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HOME  > Past issues  > 2018 October 31 - November 6  > Gov’t should safeguard foreign workers’ human rights before opening door wider
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2018 October 31 - November 6 [LABOR]
column 

Gov’t should safeguard foreign workers’ human rights before opening door wider

November 6, 2018

Akahata ‘current’ column

Labor Ministry data shows that as of October 2017, 1.28 million foreign workers were working in Japan, nearly twice that of five years ago. Japan now has the fourth largest foreign workforce in the world.

In a bid to accept even more workers from abroad, the Abe government has proposed a bill to amend the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act, which will most likely be the focal point of Diet deliberations in the current extraordinary session. Although domestic industries such as manufacturing and retail industries are struggling with serious labor shortages, the issue of foreign workers should undergo thorough and careful discussions.

As a factor behind the increase in the number of foreign workers, the Labor Ministry cites the Technical Intern Training Program. However, a survey that the ministry conducted last year found illegal overtime and other labor law violations in 70% of the host companies inspected. The government should take measures to eliminate such exploitative working conditions and safeguard the basic human rights of foreign worker trainees.

The Abe government-proposed bill reflects the business world’s desire to secure cheap and disposable labor. The rise in the number of low-wage foreign workers will affect Japanese workers.

Not only in Japan but also in the rest of the world, more and more workers are migrating across borders. This international trend is irreversible. European countries have a long history of accepting immigrants and foreign workers, but these countries are still not free from problems. Japan needs to carefully work out a way to create a society where Japanese and foreign workers can work under similar conditions that respect the rights of workers.

Past related articles:
> Abe gov’t new policy on foreign workers increases concern in regard to human rights violations [August 23, 2018]
> Revised foreign trainee program falls short of getting rid of human rights abuses [November 1, 2017]
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