Over the past decade the economic improvements have been subtle but ongoing in an ageing society with new challenges arising in key areas of the labor market. Japan is now faced with some tough decisions regarding importation of labor from other countries in the region, Myanmar and Vietnam are two examples. Some of the Vietnamese immigrants will be tasked with caring for the elderly, a job that is increasingly important in Japan. These imported workers meet standards of education and are generally very hard workers. These health care workers are featured on Japanese TV, learning Japanese language and culture. It is clear that the Japanese government is actively promoting a positive image in a society that is known for being closed.
Heath care, is just one area in which Japan needs help, and applying robots to assisted care facilities is just not enough. The Japanese government is now working to integrate people from who speak different languages into Japanese society but with limited success. Now that these workers are appearing around the country, there are many Japanese who are raising their voices. Also, there are complaints that workers are being paid 300 to 500 yen per hour, well below the 800 yen minimum wage set in many prefectures in Japan. So despite the government efforts to sell this idea, there are clear cases in which the system is failing or in the very least, suffering from poor execution.
However, the Japanese government has now set up a program to ensue that workers are trained and given support as their numbers increase. This technical program is now training 20 percent of the 1.28 million foreign workers who now reside in Japan. There is also a new visa system being set up that will allow for more efficient use of labor – note that the government has made it clear that these workers are temporary and they are not immigrants like those in North America and Europe – they will eventually leave Japan to return to their countries.