Capitalism Doing in Japan Now By James Reed
We don’t hear much about this, but Japan, with its low birth rate, is also being subjected to immigration, not for replacement, as in the West, but on economic grounds, for the capitalists to keep the profits up. It is causing untold problems in this still relatively homogeneous population:
“In recent years, an increasing number of foreigners have been finding jobs in Japan, and not just in humanities and international services roles like teaching and translation. As more non-Japanese workers start joining the general-purpose Japanese workforce, though, some of their Japanese bosses are struggling with the changes to the business landscape, as shown in a recent survey by Japanese employment agency Persol Group. In a survey of Japanese managers with foreign subordinates, 34.3 percent of the 872 respondents reported that they feel intense stress because of the challenges the situation presents. Moreover, 17.2 percent of the managers of foreign workers said that if they could, they would like to quit their jobs immediately.
When asked just what sort of difficulties they were grappling with (and allowed multiple answers), the managers had a long list of problems, with the top five being:
1. Foreign workers are very self-assertive (46.1 percent)
2. They don’t understand things that are considered common sense to Japanese people (41.6 percent)
3. They make aggressive demands for salary raises (40.7 percent)
4. They have a low level of loyalty towards the company/organization (40.1 percent)
5. It takes a long time to teach them how to do their jobs (40 percent)
In addition when asked about the skill level of their foreign subordinates, 30 percent of managers said they were insufficiently skilled, and only 39,6 percent found their skills to be satisfactory. Given the stigma that Japanese management philosophies have as rigid and outdated, it’d be pretty easy to dump all the responsibility for these problems on the managers themselves. If so many of those dinosaurs want to quit because they think working with foreigners is too hard, then their resignations can’t come soon enough, right? Maybe. It’s also possible, though, that many of these problems aren’t 100-percent management issues, but human resource ones as well. Traditionally, companies in Japan aren’t so concerned with experience or specialized education when hiring new workers. Japanese applicants regularly get hired for positions in fields completely unrelated to what they studied, with the understanding that the company will train them on the job.
That work style, though, largely assumes that new workers will accept and follow the instructions of their managers, quickly getting them to perform the tasks and fulfill the roles the company expects. However, a more self-assertive individual is less likely to respond well to this, feeling that if they’ve been hired, it’s a validation of their already-held opinions on how work should be done. With 30 percent of the managers reporting that their foreign subordinates aren’t skilled enough to handle their day-to-day responsibilities, it could be that some Japanese HR departments are hiring foreign workers who aren’t yet capable of doing what the company requires without additional training, but failing to communicate that their hiring is predicated on the assumption that they’re joining the company with a willingness to adapt to its existing systems and style. This would also gel with the 40 percent of managers who said it takes too long to teach foreign subordinates how to do their jobs. It’s possible that Japanese managers are expecting on-the-job-training to be a top-down case of explaining how the company wants things done, not a debate where they also have to spend time presenting their arguments as to why things can’t be done the way an employee wants to do them.
It is difficult, but Japan will have to get used to immigrants. China too should start to get ready to open its doors to millions of Africans now that there is such a warm economic relationship between Africa and China, to be covered in another article at this site.