippines (10%), Indonesia (7.3%), Spain (4.6%), India (4.2%), Malaysia (4.2%), as well as other nationalities.
With the reform of the current Japanese immigration policy, various issues surrounding the Technical Intern Training Program have been among the major topics of discussion in Japanese society. However, the results of this survey show that some foreign workers are also poorly treated at the workplace. At the same time, the results point to the fact that a lack of Japanese language skills can pose a significant problem in surviving in Japan.
Given the results of this survey, it is essential to establish a welcoming environment where non-Japanese speakers can easily acquire the language if Japan expects to accept more foreign workers into its labor market. Equally important is encouraging Japanese people to learn foreign languages and nurture cross-cultural understanding so that foreign workers can acclimatize to life in Japan.
[Reference] Awareness of foreign residents in Japan about the reform of the immigration control law
[Reference] Details of YOLO JAPAN
[Reference] YOLO JAPAN website