Tonight on NHK Newswatch 9 there was not one, but two back-to-back stories on foreigners in Japan. The first looked at the older group, the Zainichi voting for the first time in the upcoming Korean election. They focused on two people, one an 87 year old who came over before the war and joined (or was enlisted into) the Japanese army. However, due to the section he was in (I didn’t quite catch which – perhaps he was stationed in Korea?) if he had returned back home he would have been guilty of war crimes. James at Japan Probe had a story from a while back about how Korea to this day treats those they judge traitors – here it is.
Second was a look at Indonesian nurses; just recently we read an article telling us how 95% fail the exam and they are just exploited as cheap labour. However, this year about 38% passed (the newly-introduced version with furigana over all kanji), a bit over half the rate of native Japanese. We visited a couple of people working in Yamanashi, where the manager of the old folks’ home that they worked in was quoted as saying that a three year internship costs the company about 8 million yen per person over the three years to provide a dormitory, translator services, training, etc, yet they only get about a tenth of that back from the government, thus hiring foreign labour puts a serious strain on the budget, but without foreign staff they’d probably have to close as they cannot find Japanese willing to work there. That doesn’t seem like a very profitable way to exploit people.
In the same segment they visited Yokohama City, one of the few places being proactive in getting the nurses through the test. There the city provides a number of free extras, including a six-month weekend juku studying how to pass the exam. That seems like someone is throwing a wedge into the revolving door.
Anyway, congratulations to the newly-qualified Japanese nurses (both native and immigrant) and best of luck for the future in your vocation!
PS: If you saw the same news stories, please feel free to correct any errors I might have made above.