SIGforum.com    Main Page  Hop To Forum Categories  The Lounge    As Japan Runs Short of Farmworkers, Bureaucrats Get Sent Into the Fields
Page 1 2 
Go
New
Find
Notify
Tools
Reply
  
As Japan Runs Short of Farmworkers, Bureaucrats Get Sent Into the Fields Login/Join 
Member
posted
Interesting story. Did not realize ONE THIRD of their population is over 65.

HIROSAKI, Japan—Many areas of Japan are running so short of working-age people that local-government administrators are helping out on farms.

On a recent weekend, Yoshiaki Kato joined a few elderly women in harvesting apples at an orchard in Hirosaki, a city in the country’s north. Mr. Kato also occasionally carried baskets of the fruit and loaded them onto a cart before driving them away to be sorted by size and quality.

“I usually do desk work, so this is sort of refreshing for me,” said Mr. Kato, a 33-year-old official at the tourism division in Hirosaki city hall.

He is among a dozen city officials who have been dragooned into weekend work in the orchards for $6 to $7 an hour, less than half of what they usually earn, in a region of Japan known for its juicy apples.



“This is the next step for us to protect our main industry,” said Shinichi Sakaki, a manager in the city-hall division that supports local apple producers. A survey of farmers in the Hirosaki area, many of them elderly, found that 80% are concerned about the lack of workers.

Similar scenarios are playing out across Japan, which has been shrinking for over a decade due to low birthrates. Almost a third of the population is now 65 or older.

The country has ushered more women and elderly into the workforce to help address its chronic labor shortage. With the supply of another group that has helped fill the gap—foreign workers—sputtering since the pandemic began, Japan is now turning to public servants.

The country mostly closed its borders for over two years, largely cutting off the flow of foreign labor. Now that it has reopened, a sharp decline in the value of the yen—as much as 25% against the dollar this year—is making already modest wages even less attractive for the workers in developing countries whom Japan is trying to draw. Few farm or factory jobs pay more than $7 an hour.


Most of the orchard’s apple-harvest helpers are women, the owner says—average age over 70.
Companies that dispatch foreign workers to Japanese farms, factories or elderly-care facilities say that some want to return earlier than planned, or prefer to move to other countries, such as Australia, which recently started receiving Vietnamese workers on agricultural visas with much higher salaries than Japan. Vietnamese are the largest group of foreign workers in Japan.

Mornings this past summer and fall, starting at 5 a.m., Shiro Sakashita pitched in for a couple of hours of drying kelp before heading to work at the town hall in the hamlet of Samani on the northern island of Hokkaido.

“It was quite tough for my body to get accustomed to the work,” said the 47-year-old, one of some three dozen Samani officials drafted to dry kelp—used to make broth—or pick strawberries. After shuffling seaweed some days, he said, he got drowsy dealing with paperwork.

For decades Japan has struggled with death from overwork, or karoshi, and after some high-profile cases a few years ago, the government encouraged workers and businesses to reduce overtime.

More recently, though, it has encouraged second jobs—even for public servants, who had been prohibited from moonlighting on principle.


‘I probably don’t want to do this every day,’ Mr. Kato said. ‘But it’s nice to be outside.’ Below, the sorting operation.

Officially, the government is encouraging people to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams while keeping the security of a day job. In practice, in rural areas, the policy sometimes means local governments’ pressuring their desk workers to provide manual labor for area businesses.

In the western city of Nara, Mayor Gen Nakagawa recently urged officials “to show another side of yourselves” by picking up a different job on weekends.

Many economists say the only long-term answer to Japan’s demographic woes is immigration. Long reluctant to admit large numbers of foreign workers, Japan has gradually opened its doors wider over the past decade. There were 1.73 million foreign nationals working in the country last year, compared with fewer than 700,000 a decade ago.

Lettuce farmers in Kawakami, a village north of Tokyo, have hired about 1,000 foreign workers from Vietnam and Indonesia each summer in recent years. After labor shortages during the pandemic, the farmers secured enough workers for this year. They are now worried about the impact of the weak yen for next year, says Masato Yui, a Kawakami official in charge of farming policy.


Mr. Kato hauling a load of apples to be sorted by size and quality.
Kawakami hasn’t pushed local officials to work in the fields, Mr. Yui says, “because it does not lead to a fundamental solution.” He said he hopes workers from other countries, such as Cambodia, would come instead.

In the apple-growing city of Hirosaki, some farmers have introduced robots for work such as weeding or sorting fruit, but they are not yet capable of picking apples.

At the apple farm where Mr. Kato helps out, other locals pitch in during harvest in October and November, as well as in the spring, thinning out excess fruit. The average age of the mostly female helpers is over 70, said Keiichi Sato, the 52-year-old fifth-generation owner of the orchard, which ships out 80 tons of apples annually.

Mr. Sato said he appreciates the help of Mr. Kato and another local official. “I really need male hands because there is a lot of work that requires physical strength,” he said, carrying a box of dozens of apples that he, his wife and his elderly parents had sorted.

After his orchard work was cut short by pouring rain one recent Sunday, Mr. Kato said he would stop by a hot spring to relax before getting ready for his office job the next day.

“I probably don’t want to do this every day,” he said. “But it’s nice to be outside.”


‘I really need male hands because there is a lot of work that requires physical strength,’ said fifth-generation orchard owner Keiichi Sato.
Write to Miho Inada at miho.inada@wsj.com


LINK: https://www.wsj.com/articles/a...01?mod=hp_listb_pos1
 
Posts: 14555 | Location: Stuck at home | Registered: January 02, 2015Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Get my pies
outta the oven!

Picture of PASig
posted Hide Post
Japan is in big trouble. They’re quite literally dying out, wonder what the country looks like in 50-100 years?


 
Posts: 31164 | Location: Pennsylvania | Registered: November 12, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Savor the limelight
posted Hide Post
quote:
for $6 to $7 an hour

Pay more and/or let foreign laborers back in. Problem solved.
 
Posts: 8692 | Location: SWFL | Registered: October 10, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
posted Hide Post
^^^^^^^^^
Yeah. I thought the same. I am thinking it might be some cultural thing with the Japanese. They are not stupid, but there has got to be some sort of reason. The folks in Kuwait seem to enjoy exploiting foreign workers to do their dirty work.
 
Posts: 14555 | Location: Stuck at home | Registered: January 02, 2015Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Optimistic Cynic
Picture of architect
posted Hide Post
Japan is far from the only country having to deal with an aging/shrinking population due to low birthrates. Most of Europe is in the same situation, and especially China, the legacy of the one-child policy, and cultural bias favoring male children. Low birthrates lead to fewer taxpayers taking care of more retirees. Some futurists have predicted that the financial costs of providing for a largely non-revenue-contributing aged population will bankrupt many countries and lead to large-scale social collapse, including the fall of governments and widespread starvation. This within the next 20 years.

Expect increased immigration pressure from these countries to the good old USA which has a much better, although far from ideal, demographic profile. Throughout history, people migrate to where they can find opportunity (and not see their children starve to death).

I recall the scary predictions of an over-populated world leading to food shortages, etc. ala Soylent Green. How ironic that it is turning out to be the opposite.

"The End of the World is Just the Beginning" by Peter Zeihan, isbn:9780063230484, gives a well-researched perspective on this phenomenon. I don't buy it 100%, I have confidence that the human race as a whole will figure something out, but it is clear that Zeihan has put a lot more thought into this than me.
 
Posts: 5419 | Location: NoVA | Registered: July 22, 2009Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Step by step walk the thousand mile road
Picture of Sig2340
posted Hide Post
quote:
He is among a dozen city officials who have been dragooned into weekend work…


That writer has a British education (at least in part) or is over 60 years old to use “dragoon” in a sentence. I did that recently and spent 30 minutes explaining to this 30 year old male the origin of the term and why the practice is why We The People have a Constitution, Marines and a Navy (there it is called impressent).





Nice is overrated

"It's every freedom-loving individual's duty to lie to the government."
Airsoftguy, June 29, 2018
 
Posts: 30143 | Location: Loudoun County, Virginia | Registered: May 17, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Partial dichotomy
posted Hide Post
I feel torn about this. Obviously it's a problem NOW and they need relief, but as well know here, foreign immigration can be a problem.

First I'd think they'd offer incentives to have more children.

In the short term, bring in foreign help, short term maybe being longer than they'd like, but necessary. But maybe not offer permanent resident status?




SIGforum: For all your needs!
Imagine our influence if every gun owner in America was an NRA member! Click the box>>>
 
Posts: 36877 | Location: NW Indiana | Registered: November 22, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Get my pies
outta the oven!

Picture of PASig
posted Hide Post
You’d think the Japanese would have robots doing all of this by now.

And it’s interesting to note that the word “robot” came from the Czech word “robota” which IIRC is the word for “slave”.


 
Posts: 31164 | Location: Pennsylvania | Registered: November 12, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Savor the limelight
posted Hide Post
quote:
Originally posted by 6guns:
I feel torn about this. Obviously it's a problem NOW and they need relief, but as well know here, foreign immigration can be a problem.

First I'd think they'd offer incentives to have more children.

In the short term, bring in foreign help, short term maybe being longer than they'd like, but necessary. But maybe not offer permanent resident status?

According to the article, foreign labor was a big part of the agricultural work force before COVID. The article also mentions the Yen is weaker now than pre-COVID so working in Japan is not as attractive to foreign laborers as it was.

I’m not an immigration expert, but I suspect Japan has a fairly tight system of keeping track of migrant workers compared to the United States.
 
Posts: 8692 | Location: SWFL | Registered: October 10, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
posted Hide Post
^^^^^^^^^^^^
That makes sense. I am wondering if cultural purity is an issue. The Japanese looked down on the Koreans and the Chinese at one point. I am speaking of the World War II era.
 
Posts: 14555 | Location: Stuck at home | Registered: January 02, 2015Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
posted Hide Post
Read this r listen to the end of the world as we know it. It talked very specifically about population collapse with aging populations. China is in deep shit and no way out. Peter Zeihan covers it all well
 
Posts: 1562 | Registered: December 04, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
posted Hide Post
There a ton of people in S.E. Asia that would be happy to work in Japan. Philippines, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, etc. All they have to do is let them in. Weakness of the Yen is not really a factor compared to prevailing wages in poorer S.E. Asia.

COVID restrictions that resulted in people back to their home countries is the problem, and as of my trip to Japan in September, getting in is still difficult. Even a U.S. citizen needs a business visa now, along with proof of vaccination, and various other things.

Immigration is the only way out for Japan, and they will have to accept that immigrants will mix with Japanese as a result, nationalism be damned.

China will get around their problem by delaying the retirement age (currently 60/55 male/female) and making them work longer. China can also import poor SE Asians to work in the factories. If it gets too bad, they will euthanize the old. Interesting how COVID is deadly to older people but not younger people, and especially not children. Seems perfect to solve their problem, but it leaked out too early...
 
Posts: 4431 | Location: Indiana | Registered: December 28, 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
posted Hide Post
quote:
Interesting how COVID is deadly to older people but not younger people

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
Interesting?? It has always pretty much been that way with the majority of illnesses. COPD, heart disease and pneumonia are the leading causes of death in the elderly.
 
Posts: 14555 | Location: Stuck at home | Registered: January 02, 2015Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
Picture of konata88
posted Hide Post
Immigration will kill Japan culturally.




"Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." - B.Franklin
"Wrong does not cease to be wrong because the majority share in it." L.Tolstoy
"A government is just a body of people, usually, notably, ungoverned." Shepherd Book
 
Posts: 11418 | Location: In the gilded cage | Registered: December 09, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
posted Hide Post
^^^^^^^^^^^^
Good point.
 
Posts: 14555 | Location: Stuck at home | Registered: January 02, 2015Reply With QuoteReport This Post
I Am The Walrus
posted Hide Post
I seem to recall watching a video about how so many young Japanese can't afford to have children. High cost of living, focusing on careers, etc. have young Japanese not having children.

I'm sure the Japanese do not want to just let anyone in. I would also think the Japanese aren't still too warm with their relations with the Chinese.


_____________

 
Posts: 12365 | Registered: March 12, 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Gracie Allen is my
personal savior!
posted Hide Post
Heck, I've read a couple of articles that suggest that there's a strong bias in Japan against ethnic Japanese who move to Japan from Brazil. Considering the waves of Japanese immigration into everywhere from Hawaii to the southern tip of South America, they have a ready-made pool of potential immigrants to selectively recruit from even if "Japaneseness" is an absolute requirement.

I watched another video online (did I see it here?) made by an American about hunting in Japan. There were certainly restrictions, but he still managed to get the requisite permits and licenses, so it's not impossible. One of his main points, though, is that deer hunting is good in agricultural areas in the west of Japan because there are so few Japanese hunters. The locals, in turn, welcome hunters because there are enough deer to do substantial damage to their crops.

Who knows? Maybe some of the more shrewd bureaucrats in the area will figure out that they can take two weeks off to go hunting, reduce their grocery bill by putting two or three deer in the big freezer every year, and claim they spent the time as agricultural workers.
 
Posts: 26925 | Location: Deep in the heart of the brush country, and closing on that #&*%!?! roadrunner. Really. | Registered: February 05, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Get my pies
outta the oven!

Picture of PASig
posted Hide Post
quote:
Originally posted by konata88:
Immigration will kill Japan culturally.


Isn’t this how the world has operated from the beginning though?

If nothing ever changed, we’d still have the Egyptian Empire, the Roman Empire, the Goths and a whole lot more?

Aren’t the Japanese themselves a descendent of ancient Chinese or other settlers?


 
Posts: 31164 | Location: Pennsylvania | Registered: November 12, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
Picture of konata88
posted Hide Post
Perhaps. However, while the Japanese culture is far from perfect, there are many aspects which I respect and admire. Aspects that can not be superficially appreciated and only is meaningfully apparent after spending considerable time there. Immigration would kill that and I for one would be sad to see it go. I am not Japanese but theirs is dramatically different than Chinese or Korean or other asian cultures. Yes, there is some commonality. But the differences are extremely important. Sadly though, the culture is eroding with the younger generations.




"Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." - B.Franklin
"Wrong does not cease to be wrong because the majority share in it." L.Tolstoy
"A government is just a body of people, usually, notably, ungoverned." Shepherd Book
 
Posts: 11418 | Location: In the gilded cage | Registered: December 09, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Gracie Allen is my
personal savior!
posted Hide Post
quote:
Originally posted by PASig:
Aren’t the Japanese themselves a descendent of ancient Chinese or other settlers?


http://napost.com/2022/three-p...-the-japanese-people
 
Posts: 26925 | Location: Deep in the heart of the brush country, and closing on that #&*%!?! roadrunner. Really. | Registered: February 05, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
  Powered by Social Strata Page 1 2  
 

SIGforum.com    Main Page  Hop To Forum Categories  The Lounge    As Japan Runs Short of Farmworkers, Bureaucrats Get Sent Into the Fields

© SIGforum 2022