Japan is trying to lower the labor supply by offering to pay foreign workers to go home.
Japan’s offer, extended to hundreds of thousands of blue-collar Latin American immigrants, is part of a new drive to encourage them to leave this recession-racked country. So far, at least 100 workers and their families have agreed to leave, Japanese officials said.
The program is limited to the country’s Latin American guest workers, whose Japanese parents and grandparents emigrated to Brazil and neighboring countries a century ago to work on coffee plantations.
In 1990, Japan — facing a growing industrial labor shortage — started issuing thousands of special work visas to descendants of these emigrants. An estimated 366,000 Brazilians and Peruvians now live in Japan.
The guest workers quickly became the largest group of foreign blue-collar workers in an otherwise immigration-averse country, filling the so-called three-K jobs (kitsui, kitanai, kiken — hard, dirty and dangerous).
But the nation’s manufacturing sector has slumped as demand for Japanese goods evaporated, pushing unemployment to a three-year high of 4.4 percent. Japan’s exports plunged 45.6 percent in March from a year earlier, and industrial production is at its lowest level in 25 years.
New data from the Japanese trade ministry suggested manufacturing output could rise in March and April, as manufacturers start to ease production cuts. But the numbers could have more to do with inventories falling so low that they need to be replenished than with any increase in demand.
While Japan waits for that to happen, it has been keen to help foreign workers leave, which could ease pressure on domestic labor markets and the unemployment rolls.
Well, one thing which is acknowledged in Japan, with labor, the age old economic law of supply and demand applies.
One thing becomes quite clear, which no corporate lobbyist will tell you, trading people has real consequences to real lives and isn't the grand win-win as commonly touted by cheap labor interests.