Vol.5 “Reportage: The Factories of Despair in Japan” (tentative English title)

*This book is not available in English.

It didn’t take me long to finish reading this book. Although dealing with the issue of “modern slavery” on a daily basis, I knew almost nothing about the reality that had been happening in Japan, or even right next to me…I was quite shocked by my own ignorance. While issues on foreign technical intern trainees have gained more media attention recently, problems surrounding foreign students are scarcely reported. Yet, according to the author, some foreign students (called “disguised foreign students” in the book) face much more severe conditions than technical intern trainees.     

Furthermore, I could not understand the contradictory situation of caregivers and nurses from the Philippines and Indonesia, who had come to Japan through the EPA (Economic Partnership Agreement) and expected to solve Japan’s labor shortage, yet eventually had to go home in disappointment because they could not pass the national exams for qualification. Reading this book gave me the answer: after all, this confusion was caused by irresponsible, selfish politicians and government officials.

With all these stakeholders, who seek immediate results, place their own profit as top priority, and selfishly act to skim the cream off, I wonder how can a migrant worker policy result in success? If we hold on to unfair policies to take advantage of the foreign labor force, sooner or later, no one would come to Japan even if we plead with people abroad. Or, this might be already happening. Sadly, it may be the fault of Japanese society that more and more foreigners who came here originally with dreams, feel deceived and resentments build day by day. Is this the situation we really want? 

The word “Despair” in the title was probably intended to refer to the feelings of exploited foreign workers. However, after reading this book, I could not help but think that the word refers to our own despair towards our government and our own future as taxpayers. The one feeling desperate towards this country is not a foreign worker, but myself. (Mariko Yamaoka)  【*This review was originally written in 2016】

(Written by Yasuhiro Idei, Published in 2016 by Kobunsha (+α Shinsho), 192p, 840yen+tax, https://bookclub.kodansha.co.jp/product?item=0000202016