Business / Economy

Japan to help those left jobless by virus find work in farming

Jiji

The agriculture ministry will encourage people who have lost their jobs due to the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic to work in the farm industry by offering financial support.

In the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, approximately 1,900 Chinese and other foreign technical interns have been unable to come to Japan, affecting work in which foreign trainees have played major roles, such as vegetable harvesting.

The ministry plans to subsidize costs for training and accommodation to back up re-employment of those who previously worked at such industries as hotels and restaurants. At the same time, the support measure is aimed at helping resolve a labor shortage in agriculture.

In soliciting applications, a senior ministry official said that “work in farmland is less likely to create a closed and crowded environment involving close contact with others,” a setting thought likely to cause coronavirus infections.

The ministry expects applicants to be engaged in farm work near their residences so as not to arouse concerns that people relocating may spread the novel coronavirus.

The subsidies will cover part of transportation and accommodation costs for a wide range of assumed applicants, including working adults, housewives and students.

The aid program will also pay half of the costs of agricultural cooperatives and farmers for recruiting people via private-sector staffing services.

Those who have experience in working in the farm industry will be given opportunities to learn how to operate cutting-edge agricultural machinery at universities and other facilities. The ministry will subsidize costs for introducing such machinery used in training.

As part of a government economic stimulus package now in the works, the ministry plans to earmark some ¥4.6 billion under a fiscal 2020 supplementary budget. If the extra budget is approved by the Diet, the ministry hopes to implement the subsidy program retroactive to April 1, officials said.

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