National

Foreign part-timers at Japan’s convenience stores rising

Kyodo

The number of non-Japanese part-time workers employed at the three major convenience store chain operators reached about 44,000 in August, a major increase from just 10 years ago.

The figure, an estimate based on data provided from franchised outlets of Seven Eleven Japan Co., FamilyMart Co. and Lawson Inc., accounts for roughly 6 percent of all part-timers in the three chains.

The three convenience store chain operators have actively employed non-Japanese in the face of a chronic workforce shortage. Although the majority of such workers are studying in Japan, the Japan Franchise Association plans to ask the government to add management of convenience stores to the jobs covered by the government-sponsored Technical Intern Training Program by the end of the year.

The training program is aimed at fostering human resources in developing countries by providing technical skills, technology and knowledge while working in companies or on farms.

The number of foreign workers hit a record 1.08 million last October, with that of part-time workers and apprentices showing significant growth.

The ratio of non-Japanese part-timers at Seven Eleven stood at 6.5 percent of its total workforce, five times more than eight years ago. The ratio at FamilyMart was 5 percent and at Lawson 4.5 percent.

The ratios are higher in urban areas. In the case of Seven Eleven, foreign part-timers accounted for some 20 percent in Tokyo, while the ratio in Hokkaido was less than 1 percent.