The editorial “Support for foreign laborers” in the Dec. 30 edition enticed me into quickly reading it to the end. It’s a blessing that up to 345,000 blue-collar workers will come to Japan in the first five years of the new visa program because Japan has been suffering from a chronic manpower shortage.
Continuous support of various kinds for these workers will be a must. In addition to language assistance, newcomers should learn the customs and traditions of Japan to get used to daily life here and prevent troubles and conflicts with their new neighbors.
Establishing consultation centers is also a good solution to help them during natural disasters and to prevent accidents. The staff should convey such precautions concisely and in multiple languages.
However, I worry about the disparity between municipalities, so the national government should make solid, detailed standards and not rely on local governments to do so. What matters most is how to accept non-Japanese as members of society. Unfortunately, the mass media is not providing a blueprint even though the new system will be introduced this April.
Besides overhauling policies, we citizens should change our mindset and wipe away biases and prejudices against non-Japanese, though they are deep-rooted. In particular, people who are prideful about Japan’s homogeneous society and alienate outsiders should be educated about the current global society.
It’s natural that decent working conditions, wages equal to those of their Japanese counterparts and freedom of residence should be full-fledged for the newcomers, so they can lead comfortable lives here.
Now that workers from overseas will be a kind of savior for our sluggish economy, in return we should respect them and do everything for their well-being. When we master a foreign language, English or any others, we can help foreigners more concretely. And we will build a friendship with our new neighbors that we can’t put a price tag on.
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.