Category Archives: Japan

Specified skilled workers stranded in SE Asia, unable to come to Japan

BANGKOK (The Japan News/ANN) — People in Southeast Asia who want to come to Japan after obtaining the new residence status of “specified skilled worker” are being held back in their home countries due to the spread of the new coronavirus. In some countries, skills tests necessary for obtaining the status have been postponed, and there appears to be no way out of this situation in the near future.

Due to geographical proximity, Southeast Asia is expected to be a major source of human resources for Japan. Since the revised Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Law went into effect in April 2019, skills tests have been conducted in some countries, including the Philippines and Indonesia, and some applicants have passed the tests in each country. However, the necessary procedures to dispatch them moved slower than the spread of pandemic and now countries around are being forced to restrict the movement of people beyond their borders, all but shutting the system down.

In the Philippines, where skills tests were conducted earlier than any other country, more than 600 people have already passed the exams for obtaining the status, such as for nursing care and the food-service industry, but few seem to made it to Japan and started working.

Venus Lanuza, 23, passed the nursing care test last May, but has been unable to leave her country for more than a year. Procedures for getting dispatched finally showed some progress this year, but was hampered by the new coronavirus.

She returned to her parents’ home in Davao, on Mindanao Island, from the outskirts of Manila to work there, but lost her job due to the lockdown. Without any income, her family can manage to get by eating vegetables grown in their garden. She continues studying Japanese and nursing care, but she is beginning to think: “I am actually losing hope. Working in Japan might not be destined to me.”

In Indonesia, some of the skills tests that were suspended in April have resumed since late June. However, one Japanese intermediary group is now reluctant to accept those people, saying, “It’s difficult to accept them while there is a risk of infection, because it would be their job to be in contact with elderly people.”

In Myanmar and Cambodia, moves toward sending their nationals to Japan have also stopped.

■‘Lack of human resources’

Effective Wednesday, Japan is restricting the entry of foreign nationals from 128 countries and a region due to the pandemic. The government has aimed to soon allow arrivals from Vietnam and some other countries in phases, but there are no signs of progress in accepting foreign workers.

An organization that supports accepting qualified workers in Ota Ward, Tokyo, represents about 70 people now unable to come to Japan from Indonesia or other countries. They were supposed to work at about 40 businesses, including in agriculture and food production.

A cabbage farmer in Tsumagoi, Gunma Prefecture, said, “We didn’t have enough manpower for planting this year, so we could only plant about 80% of last year’s amount.”

As part of the easing of restrictions of movements beyond borders, the government plans to gradually resume entry from four countries, including Vietnam and Thailand. Specified skilled workers will also be allowed to enter Japan. Other Southeast Asian countries, such as the Philippines, are not yet in the scope of easing restrictions.

“There is still strong demand for foreign workers at business establishments even if they are forced to scale down due to the new coronavirus,” an official of the support organization said.

Written by Mayumi Oshige and Daisuke Kawakami
Source: Eleven Myanmar
Published on 1 July 2020

Japan welcomes Thai workers

Driven by a shortage of skilled workers, Japan is offering job opportunities in 14 work categories to foreign workers including Thai workers who have undergone occupational training in Japan previously, the Labour Ministry says.

The ministry has signed a memorandum of cooperation (MoC) with four Japanese agencies — the Justice Ministry, Foreign Ministry, Public Health, Labour and Welfare ministry, and the National Police Office — on cooperation in supplying skilled workers to Japan, said permanent secretary for labour Suthi Sukosol.

Priority will be given to Thai workers who have completed an occupational training programme of between three and five years in Japan under a previous Thai-Japanese cooperation agreement, he said.

In the first phase of the agreement, Japan will welcome skilled workers from Thailand to work in Japan for up to five years in four out of all 14 work categories: nursing, construction industry, building cleaning, and agriculture, he said. Other areas of work in which Japan needs to import skilled workers from overseas include machinery parts and industrial equipment production, the machine industry, electronics, information technology, ship building, car repair and maintenance, aviation, hotels, fisheries and aquaculture, food and beverage production, and hospitality.

Japan wants Thailand to supply it with skilled workers in these categories as soon as the Covid-19 pandemic situation subsides, Department of Employment director-general Suchart Pornchaiwisetkul said.

The demand for foreign skilled workers in Japan is driven mainly by Japan’s need to boost economic growth, he said.

Saichon Akanitvong, Minister Counsellor, Office of Labour Affairs, at the Royal Thai Embassy in Tokyo, said about 60,000 to 70,000 skilled workers in these jobs will be exported to Japan each year over the next five years.

While Japan is facing a shortage of skilled workers, foreign workers undergoing job training in Japan are normally required to leave the country at the end of their training, despite the fact many Japanese employers want trained foreign workers who can stay on and work for them, Mr Saichon said.

Previously, many Thai workers completed training and were given a payment of 600,000 Japanese yen each for starting new jobs when they returned home, a source said.

Japan has also offered similar job training opportunities to workers in other countries including the Philippines, Cambodia, Nepal, Myanmar, Mongolia, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Uzbekistan and Pakistan, the source said.

Office of Overseas Employment Administration director Kattiya Pandech said this was a good opportunity for skilled Thais, especially for more than 5,000 workers who have completed training in Japan before as they will be exempt from mandatory Japanese language and work skill tests if they want to go back to Japan to pursue a job in the same work area they had been trained in. Workers who have not passed such training will still be required to pass a Japanese language and work skill test first, he said.

Written by Penchan Charoensuthipan
Source: Bangkok Post
Published on 29 June 2020

More Thais stranded in Japan return home

Thais stranded in Japan due to the Covid-19 crisis returned home on Tuesday (June 23), the Royal Thai Embassy in Tokyo said on its official Facebook page.

The Thais took Japan Airlines Flight JL 031 that departed Haneda Airport in Tokyo and landed at Suvarnabhumi Airport at 3.40pm.

The returnees must follow the guidelines of the Public Health Ministry and will be on quarantine for 14 days after arrival. The embassy did not reveal the number of Thais on the flight.

The embassy added that the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand has allowed flight JL 031 to pick up stranded Thais in Japan since early this month. The first trip was on June 9. The number of passengers on each trip will depend on the quarantine facilities available in Thailand.

Source: The Nation
Published on 24 June 2020

Shorthanded Japan restarts skills tests for foreign workers

Japan is offering work visa qualification exams for foreign nationals once again as the reopened country seeks the upper hand in the competition for labor from elsewhere in Asia.

Tests for agricultural jobs are being administered this month in Cambodia, where the coronavirus outbreak has been surprisingly small. Exams for nursing care jobs were offered there last month after cancellations in April amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Japan looks to restart assessments in other countries such as the Philippines, Nepal and Indonesia, depending on local trends in infection cases. These tests also resume this month in Japan, taken chiefly by international students and trainees.

People who pass the tests become eligible for a new visa category that lets them work in the country for up to five years, when employed in 14 short-staffed industries. The two-part exams assess industry-specific skills and knowledge as well as Japanese proficiency.

Tokyo aims to attract more people for jobs in industries that desperately need labor, such as nursing care and agriculture. Competition with Singapore and Middle Eastern nations for workers was heating up before the pandemic. Japan hopes that resuming visa qualification tests now will give it an advantage in the recruiting fight.

Though entry restrictions prevent people who pass the test abroad from coming to Japan right away, Tokyo is preparing to welcome them as soon as such limits are relaxed.

Japan plans to classify individuals with the new visa as business travelers so they can be admitted to the country in the first phase of reopening the border. The coronavirus quarantine requirement would be waived for people who pass the screening based on certification of negative diagnostic test results and their itineraries.

Businesses looking to hire foreign workers also are encouraged to interview candidates online before they come to Japan. Support will be hammered out for international students who seek to remain in the country under the special work visa.

Japan anticipated up to 47,550 foreigners entering the country with this visa in the first year through March 2020. But the number came in at 4,000 or so, due in part to delayed procedures in workers’ home countries.

Written by Taito Kurose
Source: Nikkei Asian Review
Published on 11 June 2020

More than 340 Vietnamese stranded in Japan return home

More than 340 Vietnamese citizens stranded in Japan flew back home on Monday.

A Vietnam Airlines flight was specially arranged between the national flag carrier, the Embassy of Việt Nam in Japan and the Vietnamese authority.

The passengers including the elderly, sick and children, along with the crew, were immediately taken into quarantine after landing at Nội Bài International Airport in Hà Nội.

Crew members also wore full personal protective suits while the passengers underwent medical checks before boarding the flight and were required to wear masks during the journey.

Officials from the Vietnamese Embassy in Japan were on hand at Narita International Airport in Tokyo to help passengers board.

An embassy representative said Vietnamese agencies and the airline are closely coordinating to conduct more flights to bring more Vietnamese citizens home the future.

Source: VN Express
Published on 25 May 2020

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