Terrie's Take 954 - Japan's Modern-day Slavery Program Gets New Lipstick, ebiz news from Japan

Terrie's Take terrie at mailman.japaninc.com
Sun Jul 22 21:28:01 JST 2018

* * * * * * * * 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, Jul 22, 2018, Issue No. 954

- What's New -- Japan's Modern-day Slavery Program Gets New Lipstick
- News -- Russia again floats idea of bridge from Sakhalin to Hokkaido
- Upcoming Events
- Corrections/Feedback
- Travel Picks -- Beppu Fireworks, Spooky Paintings in Kochi
- News Credits

SUBSCRIBE to, UNSUBSCRIBE from Terrie's Take at:

http://www.japaninc.com/terries_take, or,


If you're an employer of people, whether as a company owner or a 
manager, you'll know full well how difficult it is to find good staff 
recently. Yes, it's always been difficult to find experienced mid-career 
hires in Japan, because of the risk aversion of the general population. 
Particularly anyone over 30, once they have a reasonable job they want 
to keep it for life. And if you are a multinational, there is the added 
challenge of finding bilinguals.

It is no secret that Japan is in the middle of a severe manpower 
shortage. Although the government was warned decades ago about the aging 
workforce, half-hearted measures to turn the birthrate around and denial 
that immigration was a solution have meant that we are now in the middle 
of the worst worker shortfall in post-War history. For the first time 
there are more job offers than job seekers across EVERY prefecture of 
the country - which the Abe government trumpets as proof that Abenomics 
is working. However, while he toots his own horn everyone else knows the 
situation is really because of the mass departure of baby boomers from 
the work force over the last 10 years, plus the fact that young couples 
have no confidence about their futures (and thus are not having kids).

Indeed, the situation is dire. The national labor pool is forecast to 
shrink from about 62m workers today (down from the peak of 86.99m in 
1997) to just 30m by 2050. In health care alone there is a shortage of 
500,000 workers. In manufacturing, the job openings ratio is 2.74 jobs 
for every applicant, about double the national average of 1.33. Farming, 
construction, retail... every sector is felling the pinch, and of course 
since the operators of these businesses are also the main supporters of 
the LDP, they are letting the Abe government know in no uncertain terms 
that they are not happy.

The government's bandaid solution, as we could guess all along, is to 
bring in more unskilled/low-skilled foreigners on what looks to be a 
Japanese version of the infamous "gastarbeiter" program run in Germany 
during the 1960s and 70s. This was a harsh program enacted by both East 
and West Germanies (before unification) that invited foreigners to come 
work in their respective factories for up to three years, after which 
they were supposed to return home. The East German side had the 
strictest controls and the authorities there tried to limit contact 
between these workers and the regular population - reportedly even 
making it a deportable offense to have sexual relations with a German 

----------------- Mt. Fuji Long Ride ----------------------
(Event Tickets and a Day Tour from Tokyo)

Do not miss the chance on being a part of the iconic Mount Fuji Long 
Ride cycling event. Discover and explore the breathtakingly picturesque 
Fuji Five Lakes area on your bike. Make new friends and meet old ones. 
Choose one of the three offered courses that fits you best, get geared 
up and head for the event on your own, or join our rental bike-and-gear 
inclusive day tour from Tokyo.

Date: September 9th, 2018
Shop the event tickets here: https://bit.ly/2ty5EiD
Shop the tour here: https://bit.ly/2lATwc5

[...Article continues]

West Germany more tolerant and many of the workers from places like 
Turkey wound up marrying locals, while the Vietnamese, who often existed 
in a grey zone where they were technically illegal but also allowed to 
stay, put down roots. Several decades later, this led to migrant 
community kids being brought up as Germans and indeed the country found 
that they weren't so bad. In fact, in certain districts where the 
Vietnamese families settled, although they only made up 2% of the 
population, they accounted for 17% of the university student body. Much 
as America discovered, newly migrated families often work harder and can 
make outsized contributions to society.

The first steps to Japan's own gastarbeiter program are already in 
place, starting with the equally infamous Technical Intern Training 
Program which was started in 1993 to "teach skills to young people from 
developing countries in the hope the knowledge and techniques would be 
passed on and made use of". Yeah, right... As we have pointed out in 
previous issues of the Take, what this program really does is to solicit 
low-income farmers and factory workers from China, Vietnam, Nepal, and 
Myanmar to come to Japan to work for a pittance. Now to be fair, after 
some embarrassing exposes in the press, the government has cracked down 
on some of the worst offending employers - the ones withholding 
passports and salaries, seeking sexual favors and unpaid overtime, etc.

But the problems persist.

Just recently the Asahi Shimbun uncovered more evidence that the 
training program continues to be a government-sponsored human rights 
cesspit. The TV station, no friend of the LDP and Abe, took delight in 
revealing that one of the leading "supervising organizations" in the 
training program, Friend Nippon, was in fact simply dispatching trainees 
to factories with almost no oversight. One case involved a group of 33 
trainees sent to Mitsubishi Motors for welding training, where instead 
they were simply to put work on the production line doing menial jobs. 
Previously, there was a similar case over at Nissan Motors.

This dispatching gig is big bucks for Friend Nippon (FN). Apparently 
they have already sent out over 5,000 people, whom they make a 
JPY20,000~JPY30,000 "supervisory fee" per month per person - a tidy sum 
of about JPY100m per month. Unfortunately, it's not just FN. there are 
apparently another 2,000 similar bloodsucking groups out there, looking 
for their cut of the action. It's really disgusting.

In another case, also uncovered by the Asahi, trainees from Vietnam were 
found to have been dispatched by a Morioka company to do soil 
decontamination work in Fukushima. They were apparently working in one 
of the mostly heavily contaminated areas, where we guess it's difficult 
to get Japanese workers to go to. After that little effort was 
publicized the Justice Ministry has pledged to investigate all 1,002 
construction companies currently receiving foreign trainees, to ensure 
compliance. Not that we expect them to come up with anything, since 
everyone already knows this program is just one step up from a 
modern-day slavery system.

So it's surprising that the government has the chutzpah to double down 
on the Technical Intern Training Program with an announcement that 
workers who've been through the program, who can speak some Japanese, 
and who have had a favorable rating from their employers and their 
handling organization, will be allowed to apply for a new 5-year 
low-skilled work visa to continue on here. Applicants meeting the 
language and some other unspecified conditions will also be allowed to 
bring in their families.

The new visa is also theoretically available to applicants still in 
their home countries, but one wonder how they would meet the language 
and other requirements unless they were actually in-country. They're 
likely to be poor, with little access to tertiary education. So in our 
minds the main objective of the new rules is to bolster the existing 
system, i.e., to funnel people into a virtual slave program - the 3-year 
internships - then give them a few more basic freedoms for an extra five 
years, to keep them incentivized. In a way, this is similar to how you 
get amateur gamblers hooked.

The beneficiaries of the new visa program will be those corporate 
sectors most desperate for workers - primarily those meetings the 3-K 
definition: Kitanai (Dirty), Kiken (Dangerous), Kitsui (Physically 
Tough) - all jobs that refined young Japanese who are now finding it so 
easy to get undemanding office jobs, want to avoid like the plague. The 
government expects that they will bring in about 500,000 
unskilled/low-skilled laborers on the new program by 2025. Throw in the 
family members and you have 1m new immigrants over the next seven years.

And of course this is not the only channel into Japan's workforce. There 
are already more than 260,000 (as of 2017) more privileged foreigners 
(mostly Chinese) studying in Japan, and in some ways these people are 
far more desirable to the country as they are already learning Japanese 
and of course gaining local skills. Most of these students are quickly 
snapped up by Japanese employers as they graduate, and by virtue of 
their 4-year local college degrees, they are on a fast track for 
permanent residency. No temporary visas for them.

The government has said it wants to increase the foreign student 
population to 300,000 by 2020. It should meet this target handily.

Perhaps the biggest problem with this expected big influx of 
unskilled/low-skilled people is going to be crimes of desperation. As we 
have already seen over the last 25 years, these new interns and laborers 
are an easy target for scam-prone factory owners and perverts - who are 
kind of like abused kids getting to kick the dog (in this metaphor, the 
immigrants are the dog). Like those before them, some of the migrants 
will not receive their salary for months or years, will endure brutally 
hot/cold factory conditions, get injured, or will be sexually coerced, 
and as you can imagine, this will cause intense resentment and anger. In 
a very small subset of those migrants, this will inevitably lead to 
emotional outbursts and violent crimes - as has already happened in the 
past. Consider the 2013 murder of of a company president Police and 
female employee by a 30-year allegedly abused Chinese trainee at a fish 
farm in Hiroshima Prefecture. That case certainly gave the xenophobes 
around the country something to harp on about.

Lower down the scale, the mere fact that you are underprivileged and 
seeing your Japanese colleagues having a nice life while you have 
nothing, is bound to make even the most reasonable and mild-mannered 
person want something better. For this reason, the authorities are 
already having a problem in the Technical Intern Training Program with 
workers running away - much as slaves did in the 17th and 18th centuries 
in the USA. They even call them "runaways" in the English press here...

Anyway, in 2017, approximately 6,000 interns disappeared, mostly to find 
better-paying jobs, or to escape sexual or physical harassment. There 
were 251,721 foreign trainees in Japan as of the end of June 2017, or 
which 104,802 were Vietnamese and 79,959 were Chinese. Needless to say, 
being the bulk of the worker population, the bulk of the runaways were 
from Vietnam.

Time will tell if the Japanese intend to turn the new 
unskilled/low-skilled work visa program into a copy of Germany's 
use-and-throw-away gastarbeiter system. No one seems to be saying if 
after the five years the workers will have a route to stay on as 
immigrants. For example, what will happen if they intermarry? This is 
highly likely to happen, since most of the trainees are required by the 
intern program to be here alone. Our guess is that the Abe government is 
counting on companies and voters getting used to having hard-working 
foreigners around, which will soften the opposition to immigration 
sufficiently that the workers will be allowed to stay. We think that's 
why the rules beyond the end of five years are a bit fuzzy. It's 
intentional, so as to not alarm the country's xenophobic voting 
population that a groundshift in immigration is taking place.

...The information janitors/


--------------- Cycle Japan's Highest Road ----------------

Japan Travel is proud to announce the next it its "Explore Japan" series 
of get-aways. This time it's our Cycling and Sightseeing Tour from the
Japanese Alps to Kyoto, scheduled to run from September 1 - 10, 2018. A 
highlight of the tour is traversing Japan's highest road.

Join this carefully designed bike tour for advanced cyclists, and get 
ready to explore the nature, history and culture of Japan along stunning
rural roads and the famous Nakasendo Trail and through the ancient 
capital of Kyoto. For this special tour, Japan Travel partners up with 
Peter Link, a knowledgeable, experienced and reputable guide and cyclist
who will bring you the best of Japan and make sure your trip is truly 

Shop the tour here: http://bit.ly/2jX9kFv

+++ NEWS

- Diet approves up to 3 casinos
- Shinkansen attack leads to knife ban
- Earthquakes linked to lower male baby births
- Russia again floats idea of bridge from Sakhalin to Hokkaido
- Bakers breathe easy - Canada wheat allowed in again

=> Diet approves up to 3 casinos

Despite ongoing protests from many quarters, the LDP seems intent on its 
decision to allow at least three casino "resorts" to start operations in 
the mid-2020's in Japan. The bill was bulldozed through parliament, 
indicating that as far as PM Abe is concerned it's a done deal. In a nod 
to claims of increase gambling addiction, the new bills limits access to 
the casinos for Japanese residents to just 3 times a week, 10 times a 
month, and for an entry fee. Foreign tourists will get in any time, for 
free. Osaka, Wakayama, Yokohama, Sasebo, and several Hokkaido cities 
have already expressed interest in acquiring licenses. ***Ed: Given that 
the Japanese are one of the world's most prolific gambling populations, 
probably the addiction fears do have some foundation. On the other hand, 
there are so many things to gamble on already, it's hard to imagine the 
risks being any worse than they are now.** (Source: TT commentary from 
asahi.com, 21 Jul, 2018)


=> Shinkansen attack leads to knife ban

Japan's over-protective bureaucracy is having a massive knee-jerk 
reaction, again, after the transport ministry said that it would ban 
passengers from using or carrying unpacked knives on all trains. Train 
staff have been given permission to eject passengers who are seen with 
knives. The measure was put in place after an unprecedented stabbing 
attack on a shinkansen in June, when a male passenger trying to protect 
two female passengers was killed by another crazed knife-wielding male 
passenger. ***Ed: Ridiculous. Of course we have sympathy for the 
deceased, but the fact is that knife-carrying crazy people don't need a 
train upon which to carry out their attacks. And in the meantime 
millions of others will be inconvenienced by the ban on peeling fruit, 
cutting a sandwich, or even possibly cutting your fingernails. No word 
on how JR plans to enforce this yet.** (Source: TT commentary from 
japantimes.co.jp, Jul 21, 2018)


=> Earthquakes linked to lower male baby births

Japanese gynecologist-cum-statistician, Dr. Misao Fukuda of the M&K 
Health Institute has published a paper finding a direct correlation 
between natural disasters such as the Kobe and Tohoku earthquakes, and 
the birth rate of boy babies. He and his research team have found that 
fewer boys were born in the nine months following both earthquakes. This 
follows on from other research he has done, finding a similar decrease 
in male births after extreme weather events. ***Ed: It is well accepted 
in Japan that female baby producing sperm are more robust by a 
significant factor than male ones. Now Dr. Fukuda is suggesting that 
emotional stress, not just physical conditions, exert gender influence. 
So if you want boys, lead a stress-free life in Kokura, Kyushu (low 
earthquake zone)!** (Source: TT commentary from newscientist.com, Jul 
20, 2018)

[Ed: Note this article is behind a paywall.]

=> Russia again floats idea of bridge from Sakhalin to Hokkaido

Russia has once again floated the idea of a 45km bridge between Sakhalin 
island and Hokkaido in Japan. The Russians are promoting a road and rail 
bridge, providing fast and reliable transportation of goods between Cape 
Crillon in Sakhalin and Cape Soya on the northern-most part of Hokkaido.
Russia is already building a US$8m bridge from the mainland to Sakhalin, 
and therefore a link between the two nation's islands would provide 
Japan with uninterrupted land access all the way to Europe. ***Ed: Hard 
to see the Japanese government, which still fears Russia, opening up its 
northern border. Then there is the small matter of Cape Soya not being 
served by rail or even decent truck-worthy roads. Still, this could 
certainly be bundled into the Sakhalin oil and gas pipeline that Japan 
is indeed interested in building access.** (Source: TT commentary from 
newsweek.com, 18 Jul 2018)


=> Bakers breathe easy - Canada wheat allowed in again

It's been a tense month for commercial artisanal bakers in Japan, as 
their main supply of hard wheat (high protein) flour, from Canadian, was 
suspended last month. The agriculture ministry banned import and sales 
of Canadian wheat after finding genetically modified (GM) wheat grains 
mixed in with regular supplies. Japan has a very strict ban on GM 
products, being unconvinced of their long-term safety. Canada is the 2nd 
largest exporter of wheat, supplying about 1/3 of shipments. ***Ed: 
Canadian hard wheat is a popular base ingredient for sourdough bakers.** 
(Source: TT commentary from theindependentbd.com, 22 Jul 2018)


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.



No upcoming events this week.



No feedback or corrections this issue.


--- Japantravel.bike fully operational - rent one today ---

The www.japantravel.bike One-Day Rental Cycle Pass service is officially 
launched, and we offer more than 5,000 power-assisted bicycles all over 
Tokyo. The service is developed on top of the DOCOMO BIKESHARE bicycle 
rental platform, and offers a new smartphone interface, which provides 
international tourists easy access, a fast payment system, and 
multilingual customer support. Passes start at a flat rate of JPY 1,620 
for a basic rental at the bike port (more for pre-bookings), and renters 
can use the bicycle or any replacement, for up to 24 hours (from 00:01 
to 23:59 each day). 580+ bicycle ports across Tokyo allow convenient 
rental and return to any port within the area. JapanTravel.Bike is 
currently available in Tokyo and Nara, and will be coming soon to other 
major cities in Japan.

To rent one: www.japantravel.bike


=> Beppu Fireworks Festival
The art of light and music

The Beppu Hanabi Taikai (Beppu Fireworks Festival) is a must-see summer 
event. The festival is held annually on either the last weekend of July 
or first weekend of August.

Beppu Hanabi Taikai is held at Spa Beach, which overlooks the Pacific 
Ocean. Hundreds of colorful and varied stalls are set up in preparation 
for the fireworks spectacle. The stalls sell typical festival food such 
as yakiniku (grilled meat), takoyaki (octopus balls), yakisoba (fried 
noodles), crepes, apple candy, kakigori (shaved ice covered in syrup), 
and cotton candy. People dressed in yukata (summer kimono) browse the 
stalls and form large queues to get their hands on their favourite 
festive treats.

Members of large companies and organizations gather on a stage by the 
sand to praise the god of the hot springs in the form of a traditional 
dance. The dance goes on and on until darkness falls. At this point you 
need to be quick on your feet and secure a good spot on the beach 
because everyone will dash to get the best view of the fireworks 
display. For the next hour you can relax and enjoy the brilliant 
multi-colored spectacle in the starlit sky.

Venue: Beppu Spa Beach When: Jul 27th - Jul 29th 2018 ,  7:00pm - 9:00pm


=> Ekin Festival in Kochi Pref.
Spooky Paintings by Candlelight

Walking the narrow streets of small town Akaoka at night with nothing 
illuminating your way but candlelight and paper lanterns strung up 
above, one instantly notices this is not your typical festival. Feeling 
a little more like Halloween, Ekin Festival is a trip into the 
frightening scenes of famous kabuki plays as depicted by one local artist.

Hirose Kinzou, better known as Ekin in Kochi, lived from 1812 to 1876 
and is famous for his shibai-e byoubu, or theatrical images on folding 
screens. To protect the sensitive condition these paintings are in, no 
street lights (or even those of vending machines) are allowed on during 
this two day festival which happens every 3rd weekend of July.

Rather, each painting is folded out in front of stores on the street, 
lit by a single candlestick. Personally, given the nature of these scary 
images, this seems like the only proper way to view them. Plus, it just 
makes for a great, fun festival.

After wandering through the streets and taking in all the spookiness, 
you will find a central square where the typical Japanese festival 
yatai, food booths, are set up in plenty. This area is well lit by high 
beam super lights of the 21st century, and there's a stage with some 
kind of entertainment constantly going on in the background. The food 
here is very good, so eat, have a beer, and relax for a bit (if you're 
lucky enough to find a table!).

When: Jul 21st - Jul 22nd 2018 ,  6:00pm - 9:00pm




SUBSCRIBERS: 6,088 members as of July 22, 2018 (We purge our list 


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

HELP: E-mail Terrie-request at mailman.japaninc.com with the word 'help' in 
the subject or body (don't include the quotes), and you will get back a
message with instructions.

Send letters (Feedback, Inquiries & Information) to the editor to 
terrie.lloyd at japaninc.com.

For more information on advertising in this newsletter, contact 
ads at japaninc.com.

Get Terrie's Take by giving your name and email address at 
http://www.japaninc.com/newsletters/free_sign_up, or go straight to 
Mailman at:

http://www.japaninc.com/terries_take or, 

Copyright 2018 Japan Inc. Communications Inc.

----------------- Japan Inc opens up Japan ----------------

J at pan Inc authoritatively chronicles business trends in Japan. Each 
posting brings you in-depth analysis of business, people and technology 
in the world's third largest economy.

Visit www.japaninc.com for the best business insight on Japan available.

More information about the Terrie mailing list