Japan Real Time Charts and Data

Edward Hugh is only able to update this blog from time to time, but he does run a lively Twitter account with plenty of Japan related comment. He also maintains a collection of constantly updated Japan data charts with short updates on a Storify dedicated page Is Japan Once More Back in Deflation?

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

A novel approach to unemployment problems

The Associated Press are reporting that Japan gives cash to jobless foreigners to go home. The lead states that
"Japan began offering money Wednesday for unemployed foreigners of Japanese ancestry to go home, mostly to Brazil and Peru, to stave off what officials said posed a serious unemployment problem.

Thousands of foreigners of Japanese ancestry, who had been hired on temporary or referral contracts, have lost their jobs recently, mostly at manufacturers such as Toyota Motor Corp. and its affiliates, which are struggling to cope with a global downturn.

The number of foreigners seeking government help to find jobs has climbed in recent months to 11 times the previous year at more than 9,000 people, according to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare.

"The program is to respond to a growing social problem," said ministry official Hiroshi Yamashita.

Japan has tight immigration laws, and generally allows only skilled foreign workers to enter the country. The new program applies only to Brazilians and Peruvians of Japanese ancestry who have gotten special visas to do assembly line and other manufacturing labor. It does not apply to other foreigners in Japan, Yamashita said."

Paying people to leave the country creates the perception of severe dysfunction in the government's approach to the country's problem. Limiting the payments to foreigners of Japanese ancestry highlights the country's cultural attitude towards people of non-Japanese ethnicity. Japan will need to replace millions of workers aging out of employability in the near future, and domestic fertility is not going to be the answer anytime soon. This kind of bias in treatment of foreign guest workers will make attracting a labor force from other countries difficult.