We held our 20th Gathering of Migrant Laborers

The 20th APFS Migrant Workers Gathering was held at Itabashi Ward Green Hall on Sunday, April 28, 2019. APFS advisor, Mr. Yoshinari, started the event by speaking about the new immigration law revision. Japan’s Immigration Control Act was revised in April, and under the new revision, Japan is to accept up to 350,000 migrant workers in 14 different industry categories. However, current migrant workers in Japan still suffer from unpaid salaries and unfair dismissals, among other violations of their rights. Because of these problems, they do not have peace of mind regarding their work. Migrant workers do have rights, such as minimum wage and paid leave, and Mr. Yoshinari mentioned how important it was for these workers to know, understand, and use the system in order to improve their working conditions.

APFS representative director, Ms. Yoshida, then gave a more detailed explanation of the “Specific Skills” status of residence created by the immigration law revision. Up until now, residence statuses have been granted to people who have either graduated from a university in Japan or have had a long professional work history in their home country. However, under the new “Specific Skills” qualification, workers who did not qualify previously will now be able to obtain residence status. This is a big change in immigration policy, but there are some important points to keep in mind. For example, there are only 9 countries from which Japan will accept these workers, testing venues are limited, workers are not allowed to bring their families with them to Japan, and their maximum stay is limited to 5 years, none of which count toward satisfying the residence requirement for permanent residency. Ms. Yoshida invited anyone in the audience who had family or friends who were thinking about applying for the “Specific Skills” qualification to consult with APFS. Ms. Yoshida pointed out that although there is a rumour circulating among some residents in Japan that a secondary effect of this new immigration policy is that the government will show more leniency toward undocumented residents, the opposite is in fact true; that the government has indicated that they will be more strict toward undocumented residents.

Finally, a number of participants talked about their activities and experiences at APFS. The participants came from Bangladesh, the Philippines, Myanmar, and other countries, and spoke about their experiences in Japan, supporting and encouraging each other with regard to problems faced. Afterwards, we ate Bangladeshi curry, and enjoyed some songs and dances of Arakan, Myanmar, along with lively musical performances from the Bangladeshi musical groups Uttoron and Schollippi. It was a lively gathering, with families of multi-generations, including children who have grown up in Japan. APFS will continue to work together with migrant workers to solve problems so that they can achieve independence.