Foreign workers currently don't present economic threats to Japanese workers because they tend to work in agriculture and construction industries, jobs that many of today’s Japanese workers don’t want. And many are scattered around the country in small, rural communities which are cut off from mainstream society such as Tokyo and Osaka.
Moreover, because of the falling birth rate, Japan's working-age population which peaked in 1995 is now falling. Demographers forecast that the number of working-age Japanese -- ages 15 to 64 -- will drop 15% to 71.9 million by 2025 from 84.6 million in 2005. The drop will be especially steep over the next few years as people born during Japan's 1947-49 baby boom turn 60, the official retirement age at many companies. In a country where the public is strongly aware of such demographic trends, many see foreign workers as inevitable in sustaining Japan’s current economic position in the global market.
The Japanese government has kept a tight grip on foreigners and their activities through stringent visa requirements. However, while officially keeping the door closed, the government has left numerous loopholes open enabling thousands of foreigners to enter and work, on temporary basis, in Japan each year. Some have come to call this the "backdoor policy."
Under the government approved three-year “trainee” program, 140,000 foreigners enter Japan to acquire skills expected to be brought back to their countries. Some trainees are paid just $2.50 an hour, around half the lowest of Japan's minimum wages , which vary by region.
In addition, some 100,000 foreigners with student visas are allowed to work part-time, and most do so at low-wage jobs in convenience stores and fast-food restaurants. And about 300,000 descendants of Japanese who immigrated to South America, mostly to Brazil, more than 50 years ago now live and work in Japan, granted visas as relatives of Japanese citizens.
The Japan Association of Corporate Executives, a powerful business lobby that supports allowing more foreign workers in Japan, projected that by 2050, foreigners would exceed 6.1% of Japan's working-age population -- nearly five times the current level.
Thinking about working in Japan? Preparing to move overseas almost becomes a full-time job in the final weeks of your departure. Many people quit their jobs weeks before so they can devote their time to preparation. But what about your health insurance? Short-term health insurance plans are a great solution. ↓
Below are links to Certified Social Insurance and Labor Consultants providing services in English. Also below are useful links related to working in Japan and links to women balancing career and personal happiness. WJA realizes and promotes women's increasing value in the labor market.