APFS held a round-table discussion with actual foreign laborers.

On March 2, 2019, APFS held a round-table discussion entitled “The Voices of Current Foreign Laborers Prior to the New Laborer Influx”. To get a better picture of the lives of current foreign laborers in various industries, we invited Mr. Chaklader of a management consulting company, Ms. Lee, a software developer for an IT company, and Mr. Maung Hla Thein, a former technical trainee for a construction company, to talk about their experiences in Japan. They spoke of difficulties communicating with co-workers due to language and work-culture differences, the hassle of constantly having to renew their visas, and the ongoing problem of unpaid wages in the technical trainee program. They mentioned that they, and their friends who immigrated to various other countries, increasingly use social media to exchange information about their living conditions and livelihood in those countries. They pointed out that since the wage disparity between Japan and other Asian high-economic growth countries is decreasing, laborers like themselves take into account not only the actual wages paid, but also the living and working conditions when choosing which country to immigrate to.

APFS representative, Ms. Yoshida, then explained the details of the revised Immigration Control Law, effective April, and how it would affect the future handling of undocumented residents, referring to government published data and statistics handed out during the meeting. While it had been speculated by many undocumented residents that the granting of Special Permission to Stay, a pardon status that can be granted to undocumented residents, would increase, Ms. Yoshida showed that, on the contrary, the granting of this pardon was in considerable decline, and that the wording of the revised Immigration Control Law implied that this trend would continue. Furthermore, Ms. Yoshida showed that the Ministry of Justice has shown an increased willingness to swiftly deport those under review, as well as prolong the detention period for those in detention. APFS opposes this trend, and is considering submitting its proposal to the Ministry of Justice. We plan to make an appeal to legalize the status of current undocumented residents who are deeply rooted and living in Japanese society, prior to the influx of new foreign laborers.

The revised Immigration Control Law, effective April, will have have an impact in ways that are still unpredictable. We at APFS will continue to do our best to listen to the stories of those concerned.