If Japan changes the maximum renewable visa to five years, does this really change anything?

Some great comments on Japan Today about the Kyodo News report.

A number of commenters raise the point that if Japanese employers rely exclusively on one-year or other short-term contracts, it doesn’t really matter if the visa stamp says three years or five years. The problem is that professionals won’t stay if their careers are going to be short-circuited.

This is not a language problem. It is the failure to apply labor and contract law equally among Japanese and non-Japanese.

Remember, too, the three cards played by Japanese employers. Just to mention them again:

#1 Language. “Sorry, you don’t speak the language.”

#2 Perceived Difference. (Those who can speak the language.) “We don’t have any problem with the language skills, but for X reason, you won’t be able to succeed in the job.”

#3 Don’t understand the wa. (Those who are ethnic Japanese and speak the language, brought up overseas.) “You speak Japanese and look Japanese. But you spent too much time overseas, so don’t understand Japanese culture as well as Japanese who didn’t.”

People who debate the success or lack thereof of the foreign community in Japan typically focus on Card One. But Cards Two and Three are there, and are played often within those groups.

It’s great if you can do paperwork every five years, instead of every three. But it really does nothing to cure the labor and contract issues that keep appearing. I am reassured my the kinds of comments on Japan Today that these are, in fact, continuing issues.

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One comment

  1. notcho · June 10, 2011

    I think your last paragraph hit the target – all it accomplishes (from my own perspective) is that it lessens the burden of doing the official paperwork (especially for dependants, possibly) – as far as how the new policy changes the work/life conditions, chances are it does not. It’s also frightening but not unexpected that so many echoed with negative sentiment regarding life as a foreign resident in Japan.

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