Double-talk of the policy: will 200,000 immigrants be superstars for Japanese working women?

by Minako Sanda

In the 1980s, as Hobi neighborhood in Aichi prefecture and Icho neighborhood in Yokohama started to accept factory workers from China and Brazil and other countries, Japan pretty much seems to be getting there – opening up the closed door to the immigrating employees and becoming one of the multicultural nations. Certainly, 30 years after the good observation of such areas of immigrants, Abe is aware of the resistance to immigrants.

“Whether to accept (more) immigrants or not is an issue relevant to the future of our country and the overall life of the people. I understand that (the government) should study it from various angles after undergoing national-level discussions,” (Abe, according to Kawai 2014)

What Japan’s Prime Minister suggested the Lower House Budget Committee has created debates among Japanese citizens to reconsider what Japan is and will be like. Could this be finally a chance for a socially homogenized nation to learn the impact of multicultural immigrants?

Well, if you look at the reality of Japanese society, people can tell that acceptance of immigrants can do very little, if any, to help Japan’s current social issues such as declining birthrate (1.35 this year) and working populations, and a higher welfare burden for the younger generation. I personally believe that merely accepting immigrants who look for any form of employment will end up more expensive than what nation can benefit from the labor work immigrants provide. “Accepting domestic helpers and babysitters” should be discussed after developing solid system to support current working parents.

For example in the area of medical professionals and construction workers, where the declining number of workers is severe, it is not the occupations that are essentially hard, but it is rather there is not enough social welfare to support overworking people covering up for the lack of population. Without a development in social structure, immigrants may end up being thrown into the society without language skill, or no professional occupation after being a factory worker or a babysitter. Even when immigrants get jobs in the name of training, there is currently no support after they are done with the term, no JSL is provided for them. Therefore, this can easily lead them to unlawful employment and illegal stay afterwards. Whether government targets immigrants who are highly-skilled professionals or low-educated factory laborers, what both need is the same welfare, place to live, language lessons and support for their own family. If they want more professionals from abroad to move into Japan, they are inevitably asked to attract them by leveling up the current treatment that separate foreigners from original citizens in terms of employment, education and welfare.

Regarding the acceptance of babysitters and domestic helpers, I think the politicians lack analysis of the Japanese family structure and tendency in putting pressure on women to take care of domestic chores. Having the national policy to internalize the daycare of elderly and house work, and the Japanese nuclear house, all of which are essentially run by women, made women responsible for all family matters and did not allow many wives to go out to work full-time. From this history of family-based nursing and education system, women not only suffer from the physical fatigue, but also the social pressure on them to be the good glue of a well-balanced family. Currently, women who work after getting married and giving birth are increasing, but policies hardly catch up to support them (which is strange, working women is never a new idea before and during WWII, thus society without doubt forced women to stay at home), and now the solution for this is all brought by immigrants nannies and domestic helpers, not a new feminist policy.

Thus, solution to the lack of working population and declining birthrate is not as simple as counting immigrants in. What Japan essentially needs is to face the fact that a better policy to support parent to raise children in Japan, development of better welfare for the area of occupation where there are severe lack of professions, rather than begging immigrants for the quick solution to magically boost the labor population.

References

Kawai, M (2014) 15th May. The skeptical idea: the structure to accept 200,000 immigrants per year. 移民「毎年20万人」受け入れ構想の怪しさ Retrieved on 2014. June 19th from http://seiron-sankei.com/3226

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The struggle of living in Japan if you are earning minimum wage

by Kota Yanagidani

Wherever the society is, there is work by which people earn money to live; however, there is a wide range of income. In Japan, the system of the minimum wage is there, but there would not be the exact limit line. In continuing paragraphs, the situation of living with the minimum wage in contemporary Japan is discussed.

First of all, the simple calculation of living for a month with minimum wage is argued. Thinking about Osaka prefecture, minimum wage is 819 yen. The average house fee is 50,000 yen per a month. The Costs for electricity and gas could be approximately 5,000 yen. The food cost is about 10,000 yen per a week. In Japan, there is the insurance cost, which is around 5,000 yen per a month. Calculating all cost or fee, the sum is roughly 100,000 yen. Since the minimum wage is 819 yen per an hour, at least one has to work for about 130 hours. If one can work for 8 hours per a day, 17 days are needed to earn enough money to live.

Next, how could this life be possible? This means it looks very difficult for all citizen to get a job in which one can work for over 17 days in a month. As an average, normal salary man usually works for 20 days in a month. These jobs are at least full time job, but most people today work as a part-time worker, and for them, it is rare to work for 5 days every week like usual company man. Even more, that job is part-time job. People do often not work for whole day as a part-time job. That’s why one might have to work more than 17 days to earn money for life. However, under such situation, one cannot enjoy doing a hobby usually because hobbies cost us extra money, and also sometimes we have to buy something necessary to live. We need knife, cutting board, and a frying pan to cook. These kinds of things sometimes cost us a lot.

In conclusion, it is really difficult to live a life with the minimum wage. Thinking about my situation, in addition to above costs, the tuition and the transportation cost have to be considered. However, then the time cost emerge. We have to concern with time for work, because we have to do homework, study for test, and read books for getting knowledge. These things make us realize the difficulty of earning enough money to live with the minimum wage. In this situation, what could be sacrificed? Do you give up sleeping?

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Minimum wage as a student

Anonymous student post

In my hometown, Hyogo, the minimum wage is 800 yen, but it is surprisingly 660 yen in Japan. It is very low. Furthermore, I live in Hyogo with my family, so I have no difficulty, although my wage is 770 yen. But, I would like to imagine when I have a part-time job at the minimum wage and live along in the city where the wage is lowest.

I have played basketball since I was eleven years old. I have practices about twice or three times a week, so I cannot work those days. I work for four hours a day and about three or four days a week. Calculating my monthly salary, the salary is about 39,600 yen. It might look not so low, but this is not true. This is because I must pay some expenses: gas, water, and electricity. In Japan, these expenses is totally 5,000 yen on the average, and the average food one is 25000 yen. Subtracting these expenditures from the salary, I have only 9,600 yen at hand. I cannot play with my friend and cannot even save money. I use it up at once.

It might be important for me to save money for my future. I cannot live at this rate. Therefore, I add to working day. If I worked about five or six days a week, I would earn about 80,000 yen. It is very higher wage than former one. However, there are some problems. First problem is that I cannot allot much time to study or do my assignments. This is because I think that students’ main occupation is learning. Second problem is that I cannot have a sufficient rest. If the working day increase, it is natural that working day falls on the day when I play basketball. Working too much makes me exhausted mentally and physically. This might lead mistakes on working and a falling of my concentration on studying. This is a vicious circle.

In order not to fall into the circle, I have to do something. For example, I ask my parents to provide a monthly allowance, economize on gas, water, and electricity fees, save board, and so on. There are many ways to get through the problems even though my wage is minimum.

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Immigrants, Refugees, and Precarious Japan

Japanese painting depicting a group of Portugu...

Japanese painting depicting a group of Portuguese foreigners (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

by Yuki Sakurai

Nowadays the world is globalizing more and more as time passes, so it is easier than before for people to go abroad or move to somewhere in the world. However, there are some issues in order to live comfortably and at the same level as local people. I am going to refer to those problems. After that, I would like to relate their problems with Anne Allison’s opinion in her book, Precarious Japan.

We call people who leave their home country and enter another country for the purpose of living or working there, immigrants. However, as I mentioned above, there are a lot of problems related to immigration, such as lacking equal rights and status. In Japan as well that is true. Foreigners who work and live in Japan have difficult issues except for some. For example, “3K” work (dangerous, dirty, and hard jobs), low salaries, discrimination, and sometimes illegal arrivals who come to Japan for the purpose of working.

Moreover, I think that most Japanese people do not really consider foreign workers’ problems. Especially, the 3K problem is extremely serious and it may infringe on human rights. However, according to a survey y the Japanese government about what people think about foreigners engaging in dangerous jobs that Japanese dislike to do, 30.7 percent of Japanese think that although it is not good, there is no other choice to do so, and 33.9 percent of Japanese think it is really favorable if foreign workers want to do so. Only 31.2 percent of Japanese think the idea is wrong. Also, foreigners who work in Japan sometimes cannot get statuses and rights at the same level as Japanese people. Despite of that foreigners all are living and working same as Japanese, there is somewhat divides.

Recently in Japan, people are more likely to feel apprehensive about the precariousness of current Japanese society, as Anne Allison says in her book. Due to something difficult including the big earthquake in the east of Japan, now there are a number of Japanese refugees as well in Japan. The whole of this society is unstable, so that means it is more precarious for foreigners. What is worse, it seems that Japanese government is now planning to accept more and more foreigner workers as a big workforce towards the Tokyo Olympics in 2020. We have to pay more attention to the serious issues about treatment of foreign workers, and seriously improve them so as to treat them equally. Also, in this global world, people have to reconsider refugees who come from all over the world.

References

Allison, Anne. 2013. Precarious Japan. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Japanese Government Report http://www8.cao.go.jp/survey/h12/gaikoku/

Yahoo News!外国人労働者受け入れ拡大か?その背景と問題とは?http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20140130-00000013-wordleaf-bus_all

 

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Denizenship and refugeeism

by Shiori Nabeshima

In the sliding-down society, as Anne Allison expressed the Japanese circumstances, once people slip off to the bottom, it is hard to climb up to recover the former situation. It seems that the ‘angle’ is becoming sharper than before to make more people slide down. It means that even though the top or middle and bottom people are all Japanese, the gap between them in terms of equality and rights is widening. Especially temporary or contracted workers are overworked like slaves to support the society. Where are their rights of citizenship? Are they actually regarded as citizens? In Precarious Japan, Allison uses the words denizenship and refugeeism.

Essentially in Britain, the people who are categorized as ‘denizens’ are foreigners who are granted a status similar to resident aliens. Resident aliens have usually rights such as residential, social and economic right, but not electoral rights. It shows that some countries guarantee basic rights to foreigners. Although not all countries give all rights to foreigners, the citizens should have guaranteed all rights by their countries.

Most of people, such as net café nanmin, temp or contracted workers and the working poor which Allison mentioned in her book, are Japanese. Even though they are Japanese, some of them do not have fixed residences, cannot receive security as citizens and are struggling to live on minimum wage. Some of them are paid less than needed to receive welfare, but their welfare applications have been denied.

Right now, their rights are below denizens, such as non-citizens. Therefore Allison introduced the new word “refugeeism”. Refugeeism is as the spread of the nation-state made “belonging to the community into which one is born no longer a matter of course and not belonging no longer a matter of choice”. Being disconnected makes them to be refugees. In the story of Moyai, many precariats were estranged from their family or feel alone because they are precariats. This is led by the notion of winners and losers. Frequently, society rejects those who are in precarious situations. It sometimes makes people join hate groups or cults. As with the experience of Karin Amamiya, the people who are members of hate groups or cults tend to accept precariats. If the others or society accept them, they do not need to join such group.

Japanese society should become more tolerant to those who are precarious and prevent them to fall from the safety net.

Reference

Allison, Anne. 2013. Precarious Japan. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

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If I am earning minimum wage…

by Arisa Kato

If I work for minimum wage after I graduate from Ritsumeikan University, what I can do and what can’t I do? This answer may be different whether I live in Kyoto or Ishikawa, my home town.

If I live and work in Kyoto, I earn 773 yen per hour and get 123,680 yen for a month (8 hours per day and 5 times a week). If I were earning 123,680 yen, I would find another job to work side by side. It is because living in Kyoto means living alone for me, so I have to pay the rent and energy costs and so on.

On the other hand, I can earn 704 yen per hour and get only 112,640 yen for a month if I work for minimum wage in Ishikawa. In this situation, I may live with my family and rely on my parents of course I have no excuse. So I wouldn’t have to pay the rent. Then, I might not work two or more jobs but I may study to get some qualifications. This is because having licenses is advantageous to get next job with favorable terms and help me to succeed in getting away from poverty.

What I can say in both situations, I wouldn’t have time for doing my hobbies. I have my hands full with just living and struggling to get out of the serious situation. It is literally a life with minimum necessary. It’s possible I am discriminated against socially, and I cannot have any self-confidence. Perhaps, I wouldn’t like to meet my friends and let them know I am in terrible state because I’ll feel so misery being “losers” (makegumi) [Allison 2013, p51]. For same reason, I don’t want to be in love with someone. I know if I continue this condition for long term, I would lose many friends and “healthy and culturally basic existence” [Allison 2013, p52], which is guaranteed under Article 25 of Japanese Constitution.

This time, I imagined that how my life would be if I were paid the minimum wage. I consider that what’s the hardest things to be working poor is connection with people get weaken. Of course, living with little money is bitter, however, losing friends and other relationships is more heartbreaking. So I wouldn’t like to be a cheap laborer, and we should try to eradicate socially lonely people.

Reference

Allison, Anne. (2013). Precarious Japan. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

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Struggling to live in Japan on minimum wage

Anonymous student post

If I earn the minimum wage in the future, living in Japan would make me feel “ikizurasa”. As Anne Allison describes in Precarious Japan, one male contract worker is spending a hard life. He sleeps in Shinjuku station while wearing his suits. He works hard from early morning to night, but his income is very low and precarious, going from 300,000 to 105,000 yen.The temperature at night is very cold and severe for him.

Moreover, she describes how difficult it is for poor people to live in Japan. The “net café refugee” who are in other words “drifting poor” are mainly flexible or irregular workers. If they work hard from morning to night, they can earn only for one day living. Every day they just repeat this cycle. It means that they can not escape from this poverty cycle. To make matters worse, they tend to buy food which is bad for their health such as hamburger because they do not have money, so they are at risk of being sick. However, once they become sick, it means their life will end. They do not contract life insurance, so they can not go to hospital and they will be people who just wait for death.

Another aspect of earning the minimum wage is the lost identity and “ibasho”. Now I have an “ibasho” as university students by paying a large amount of money to the university, and now I have an identity from being surrounded by friends, studying subjects I am interested in, and so on. However, if I earn just the minimum wage in the future, my life will be completely changed. As I mentioned previously, there is a possibility of becoming a “net café refugee” or “homeless”. It could be said that I would not be surrounded by friends (If there are some friends, they are socially disadvantaged such as less education) or I would not buy clothes for making me fashionable, and so on. It means that it comes to be impossible for me to understand who I am and I can not stay sane. Where is my dignity? How can I live in Japan from now on?

In fact this is not my imagination but reality, and some people are forced to live in these situations. We do not usually think about people in poverty, so reading Allison’s book was a great opportunity to think about them. I became interested in helping them through volunteering, and I think this is very important thing.

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Living on minimum wage in Japan

Minimal Minimum Wage

Minimal Minimum Wage (Photo credit: PropagandaTimes)

by Tomohiro Doi

I am talking about minimum wage in Japan. In Japan, the minimum wage is determined. However, this tackling is relieved with Abe’s government and the workers are difficult to work and live and it is easy to run companies for the administration. Namely, it is easy to live for the administration and it is difficult to live for the workers in Japanese society.

If I get minimum wage in the future, if I am living by myself, it might not have any problems. However, if it is a part time work, in my old age, it is uneasy because it do not have social security and an employee pension. And if I get married to somebody and I become parent in the future, it is hard to support my family. In other thing, Japanese society will become the age of a declining birthrate and aging population more and more in the future. Households what the son support the son’s parents will increase. If I support my parents, it will be hard to manage to make a living more and more.

To think this problem about if I get minimum wage, first in Kyoto, the minimum wage is about 773 yen. In this wage, for instance, I work five days for a week and work for eight hours for a day. And its simple total is 6,184 yen for a day. For a week, its total is 30,920 yen. For a month, its total is 154,600 yen. However, this is simple total. If I am a part time worker, it is very difficult to work every day and to get 154,600 yen for a month because a non-regular employee is not stable, for instance even if the non-regular employee is taken on, it is rather difficult to get work and to get money.

Now, to think this, for example, I live in Kyoto in minimum wage. First, the most important thing is the place of live what is house. The market of house rent is about 40,000 yen. To deduct house rent from revenue, it is about 114,600 yen. Others one, most important thing is food. For a month, it is thought it is about 45,000 yen. This is 500 yen each a one meal and 1500 for a day. And the power, gas and water rate is collectively about 7000 yen. Therefore, what is left is 62,600 yen. At first sight, it has a surplus. However, it is extremely hard and it is as I say above so this life will be very harsh.

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A Silent Justification of Poverty?

Cover of "Global Woman: Nannies, Maids, a...

Cover via Amazon

Anonymous student post

The fact that there is a global transfer going on in the realm of women’s work (mostly child work and housework) in affluent countries, where migrant woman from third world countries are being utilized as emotional (for child care) resources replacing the mother’s work in the house as nannies, caretakers surprised and disturbed me at the same time.

The cause of this transfer trend is that in western countries, not only are men independent and serve as breadwinners of their family, but woman have joined this equation and as a result, have become to taken by their work, leaving them no time to do housework as well as providing emotional care for their children (child care).

In a crude fasion, Barbara Ehrenreich and Arlie Russell Hochschild explain in Global Woman: Nannies, Maids, and Sex Workers in the New Economy that this demand gap in affluent countries (described as a “care deficit”) pulls Third World migrants, in other words, poverty stricken situations pushes the migrants to enter and fix the care deficit.

Though this can be glorified by affluent countries that they are providing opportunities for the poor, this cycle works well if the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. As global inequality progresses, the more immigrant workforces are imported to affluent countries.

Another crude factor that makes this possible is the dual emotional and psychological burden the workers go through. This is caused by the physical separation between her and the girl or child she is taking care of, and the inability to physically and emotionally connect with the worker’s real child.

Sustaining a healthy emotional connection is another burden altogether. Whether migrant workers can sustain an emotional connection with their children back home depends on how the children or other family members perceive them. This changes depending on how the parent communicates her situation to the child. The more the parent seems to be struggling for the family, the more emotionally close the child would feel.

On the contrary, the more they seem to be struggling for themselves, seem selfish in their reason to migrate in the first place, the child is more likely to feel emotionally detached. It seems as if affluent countries of the west are silently contributing and justifying global inequality at the cost of dual psycological stress the migrant workers go through.

Japan should admit more refugees

by Fujisaka Shunsuke

I think Japan should accept more refugees. Comparing with other developed countries, Japan’s refugee is too little. Person who has a risk of persecution is admitted as refugees in Japan. However to be refugee in Japan is very difficult. Only 1 percent can be refugee and other 99 percent of people still have to find other place to go. I think Japan should admit more refugees. There are two main reasons why Japan should accept refugees. First refugees will be a labor. Second it is also good for refugees to be in Japan.

First, refugees will be a good labor mostly in the country side. It is because there is a shortage of labor in the countryside. For example there is shortage of farmer. Therefore farmers want more labor to work. Some people might say that farmer is hard work and it is 3K work in Japan. 3K stands for kitanai (dirty), kiken (dangerous), kitsui (difficult). I do not think farmer is 3K work. Many farmers have a pride to be a farmer and farmer support all Japanese by making food. Even if farmer is 3K work it is better than nothing. However to change the system of refugee is important. Government should change the society that refugee can get job easily. Refugees must be treated like Japanese.

Second it is also good for refugees to be in Japan. I think Japan’s economy is stable comparing with European countries. I think there are a lot of people those who want to come to Japan as a refugee. That’s why insurance is good for refugees. They will have a more chance to get insurance than other countries. For example in Japan there is a system of the public health insurance for whole nation but America does not have this system of the insurance. It means that Japan ‘s insurance is good.

In conclusion Japan should admit more refugees. Due to refugees will be a good labor and it is good for refugees to be in Japan rather than to be in any other countries. It is also good for Japan to admit more refugees because it changes other countries impression of Japan. Other countries will have good impression to Japan. Finally I want to say that refugees must be cared by government and society after they became refugees. Aftercare is important for refugees. To support continuously is necessary to be a good country for refugees.