Terrie's Take 817 -- Guest Worker Program About to Start, e-biz news from Japan
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
- Travel Picks -- Jofukuji temple in Fukui, Sapporo Tower in Hokkaido
- News Credits
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+++ WHAT'S NEW
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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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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- 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.
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+++ UPCOMING EVENTS/ANNOUNCEMENTS
No announcements this week.
No feedback this week.
+++ TRAVEL DESTINATIONS PICKS
=> 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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+++ ABOUT US
Written by: Terrie Lloyd (terrie.lloyd at japaninc.com)
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