National | CHUBU CONNECTION

Foreign part-timers proliferate in Chubu as scarce Japanese flee drunks at pubs

Chunichi Shimbun

Foreign students working part-time in izakaya (pubs) are rising rapidly in the Chubu region amid the increasing tendency of many young Japanese to avoid drunk customers.

This is especially true in Nagoya, where many fancy commercial facilities popping up around JR Nagoya Station are attracting Japanese seeking part-time jobs. Most izakaya are struggling to find staff and say they will fail without foreign staff.

“Order ready!” a Nepalese cook yells in Japanese to a Vietnamese coworker who takes the food to the tables.

The two work in Amataro, an izakaya in Meitetsu Lejac, a commercial complex in the Meieki district east of JR Nagoya Station. The pub employes 28 foreign students who account for 60 percent of the part-time staff.

According to Nagoya-based Atom Corp., which runs the chain, 90 percent of the applications for part-time jobs come from non-Japanese.

“There used to be only two foreign part-timers, but the number has jumped drastically in the last year or two,” said Hirofumi Kokubo, an official of Atom’s sales division who managed the branch five years ago.

Since many universities and vocational schools are situated in the Meieki district, there are plenty of Japanese students, but Kokubo said young Japanese now prefer to work in fancy restaurants.

“People have this negative image that they have to deal with drunken people if they work in izakaya, so no one responds to our job offers even if we offer them high hourly pay,” he added.

Since July, Atom has been using the branch in Meitetsu Lejac as a training base for foreign part-time workers. Four full-time employees teach them the skills needed to cook and serve before sending them off to other branches, including in Fushimi and Sakae, that are short on staff.

According to DIP Corp., which runs Baitoru Tokai, a website for part-time job-seekers in the neighboring Tokai region, the number of wanted ads that said “foreign students welcome” in the four prefectures reached 17,000 in June, up 2.5 times from the previous year.

The ads are mostly from restaurants, including izakaya, followed by supermarkets, fast food shops and convenience stores.

“Japanese job-seekers are going for commercial facilities that have recently opened around Meieki, so a service industry that’s struggling to hire people has to rely on foreigners to offset for the labor shortage,” a DIP official overseeing the Tokai region said.

Foreign students are permitted to work up to 28 hours per week, according to their visa status.

According to the Aichi Labour Bureau, some 7,000 foreign students worked part-time in Aichi Prefecture last year — the third-largest number in Japan.

Commenting on the labor situation, professor Yuriko Sato of Tokyo Institute of Technology’s School of Environment and Society, who is well-versed on the situation with foreign students, said proper information disclosure and administrative checks are necessary to ensure their quality of education.

This section, appearing Tuesdays, features topics and issues from the Chubu region covered by the Chunichi Shimbun. The original article was published on Aug. 9.