Category Archives: Misc

Ministry of Justice’s human rights bodies offers free counseling services to foreign residents

(Extract from The Expat’s Guide to Japan- last updated: February 23, 2020)

Have you ever experienced discrimination because of your race or nationality, in your local community or workplace? Examples include being refused a rental property or store service on grounds of nationality, or one’s children experiencing bullying at school.

With the aim of giving proper respect to the human rights of foreign residents, the Human Rights Bodies has set up human rights counseling services accessible by phone (Foreign Language Human Rights Hotline), online (Human rights counseling services on the Internet) and in-person (Human rights counseling centers), through 50 Legal Affairs Bureaus and District Legal Affairs Bureaus nationwide, to support foreign residents who are not fluent Japanese speakers.

In addition, these bodies will assess through human rights consultation, the situation and, as a need requires, carry out investigations and take appropriate steps to help victims and prevent future occurrences. If you are worried about a possible human rights issue, get in touch. A staff member will be on hand to discuss your problem, and together you can look for the best possible solution.

Their services are available in English, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Portuguese, Spanish, Nepali, Thai, Filipino and Indonesian.
(Internet counseling services are available only in English and Chinese)

*As the bureau is a governmental body, all advice is neutral and impartial.
*Advice is offered free of charge, and no paperwork is required.
* Referrals, legal advice, mediations*¹ between the relevant parties and interventions*² demanding an improvement in behavior from human rights offenders are offered, as considered appropriate.
*¹ *² these measures will only be taken with the understanding and agreement of the relevant parties, and cannot be forced if either party is unwilling.
Foreign Language Human Rights Hotline
Counseling services available by phone, online and face-to-face:

Phone (Foreign Language Human Rights Hotline):
0570-090911 9:00am-5:00pm, Mon-Fri (closed for New Year Holidays)

Online (Human rights counseling services on the Internet) : (English) (Chinese)

Face-to-face (Human rights counseling centers):
Legal Affairs Bureaus and District Legal Affairs Bureaus (Japanese only)

Read more here:  (PDF)

When it comes to foreign hires, restaurant chains in Japan’s Chubu region are taking a long view

(Extract from Japan Times – August 30th, 2019)

Amid a continuing labor shortage in the food service industry, major restaurant chains in the Chubu region are hiring an increasing number of foreign workers who have just graduated from universities in Japan.

The firms are hiring them not as short-term, part-time workers but as permanent employees so that they will stay for a long time and make contributions such as attending to foreign customers and doing business abroad.

This spring, Sagami Holdings Corp., a Nagoya-based noodle restaurant chain operator, hired five people from China, Vietnam and Nepal who graduated from universities in Japan. It is the first time the firm hired non-Japanese new graduates as regular employees.

They all obtained a working visa and were assigned to work at the firm’s restaurants. “With the number of foreign tourists visiting our restaurants on the rise, they are working actively as floor staff,” said a Sagami Holdings spokesperson.

Since Sagami Holdings operates restaurants abroad, mainly in Southeast Asia, the firm hopes to assign them to handle business overseas in the future.

Expectations are high in the restaurant industry that a revised immigration control law, which took effect in April, will help resolve the manpower shortage. The industry is one of the 14 industries allowed to accept such people under the law.

The law allows visas for foreign nationals under a newly created status called Specified Skilled Worker No. 1, which grants a stay of up to five years, and some restaurant operators are encouraging foreign students who work for them as part-timers to take an exam to qualify for the visa.

But Sagami Holdings is looking for foreign workers who can be employed for a longer period.

“We are focusing on hiring (foreign people) as permanent staff to secure personnel who can work for us for a long time, rather than hiring people who can stay only for five years,” a Sagami Holdings employee said.

Companies have recently been struggling to secure regular workers. According to a survey conducted by credit research agency Teikoku Databank Ltd. in July on firms nationwide, 48.5 percent of the 10,091 firms that responded said they are short of permanent staff. As for restaurants and eateries, the figure was 60 percent, up 1.5 percentage points from the same month last year.

Meanwhile, Justice Ministry statistics show that in 2017, a record 22,419 foreign students obtained a residence status allowing them to work for companies in Japan after graduation, up 15.4 percent from the previous year.

Bronco Billy Co., a Nagoya-based firm that operates a steak restaurant chain, has been hiring foreign workers who have just graduated from Japanese universities as full-time staff since 2007.
Xia Gang, 38, manager of the chain’s restaurant in Nagoya’s Moriyama Ward, is one of those employees and joined the firm eight years ago after graduating from a university in Aichi Prefecture.
Xia, from China’s Jiangsu province, oversees the kitchen and customer service, as well as placing orders for food items and training part-timers. “I try to always respond cheerfully,” he said.
As of May, 54 of some 600 employees of Bronco Billy, or 9 percent, were foreign nationals, including Chinese and Nepalese.

“The labor shortage has been an issue and we have been hiring people who try hard regardless of nationality,” says Mitsuhiro Furuta, the firm’s director of business planning. “We hope (foreign staff) will play an active part when we start doing business abroad in the future.”

Kisoji Co., another Nagoya-based restaurant chain, has also been hiring foreign students who newly graduated from Japanese universities, and eight such people from places including China, South Korea and Taiwan currently work at the firm.

This section features topics and issues from the Chubu region covered by the Chunichi Shimbun. The original article was published on Aug. 23.

3,000 people to work in Japan under expanded visa system

(Extract from Japan Times – August 25th, 2019)

Over 3,000 foreign laborers are set to work under new visas introduced in April, the leader of the Immigration Services Agency said.

The agency envisions starting a public certification system for dedicated supporters of foreign people, Commissioner Shoko Sasaki, 57, said in a recent interview.

The Immigration Services Agency has been required to play the additional role of supporting foreign residents since a new status for foreign workers with designated skills was introduced, Sasaki said.
Many have been allowed to work under a provisional measure while waiting to receive the status, a process that has been delayed by slow procedures, she said.

In addition, many applications have been filed for change of visa and for residency status certifications by people living overseas, she continued.

If all of these cases are added up, the number exceeds 1,300, she said, citing data as of Aug. 16.
Furthermore, more than 2,000 people have passed industry-specific tests for the new status, according to the commissioner.

“Foreigners with the designated skills are expected to increase steadily,” Sasaki said.
Sasaki denied foreign workers are over concentrated in urban areas, saying applications are accepted and technical intern training provided nationwide.

Under the expanded visa system, business and other entities as well as individuals have registered as support organizations for foreign people hoping to work in Japan under the new visa status, including workers with relatively low skills.

The registered organizations are obliged to secure proper employment and give adequate support to their customers, she said.

This is the first time for the immigration authority to make such support an obligation, according to Sasaki.

“We took care to create a system in which foreign workers have someone to turn to,” she said.

“I think it would be great if there is a dedicated profession to support foreigners as infrastructure of a society where foreigners will continue to increase,” Sasaki said.

If the system of publicly certifying the profession “works well, it may become a key feature of Japan’s foreign worker admission policy,” she added.

Immigration agency officials have talked about the possibility of creating such a system, according to Sasaki.

But for now, the priority is to foster support organizations registered under the current system, she said.