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HOME  > Past issues  > 2014 April 9 - 15  > Working conditions overall should be improved before accepting more foreign workers
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2014 April 9 - 15 TOP3 [LABOR]

Working conditions overall should be improved before accepting more foreign workers

April 9, 2014
The Abe government on April 4 decided on a policy to promote the use of foreign workers. This policy may further worsen overall working conditions in Japan.

The policy was drawn up based on a proposal presented by private-sector members of a government panel. It states that authorities will take steps to help expand the use of foreign workers in the construction, manufacturing, and nursing-care industries.

The materials submitted to the panel, however, scarcely show any factor behind “labor shortages” in those industries.

In the construction industry, manpower shortages are expected since the demand for labor is increasing because of reconstruction works from the 2011 massive disaster and construction projects slated for the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics.

The root cause of the labor shortages lies in the poor working conditions. Construction workers engage in heavy labor but receive just 70-80% of the average wage of all workers. They quit their jobs one after another feeling negative about their future.

Nursing-care workers are also suffering from overwork and low wages. They earn only 60-70% of the national average. As a number of workers are unable to stay in their jobs, Japan’s nursing-care facilities have chronically been short of hands.

If Japanese companies employ more foreigners as cheap labor without making efforts to improve such harsh working conditions, it could further deteriorate the overall labor conditions in the country.

In order to “secure sustainable growth” as the government claims, it is essential to raise wages and improve work environments.

Past related article:
> Care workers forced to work long hours at night [February 28, 2014]
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