For the second Roundtable on Japan’s Migration Policy held in FY2020, JCIE hosted a meeting on the theme, “The Impact of COVID-19 on Employment and the Daily Lives of Foreign Residents Living in Japan.” The meeting was once again held online due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Tomohiro Ota, senior economist at Goldman Sachs, spoke during the first session on “COVID-19’s Impact on the Japanese Economy and Employment Policies for Foreign Residents,” moderated by Akio Okawara (president and CEO, JCIE/Japan). Ota spoke about COVID-19’s impact on foreign workers as well as the structural changes surrounding foreign workers. He pointed out that, although a gradual increase in foreign workers entering Japan is expected, there will be certain industries that face shortages of workers due to the variations in demand for foreign workers and their tendency to favor workers from certain countries, and the current pandemic-related regulations on entry into Japan. Furthermore, in response to questions from the members and reports on their events, he noted that even if there are labor surpluses in some industries, the demand for young foreign workers will not decrease, and he emphasized the need for the inclusion of foreigners in Japanese society—including the business sector.
This was followed by a discussion on the need for a safety net for foreign residents who are going through an employment or life crisis, which was moderated by JCIE’s Toshihiro Menju. First, Masakuni Hirashima, a representative from the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, discussed the government’s response to COVID-19 for foreign residents. Discussion continued with comments from Alberto Okamura, president and CEO of One Visa, who described how, having himself been born and raised in Peru before coming to Japan, decided to start a business to assist others in acquiring visas. He also spoke about the current situation of providing support to foreign residents through online consultations.
Participants then touched on the situation of increased layoffs of foreign workers and potential countermeasures for this issue, such as including Japanese language training as part of job training and reexamining technical internships.
In his closing remarks, Akio Okawara pointed out the important role of this roundtable in creating an accurate understanding of the situations being caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and in identifying solutions.