The discussion regarding the new migrant worker programs is ongoing in response to growing calls to address Japan’s acute worker shortage. However, in a recent online survey, 56.3 percent of the respondents were fine with the status quo, 23.9 percent hoped for more laborers from abroad and 19.8 percent preferred to see fewer foreign nationals than now.
I would be in the 56.3 percent and hope that we don’t leap to a hasty decision leading to the acceptance of an excessive number of migrant workers only as a way to use them to address the severe labor shortage.
Before that, we should urgently discuss how we can improve the present situation for international workers by improving their working conditions, social benefits and Japanese-language training. At the same time we should educate Japanese people on how to coexist with international people at work and in the community.
Through these steps the foreign trainees would be less apt to flee from their workplaces, a problem that is growing worse. It’s doubtful that Japanese companies are taking care of them not only in regard to their work training but also their daily life.
Moreover, it’s not only those companies’ responsibility. The most vital support must come from surrounding people so as not to isolate them in our society — we are learning from other countries that such isolation causes discrimination, division, frustration and security problems. We must not follow suit.
I hope we can find a more effective way to make the best of the foreign workforce already here, while the government encourages high-tech firms to invent more efficient machinery and robots to fill the gap in the labor shortage. This is the best solution.
The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.