Survey: 40% of Japan’s Foreign Workers Experience Discrimination

Survey: 40% of Japan’s Foreign Workers Experience Discrimination

Roughly 40 percent of expatriate professionals working in Japan say they feel discriminated against at work on account of their nationality or gender, Chisato Tanaka writes for the Japan Times, citing a recent survey by Adecco Ltd.:

Responding to a multiple-answer question on what they do not like about working in Japan, 43 percent cited gender inequality. Around 40 percent said they have trouble with indirect or nonverbal communication with colleagues.

Asked how they see their Japanese colleagues’ performance, 80 percent said their Japanese peers are precise in their work. But 72 percent complained that there were too many pointless meetings. … According to the survey, 47 percent of respondents also felt they are not given equal opportunities compared with their Japanese colleagues.

Nonetheless, the survey found that 77 percent of respondents were satisfied with their current work conditions and 88 percent wanted to keep working in Japan.

Faced with an aging population and a shrinking workforce, historically immigrant-averse Japan has sought to open its borders to more foreign talent in recent years. For instance, last April, the government relaxed permanent residency requirements for highly-skilled foreigners, such that they need only to have lived in Japan for one year before applying for residency rather than five (China is also courting “high-end” global talent with relaxed visa rules).

These efforts to grow the workforce with foreign talent have been slow going, however, as aspects of Japan’s work culture such as overwork, rigid hierarchies, and a “company-first” mindset make it unattractive to many foreigners. As Adecco’s survey suggests, significant numbers of foreign workers also feel unwelcome in their Japanese workplaces. Overcoming this obstacle is among the key challenges for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as he aims to reverse the decline of his country’s workforce.