Foreigners First To Go as Japanese Automakers Struggle

John Horner
by John Horner
foreigners first to go as japanese automakers struggle

Japan’s auto manufacturing sector has relied heavily on guest workers in recent years, often from Brazil (thanks to the large number of Brazilians of Japanese decent.) “Japan has begun attracting large numbers of foreign workers only in the past 15 years to meet a labor shortage as the country ages,” the AP reports. “The increase has been rapid, more than doubling from 370,000 foreigners working legally in Japan in 1996 to 755,000 in 2006.” Japan is a famously immigration resistant nation, yet the allure of Brazilian nationals willing to work for $12/hour– instead of $20/hour rate for Japanese nationals– have cause a change in behavior, if not in attitudes. But now that hard times are hitting everywhere, the AP says these guest workers are being shown the door. Japan’s vaunted full employment tradition at major companies is built on a bit of a lie, or at least misdirection. There is a pecking order with full time employees of major name companies at the top and several layers of subcontractor assembly and parts suppliers below. The further down the chain you go, the lower the pay and the less the job security. Guest workers are something of an embarrassment to Japanese citizens, and when times are tough, they are toughest for these “guests”. “‘The number of cars being produced is decreasing, so there’s nothing for the foreigners to make,’ said Masahiro Morishita, who works FujiArte, an employment agency that hires foreigners in Hamamatsu.” Foreign workers get the leftovers, never the main meal.

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  • Nick Nick on Oct 23, 2008

    Um, not to go off on a tangent, but with ethnic mixtures like that (Japanese Brazilian) it's not hard to see why Rio is a feast for the male eyes. Crowded beaches aren't my cup of tea but...a couple of days there should be on any man's bucket list. Did you say something about cars?

  • Stingray Stingray on Oct 23, 2008

    I think it's kinda unfair... but the reasons just don't come to my mind. I see as: brazilian worker do the job japanese worker doesn't want, get paid less and when it gets tough, then they get their asses kicked... and since is so easy to go back... And... ummm why are they ashamed of imported workers?

  • Bloodnok Bloodnok on Oct 23, 2008

    i worked in hamamatsu in the early 90s. it was a bit disconcerting to go to the immigration office to renew my visa & to be offered translated documents in portuguese. i'd been under the (false) impression the japanese thought all foreigners were american ...

  • Akitadog Akitadog on Oct 23, 2008

    Those WW2 Axis countries sure loved escaping to South America!