Terrie's Take 817 -- Guest Worker Program About to Start, e-biz news from Japan

Terrie's Take terrie at mailman.japaninc.com
Mon Aug 31 08:35:13 JST 2015

* * * * * * * * TERRIE'S TAKE - BY TERRIE LLOYD * * * * * *
A weekly roundup of news & information from Terrie Lloyd, a long-term 
technology and media entrepreneur living in Japan. 

General Edition Sunday, August 30, 2015, Issue No. 817

- What's New -- Guest Worker Program About to Start
- News -- El Nino means wetter, milder weather
- Upcoming Events
- Corrections/Feedback
- Travel Picks -- Jofukuji temple in Fukui, Sapporo Tower in Hokkaido
- News Credits

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It looks like special foreign nanny visas are about to become law. Not 
those few foreign nanny visas which can already be requested by a very 
small number of qualified expats, but new ones for many thousands of 
nannies who can be hired by regular Japanese working women.

We reported last June (2014) that PM Abe's Council on Economic and 
Fiscal Policy predicted that at least 2.2m Japanese women would return 
to work if they had caretakers for their kids or elderly parents. The 
problem for Japan is that there are not enough Japanese nationals 
available to work as nannies at the hourly rates that ordinary 
"returning-to-work" women could actually afford, so the government has 
decided that it will create a new visa category to fill the gap.

To prevent an unstoppable flood of foreign immigrants, the new visas 
appear to come with restrictions that we presume are designed to prevent 
"leakage" of the nannies over into the regular workforce. Firstly, it 
seems that the visas will only be good for 3 years, after which, if the 
nannies haven't managed to marry a Japanese citizen or prove they have 
the skills to move to a regular work visa, we suppose that they will be 
required to return home. Secondly, the employment will be through 
licenced worker dispatch companies, who will then contract the nannies 
out to the households. Thirdly, the scheme is limited to just Osaka and 

There appear to be at least three temporary staffing companies involved 
in the first tranche of several hundred hires: Osaka-based housekeeping 
firm Duskin, a Tokyo housekeeping firm named Bears, and Pasona Lifecare. 
It not surprising to learn that all three will be recruiting in the 
Philippines, although apparently Duskin is also going to try to tap 
applicants in Japan as well.

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[...Article continues]

The reason why this new visa class is of interest to us is that it marks 
the first time that Japan has come clean about guest-worker visas and 
isn't trying to hide this disadvantaged section of the population. In 
the past, foreign workers were either smoke-screened as "trainees", a 
sneaky system that has become discredited after several overwork deaths 
and murders, or they have had sufficient training and skills to come in 
under a regular teaching or engineering work visa and therefore could 
switch jobs as guaranteed by the Japanese constitution and maintain 
residence for as long as they had a job.

These new visas look like they are going to function like a proper guest 
worker visa, which means the person gets to stay 3 years then they are 
expected to return home again. Although we question the ethics of such 
visas, many other countries needing foreign unskilled labor have similar 
arrangements. If this program is successful, we expect a dramatic 
increase in the number of manual labor workers brought in under the 
system, and for it to be extended to households in and around the 
capital of Tokyo, not just Kanagawa-ken. This could be the start of a 
new immigration wave into the country.

Does coming in on a guest worker visa mean more virtual slavery as it 
has under the trainee program? Well, it is hard to say. The government 
is saying that the companies employing the nannies will have to employ 
them full-time and pay wages equal or higher than those received by 
Japanese employees. We find that very hard to believe, otherwise, 
there'd be a flood of local women who are currently stuck in 
part-time/contract positions who'd be interested in filling these jobs. 
Instead, we imagine that companies will be using some kind of 
work-around to justify rock-bottom salaries.

For example, they could employ just one Japanese who is severely 
disadvantaged already, to set a low local salary rate, and keep paying 
their newly arrived foreign staff at that level. Or maybe they will 
simply advertise jobs for JPY750 and after getting no takers locally 
will claim that this is the going rate so they will pay their foreign 
workers JPY800 to show that they are payment above market. Who knows?

Perhaps even more interesting than the scams will be the inevitable 
legal challenges over the rights of the people holding this kind of 
visa. Firstly there will likely be cases where a guest worker decides 
that she/he wants to switch employers. Will she/he be allowed to do 
that? Secondly, how will they be confined to work within the Osaka and 
Kanagawa areas? What rights will they have to live or work in the next 
city over? Surely this has the capacity to become a human rights 
problem? Then, thirdly, the constitution guarantees everyone authorized 
to work here the freedom to work where/when they wish, so what happens 
if the government is challenged on a constitutional basis?

Anyway, we see this new visa and influx of nannies as a significant 
thawing of Japan's immigration policy, and once Tokyo is allowed to join 
the program, we will probably see thousands of new workers a month 
coming to Japan. This could well kick off a major social change in 
Japan's attitude to foreigners. For a start it will create new demand 
for bed town accommodation and put money into the pockets of local 
landlords. It will also allow more local Japanese women re-enter the 
workforce and thus alleviate some of Japan's worker shortage. It will 
put a lot more community-positive foreigners into direct contact with 
local families, and this will hopefully contribute to a softening of 
peoples' attitudes towards immigration in general. And finally, those 
Japanese kids who wind up with Filipina nannies will have a natural 
advantage in learning English.

We only hope that the nannies are treated better than foreign trainees 
have been, so that the program gets a good reputation from all concerned.

...The information janitors/


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+++ NEWS

- Taiwan train cards to feature porn star
- Todai start-up activity heats up
- North Korean missile program is major concern
- Israeli training for cyber security
- El Nino means wetter, milder weather

=> Taiwan train cards to feature porn star

We had to laugh upon learning that a Taipei metro train pass production 
company plans to feature a pre-paid card with a photo of Japanese porn 
star Yui Hatano on it. The company is planning to release two versions 
of the train pass: a "devil" edition with Hatano-san dressed in black, 
and an "angel" version of her dressed in white. ***Ed: Sounds like the 
Mayor of Taipei was quite upset when he heard about the cards. That 
said, it looks like they will go on sale mid-September, as planned. The 
profits will apparently go to charity.** (Source: TT commentary from 
BBC.com, Aug 28, 2015)


=> Todai start-up activity heats up

The "Entrepreneur Plaza" start-up incubator being run by the University 
of Tokyo (Todai) has come under the spotlight after Chinese search 
engine company Baidu bought out a 6-year old online ad company operating 
there. The company, popIn Inc., was funded with JPY40m from Todai's UTEC 
fund in 2008 and was sold to Baidu for a sum said to be between JPY1-2bn 
in June. The CEO of popIn, Tao Cheng, was a masters graduate from Todai. 
Apparently the Todai incubator has more than 20 start-ups operating in 
its facility. (Source: TT commentary from wsj.com, Aug 27, 2015)


=> North Korean missile program is major concern

It's no surprise that the Ministry of Defence's white paper for 2015 
focuses on North Korea's ballistic missile program. The ministry is 
concerned that the North Korean military command is becoming radicalized 
after a purge of senior officers and the brutal execution of 
Vice-Chairman Song-thaek. The paper also notes that since North Korea's 
military capability falls far short of South Korea's (with or without 
American presence there), this means North Korea is more likely to focus 
on nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles to compensate. ***Ed: There is 
also the fact that North Korea makes pretty handy revenue out of 
supplying Iran and other nuclear hopefuls around the world, so this is 
another reason for them to emphasize this this part of their military 
capability.** (Source: thediplomat.com, Aug 28, 2015)


=> Israeli training for cyber security

Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) has signed an agreement to supply Dai 
Nippon Printing (DNP) employees with cyber security training. IAI is 
well known for creating a sophisticated methodology for protecting 
sensitive industries in Israel -- called TAME Range. The methodology 
includes a boot camp, dummy networks to practice on, and scenarios to 
learn from. ***Ed: According to the article, there are 80,000 unfilled 
cybersecurity job positions in Japan. It sounds like the security sector 
in Japan is chronically under served, and should be a great opportunity 
for others wanting to follow IAI's example.** (Source: TT commentary 
from timesofisrael.com, Aug 28, 2015)


=> El Nino means wetter, milder weather

While the rest of the world is dealing with weather extremes -- and so 
were we up until a week ago -- the El Nino weather pattern has now 
arrived, and the Japan Met Agency's prediction for the next three months 
is that it will be warmer as we go into the fall (but without the 
extreme heat we had in July), and wetter. El Nino means that it will be 
drier in the southern hemisphere, and thus Japan is the main beneficiary 
of this weather pattern. It does mean, though, that snow falls in Honshu 
may be later and lighter than in normal years. (Source: TT commentary 
from reuters.com, Aug 25, 2015)


NOTE: Broken links
Some online news sources remove their articles after just a few days of
posting them, thus breaking our links -- we apologize for the inconvenience.


-------------- Have a Tour to Promote? --------------------

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inventory on our new Tours Marketplace (http://bit.ly/1IsujUw). Listing 
is free, and only successful bookings will attract a marketing fee. Take 
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No feedback this week.



=> Tale of Echizen Jofukuji Temple
Taira Clan's survival in Genji-ruled Japan

In late March this year, when the footsteps of spring finally began to 
be heard in the snow country Fukui, I visited Ajimano-en Park to see 
plum blossoms. However, to my dismay when I arrived I found no plum 
blossoms blooming there. Disappointed, I looked around to see if there 
was something else I could enjoy, but there was nothing except for the 
endless patches of rice fields stretching ahead of me. Still, I couldn't 
give up. It took me an hour by car to get here. I couldn't go home until 
I saw something, anything, could I?

I continued to drive around through rice paddies in my pursuit of 
'something to see', and eventually stumbled across an old temple. On the 
stone marker at the entrance was written, 'Jofuku-ji Temple', beside 
which the impressive words 'Jofuku-ji Garden: National Site of Scenic 
Beauty' were added. That's when I remembered that someone once told me 
there was a famous garden in Echizen City, and I thought this must be 
it. However, I couldn't see anyone else at this 'National Site of Scenic 
Beauty' on a supposedly busy weekend, so I was somewhat skeptical, but 
on the other hand, this happens a lot in Fukui so I decided to go inside 

As I walked along the pathway and reached the temple entrance, a stone 
marker came into sight. It read, 'A family temple of the Taira Clan'. I 
wondered, 'Why in the world is there a family temple of the Taira Clan 
out here?' Later, my question was answered by an old man in the temple 
who told me a long story about the Taira Clan (I banged at the door of 
the temple to let me see the garden tucked away behind it).


=> 360° view of Sapporo
90 meters above the ground from Sapporo TV Tower

If Tokyo has Tokyo Tower and Tokyo Skytree then Sapporo has Sapporo TV 
Tower. Even if it's not as high as those two towers in Tokyo, it's 
pretty amazing to see Sapporo from that height and you do get a 
beautiful and uninterrupted 360° view of the city.

It's already been 58 years since the 147.2 meter Sapporo TV Tower was 
completed in August 1957. Located on the eastern edge of Odori Park, it 
has been a Sapporo landmark and has seen development of the city for 
more than half a century. From the observation deck, which is 
approximately 90 meters above the ground, visitors can enjoy the 
panoramic views. Odori Park which is a beautiful park that has flowers 
blooming from season to season and hosts various international events 
for citizens and tourists throughout the year. Visitors on the 
observation deck can enjoy a view of the entire city as far as the Sea 
of Japan, the magnificent Ishikari Plain in the background, and the 
Okura and Maruyama mountains.

Digital clocks were installed at the height of 65 meters from the 
ground. This installation was suggested by the founder of the company 
Konosuke Matsushita, who thought these digital clocks would draw more 
attention to the structure.




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Written by: Terrie Lloyd (terrie.lloyd at japaninc.com)

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