Local governments in Japan prepare to accept more foreign workers

A Vietnamese trainee works at a farm in Aichi Prefecture in January. | KYODO

VIETNAM, Nov 20, 2018, The Japan Times. As the Diet plans to start substantive deliberations on a bill to expand acceptance of foreign labor, local governments are beginning to prepare for the expected influx of foreign workers, reported The Japan Times.

Addressing labor shortages is a pressing matter for local governments.

The Chiba Prefectural Government, which is facing a shortage of caregivers, is pinning its hopes on Vietnamese nationals, who among the various groups of non-Japanese working in the prefecture have established a good reputation as a source of manpower.

During a visit to Vietnam, Chiba Gov. Kensaku Morita was scheduled to inspect a facility that provides Japanese language education and sends technical interns to Japan, as well as hold a meeting with the mayor of Ho Chi Minh City.

Speaking to reporters at Narita International Airport in Chiba Prefecture before his departure Thursday, Morita noted that while the central government decides the outline of programs, it is difficult to work out the details of the policy.

Morita added that deciding those details is a task for local governments.

He said that he hopes “to pave the way” for an exchange of memorandums and other agreements with the Vietnamese government after the Chiba Prefectural Government “thinks hard” and makes progress.

A Vietnamese trainee works at a farm in Aichi Prefecture in January. | KYODO

The Yamagata Prefectural Government is conducting a survey to understand issues relating to foreign workers, hoping to promote their employment.

The survey covers 2,000 companies in the prefecture within a variety of industries, including the manufacturing, construction and nursing care sectors.

After understanding issues relating to foreign workers, such as the need for training and education, as well as procedures for immigration and skills certification, the prefectural government will consider moves to address them. The measures will be included in the prefectural government’s draft budget for fiscal 2019.

Meanwhile, the Yokohama City Government plans to subsidize part of the school expenses and rent for nursing care trainees from Vietnam who are on Japan’s technical intern training program.

The city government has exchanged memorandums with three municipalities, as well as junior colleges and other institutions, in Vietnam.

While moves by local governments to secure foreign workers are expected to accelerate, many officials from those authorities have expressed concerns. Some cited worries about a scramble between local governments over foreign workers, while others voiced apprehension about inadequate progress in constructing systems to accept such workers.

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