Job-Juggling in Japan: A Risky Stunt with No Safety Net

Mid-April 2009. Tokyo.

Teaching English part-time at Berlitz Japan. Teaching English writing part-time at NHK Bilingual Center. Translating freelance for NHK. Translating part-time at the Agency for Cultural Affairs. Executive president of Berlitz General Union Tokyo (Begunto). Working part-time as a union organizer at the National Union of General Workers. Covering for a hospitalized full-time organizer at the same union. Working as an intern at Solidarity Network with Migrants Japan (Ijuren) in the hope of getting hired there.

The above is a list of jobs, both paid and unpaid, that my activist friend Catherine Campbell worked simultaneously back in mid-April 2009. How could she possibly have held down so many jobs without collapsing under the pressure?

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Osaka’s General Union lands major court victory on Shakai Hoken

GU court victory against gov’t over insurance to have major impact

On 20 March at 13:25, the Tokyo District Court ruled on the case of a General Union member who sued the Japanese government in an important test case regarding eligibility for enrollment in the Employees Health and Pension Insurance (shakai hoken).
Read more at the GU website here.

Welfare ministry to bring charges against businesses dodging employee pension plan

The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry has decided to bring charges against business owners who refuse to join the employee pension program and pay insurance premiums — a violation of the Employees’ Pension Insurance Act.
Starting from the current fiscal year, the ministry will file a complaint with police against businesses dodging the mandatory pension program and release their names, ministry officials say.
The ministry will set specific standards, such as the number of times business proprietors reject requests for on-the-spot inspections to confirm pertinent data about joining the pension program, before moving to bring charges against violators.

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Shakai Hoken Seminar

Do you know your rights when it comes to Shakai Hoken?

Chances are that management has mislead you about your legal rights to proper insurance and pension.

Find out everything you wanted to know about unemployment, health, workplace accident, nursing care and pension insurance from experts, Social Labor Consultant Takeo Eitani and Tozen Paralegal Hifumi
Okunuki.

Sunday, March 4 at 2pm, at our office.

Free Admission

Directions:

Zenkoku Ippan Tokyo General Union
Kokubo Building 3B, Yamabukicho 294, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 162-0801

Google Map Link | Mapion Map Link

全国一般東京ゼネラルユニオン
〒162-0801 東京都新宿区山吹町294小久保ビル3B

FAX: 050-3488-6734

Google 地図リンク | Mapion 地図リンク

Nonregulars at record 35.2% of workforce

The ratio of nonregular workers in the labor force in 2011 hit a record average high of 35.2 percent, excluding [Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima] the three prefectures severely affected by the March quake and tsunami, up 0.8 point from 2010, according to data compiled by the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry.

The average for the year hit a record for the second straight year, the ministry said Monday.

The rise appears to have stemmed from the growing tendency of firms to hire fewer young people as regular workers and rehire veteran workers on a contract basis after their retirement.

By age bracket, the ratio of nonregular workers came to a record 32.6 percent among people aged between 15 and 34, while that among workers aged 55 and over was 51.5 percent, also an all-time high, the ministry said.

Nonregular workers aged between 15 and 34 numbered 1.7 million, up 20,000, it said.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/nb20120222a3.html

Calm at J. Village belies the danger

Crisis worker woes, shortage another story

Tokyo Electric Power Co. on Friday for the first time let reporters into the base camp for thousands of workers striving every day to fix the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, showing off new dining facilities, a dormitory for single workers and the latest radioactivity monitors to check vehicles and clothing.

What wasn’t readily apparent, however, is the number of temporary dispatch workers without job or health insurance, and who face the ax once their radiation exposure tops out, according to a municipal assembly member from a nearby city.

But despite significant improvements in services and facilities at J. Village [a former soccer training complex now being used by Tepco], serious problems have remained for workers at Fukushima No. 1, insiders say.

Hiroyuki Watanabe, a member of the Iwaki Municipal Assembly, has interviewed about 20 nuclear plant workers and some have told him conditions were extremely bad. Some even claimed they only had a verbal contract for the job.

Many were sent by subcontractor dispatch companies that do not provide job or health insurance, which is illegal, Watanabe said.

The workers are often abandoned by personnel companies once their cumulative radiation exposure exceeds the legal limits, Watanabe said.

“For example, one worker kept working at the Fukushima No. 1 plant for more than 10 years. Even after the accident, he kept working and he was fired after his dose exceeded 40 millisieverts,” Watanabe said. “He had once falsified his exposure records so he would not lose his job.”

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/nn20111112a3.html

Over 10,000 construction workers and family thought to be without health insurance

Over 10,000 people who joined a public health insurance program for self-employed construction workers even though they were not qualified to are thought to be without health insurance now, it has been learned.

The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry found in its investigation in June 2010 that 12,252 policyholders of Zenkoku Kensetsu Kojigyo Kokumin Kenko Hoken Kumiai (Kojigyo Kokuho), a health insurance association for self-employed construction workers, were not actually qualified to join the program.

In many cases, employees of construction firms joined it by posing as self-employed construction workers or construction company owners had joined it by falsely describing themselves as self-employed individuals.

In September last year, the ministry instructed Kojigyo Kokuho to transfer 9,272 of the unqualified policyholders to the Japan Health Insurance Association for employees of small and medium-sized companies or other health insurance programs.

Of the policyholders, 3,970 completed the procedures for shifting to the Japan Health Insurance Association program. Another 1,800 individuals have shifted or are set to shift to public health insurance programs for self-employed people including farmers, forestry workers and fishermen.

However, about 6,500 others failed to shift to the Japan Health Insurance Association program by the June 2011 deadline. Since their old health insurance card expired in June this year, they and their family members, totaling more than 10,000 people, are highly likely to be covered by no health insurance program now.

Companies as well as individuals who employ at least five people are legally required to join public social insurance programs and split premiums for health insurance and employees’ pension programs evenly with their employees.

However, many construction firms joined Kojigyo Kokuho after being falsely told by association officials that companies were also qualified to join it. Moreover, other companies had their employees join the association by posing as self-employed construction workers, thereby evading paying premiums for their employees’ pension program.

http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/news/20111104p2a00m0na007000c.html

Shakai Hoken Seminar

Do you know your rights when it comes to Shakai Hoken?

Learn how the Japanese social insurance system of public health and pension works starting from the laws, the directives and the differences between Kenko Hoken and Kokumin Kenko Hoken. Chances are that management has mislead you about your legal rights to proper insurance and pension.

Sunday, July 31, 2:00pm to 5:00pm

Osaka Keizai Hohka Daigaku Tokyo Azabudai Seminar House

Free Admission

[Osaka Keizai Hohka University Tokyo Azabudai Seminar House]

Directions: Take the Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line to Kamiyacho, take Exit 1, and walk up the left side of Sakura Dori to Osaka Keizai University Tokyo Azabudai Seminar House (5 minutes).

Psychiatrists aid traumatized foreigners

A group of psychiatrists who have been providing mental health support for foreign residents has set up an emergency committee to aid non-Japanese suffering from stress and trauma from the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

“Those who are suffering the most are the elderly, children, the handicapped and foreigners. And foreigners are particularly prone to become isolated, suffer from a lack of information in their mother tongue, easily become confused by false rumors and suffer from growing anxiety,” said Fumitaka Noda, president of the Japanese Society of Transcultural Psychiatry and professor of psychiatry at Taisho University in Tokyo.

“It’s really important to provide them with accurate information, and then to listen and understand their anxiety,” said Noda, who has been providing mental health care services to foreigners in Japan for 18 years, especially to refugees.

Comprised of psychiatrists and other mental health professionals, the transcultural psychiatry society established the Transcultural Mental Health Emergency committee March 19 to help foreigners directly affected by 3/11.

As the only medical society in Japan that focuses on studies of foreigners who have mental health issues due to transcultural problems, the society is working closely with groups that support foreigners, including the Japan Foundation, to continue gathering information on people in need of professional help. It is also planning to teach supporters basic knowledge of mental health, so that when they spot signs of depression or posttraumatic stress disorder they can contact Noda and his colleagues.

Mental health care has become more important as people recover from the initial shock of the disaster and gradually start to get a clear picture of what happened and what situation they are in, Noda explained.

“As people start to look around, they begin to feel more clearly the sense of loss, and anxiety over the future. . . . Some may develop PTSD,” Noda said. “Many suffer from numbness. Because they lost everything they had and they begin to wonder about the meaning of making an effort, making a commitment or loving someone.”

If such cases continue over a long period, then people need to seek professional help, Noda said.

“In this kind of situation, a foreigner’s stress can be more than that of Japanese. We have to spend twice the time we do for Japanese to treat foreigners. We need to listen to their voices wholeheartedly,” Noda said, adding he and his team are ready for action, to help foreigners with mental problems.

“I want people to know there are services available to them. Many may hesitate to ask for mental support, but please, be open about it and contact us,” Noda said.

E-mail Transcultural_mental_health@yahoo.co.jp or call Fumitaka Noda at (080) 5196-8325 or fax (03) 5225-1292.

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20110430f1.html