• Kyodo


Nearly 80 percent of companies pay their foreign employees equal or higher wages compared with their Japanese staff, a think tank survey showed Wednesday.

The Japan Research Institute said corporate managers generally welcome the new visa system to accept more foreigners staff — mostly for blue-collar work — that began in April, but wage gaps are still seen at small and midsize companies, and many firms still have no plans to hire foreigners.

The institute found that 77.1 percent paid the same or similar wages to non-Japanese, while 1.8 percent paid them higher wages than their Japanese counterparts.

But it also found 6.0 percent paid foreign workers less than their Japanese employees, and 11.8 percent paid them the minimum wage or just above.

The government released ordinances in March requiring employers to pay non-Japanese similar or higher wages than Japanese nationals to ease concerns about labor exploitation.

The institute’s findings are based on responses between Jan. 26 and Feb. 22 from 1,039 companies across the nation, of which 41.0 percent currently employ foreigners.

Some 41.4 percent of the companies said they have never hired foreigners, and 12.7 percent said they once had foreign staff members but no longer do.

Among the companies that have never hired foreigners, 26.0 percent said they would offer jobs to Japanese people first, and 24.6 percent decided not to because of the more complicated procedures required in personnel affairs management, the survey showed.

Small and midsize companies facing revenue difficulties have a backward attitude toward wage increases for their foreign workers, the institute said.

“If companies become reluctant to raise wages, they would not only risk losing the global race to attract foreign workers but face challenges in sustaining their operations in the future,” it said.

Regarding training for foreign workers, 55.5 percent said they are not doing anything, and 29.4 percent offer some form of training programs.

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