Timely support for Vietnamese workers in Japan to adapt to weak Japanese Yen

Thursday, 10/11/2022 15:59
Vietnam is the country with the largest number of skilled interns in Japan. According to the statistics of the Immigration Services Agency of Japan (ISA), by the end of 2021, there were 276,123 foreign interns working in this country, of which 160,563 were Vietnamese interns, accounting for 58%.
Minister of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs Dao Ngoc Dung had a working session with Japanese Minister of Health, Labor and Social Welfare Katsunobu Kato in Tokyo (Photo: VNA)  

However, many people worry that Japan may become less attractive to Vietnamese interns if the Japanese Yen (JPY)'s devaluation extends.

Therefore, the authorities of Vietnam and Japan, together with the receiving companies and trade unions of Japan, need to soon find solutions to reduce difficulties for the interns.

Mr. Uchida Hideaki, Assistant of the Director of the Public Interest Foundation International Manpower Development Organization (IM Japan) of the Tokyo Branch, said that JPY’s devaluation may have a negative impact on the reception of foreign interns of Japanese enterprises. The number of interns going to Japan may decrease, he told the Vietnam News Agency correspondent.

Sharing the same view, Mr. Hiroaki Yagi, President of the Japan International Trainee & Skilled Worker Cooperation Organization (JITCO), said that JPY’s devaluation and rising inflation are making Japan less attractive in the eyes of foreign employees, thereby making it more difficult to recruit interns to work in this country.

To address the issue, Mr. Yagi said that Japan's Central Minimum Wage Council has proposed to raise the minimum wage in fiscal 2022 to a record high.

The minimum wage in fiscal 2022 (ending at the end of March 2023) was increased by 31JPY to 961JPY per hour (equivalent to over 7.2 USD), an increase of 3.3% compared to fiscal 2021.

This new minimum wage is applied to all workers, including contract employees and part-time employees, from the beginning of October 2022.

Currently, however, the rate of wage growth in Japan is still lower than inflation. So Prime Minister Fumio Kishida's administration is aiming to raise the national minimum wage to 1,000JPY per hour as soon as possible.

Along with the minimum wage increase, Mr. Yagi revealed that the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has planned to cooperate with the Vietnamese side to study and build a new recruitment system to eliminate intermediary organizations and reduce initial costs for interns.

Under this plan, JICA will set up a website for Vietnamese employees to apply for the skilled intern training program in Japan, with the aim of cutting down on the fees that Vietnamese interns pay for intermediary organizations before going to this country.

The website will provide information for those wishing to apply for the skilled intern training program in Japan about training opportunities in this country, including information about workplace, salary and holidays during the year. After receiving the information, those in need will register directly with dispatching companies in Vietnam without going through brokers.

According to experts, if implemented, this system will certainly help reduce the initial cost burden for interns before they go to Japan.

Mr. Nguyen Duc Nam, General Director of International Manpower Supply and Trading Joint Stock Company (SONA), said that he highly appreciated the features of those websites. However, communications must be promoted to make those websites known by many workers in Vietnam, he said.

On the Vietnamese side, in order to reduce the impact of the devaluation of the yen and inflation on interns working in Japan, Deputy Minister of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs Nguyen Ba Hoan said: “We have asked the Japanese side to request receiving organizations to have solutions to support workers such as support for housing, meals and some other services within the acceptable range of trade unions. The second is to study to raise the minimum wage for skilled interns as well as for special workers.”

Earlier, at a meeting with Japanese Minister of Health, Labor and Social Welfare Katsunobu Kato in Tokyo in September, Minister of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs Dao Ngoc Dung asked the Japanese side to consider exempting Vietnamese interns from residence tax and income tax Japan applies to interns from some other countries.

The Vietnamese interns hope that Japanese authorities will soon consider this proposal to help them reduce their current difficulties./.