Global News

Japan: becoming a country attractive for foreign personnel – what should be done

・Securing a stable source of personnel – winning in the global competition now involves human resources acquisition
・Creating a society structure with ample mechanisms to enable fruitful “coexistence with foreigners”.
・To become a “country, where the best would gather”, a drastic remodeling of the national psyche is necessary states Sai Murayama (44 yrs old), a researcher at University of California, Berkeley, who was recently scouted to become head of a new research centre at Tokyo University, established this January. Mr. Murayama’s work in the sphere of astrophysics is highly evaluated, and he has made valuable contributions to solving the enigma of the beginning of the universe.
Ignoring the reality
Murayama has reported Tokyo University an unheard of annual income of 25 mln yen. He attracted wide attention as the man whose income is roughly double the mean yearly salary of other Tokyo University faculty and “exceeds annual income of the dean”. But Mr. Murayama was puzzled by this reaction. “Why should this be so surprising?” he asks. “Researchers’ work is evaluated by worldwide standards. Ignoring this will not enable us to gather the best researchers here in the future.”
A Japanese system developer, which has organized a career event in Mumbai, India, failed to bring in the expected number of prospective candidates to the company information session. Only 3 years before over 1000 candidates were eager to attend such an event, but this time organizers managed to get only 150 prospective emplyees to come to the venue, even though e-mail invitations were repeatedly sent out beforehand.
“It is a pity, but Japanese companies are now considered second-class on the world job market” says Yusuke Higaki, president of Jobstreet, an employment support website focused on South-East Asian countries. An Indian programmer who has worked for a Japanese IT-company agrees “One cannot from a long-term relationship with a company where employees are ranked by their Japanese proficiency rather than by their professional skills”.
Japanese government has formulated a detailed program aimed at attracting foreign personnel from top world higher education institutions many years ago. But now one cannot expect that opening the door will at once bring crowds of candidates wishing to work in Japan. Highly qualified personnel, profiting of the recent IT boom and globalization trends, is crossing borders while actively seeking the best place to apply its skills. “Candidates who have gone through the Japanese system of education lack understanding of global business and their language skills are insufficient”. In this light elite HEC school based in Paris has started a program aimed at re-educating Japanese college graduates. A male college student from Tokyo comments “I have decided to apply because I saw that at HEC, the image of a graduate they are aiming to educate, was much more concrete compared to the ideas presented by Japanese graduate schools”. Japan now faces not only problems in attracting personnel from abroad, but also a brain drain threat.
While efforts to attract the best foreign personnel can be said to produce zero feedback, the Japanese government on the other hand is doing everything not to let unqualified laborers into the country. In Japan everyone seems to be ignoring the paradoxical situation with illegal workers, which is only getting more complicated each year.
Ministry of Justice has recently issued a “Guideline” for companies and associations accepting “interns” from abroad, listing the various “don’ts”, which include: “Paying the 80000 yen per month internship allowance at a piecemeal rate”, “Enforcing late-hours’ and early-hours’ work”, “Retrieving passports to prevent desertion”. The issuance of this guide shows to what extent illegal practices have become widespread. While this “Guideline” has little legal power, it shows the government has not yet developed a coherent stance towards this problem. In Japan, there are over 1000 cooperatives, many of which are active in completing road-related projects, where foreign interns are involved.

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