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Article

Foreign workers in Japan seek help as pandemic worsens job situation

24 Sep 2020

A growing number of foreign nationals working in Japan, mostly under fixed-term employment contracts, are seeking assistance after losing their jobs amid the novel coronavirus crisis.

Workers from foreign countries are seeing a tougher employment environment due to the pandemic, which had eliminated more than 50,000 jobs for them by the end of August.

In Aichi Prefecture, home to Japan’s automobile industry, a number of auto parts suppliers have been severely hit by sharp drops in orders due to slumping vehicle sales worldwide amid the pandemic, and have started to terminate contracts with the foreign nationals they had employed, notably Japanese Brazilians.

...Facing the tough employment situation, to which the ongoing U.S.-China trade dispute has also contributed, nearly 100 workers, mainly foreign nationals, have joined the Nagoya Fureai Union over the past year in order to bargain collectively with their employers.

...People familiar with the matter have said that in many contract termination cases plaintiffs ended up winning only a financial settlement as their employment contracts were fixed-term.

...Since the immigration control law was revised in 1990, when many migrant workers came from Brazil, Japanese firms have shortened the contracted employment period for fixed-term workers to three months so they can adjust their labor force based on quarterly production outlooks, explains Kiyoto Tanno, a professor at Tokyo Metropolitan University.

The expert on labor problems facing Japanese Brazilians also notes that "the prevailing management policy of reducing inventories as much as possible is leading to an unstable employment situation for them."

He suggests that employers "sign foreign workers onto annual contracts at least."

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