Revised ordinance bars gangs from sponsoring foreign entertainers

An amended government ordinance entered force Thursday, banning companies linked to organized crime syndicates from sponsoring foreign singers and dancers entering Japan on entertainment visas.

The updated Justice Ministry ordinance is aimed at tackling human trafficking as foreign women who have entered Japan as entertainers have often been forced to work for low wages as hostesses in bars or nightclubs or to engage in prostitution.

Japan set to accept more skilled foreign professionals

Japan is set to accept more foreign professionals by introducing more flexible immigration policies, the government said Thursday in line with a set of policy targets adopted by a government panel and aimed at securing leadership in international society.

In an attempt to attract more human resources with highly advanced knowledge and techniques from abroad, the government will extend the legal limit on the length of stay for them to five years from the current three years on a nationwide basis, the Cabinet Office said.

U.N. rapporteur raps Japan’s law on fingerprinting foreigners

A special U.N. rapporteur on racism on Thursday criticized Japan’s new immigration legislation on fingerprinting and photographing all foreign visitors as a process of treating foreigners like criminals.

Doudou Diene, on his last day of a six-day visit to Japan to conduct a follow-up of his report on racism, said at a press conference in Tokyo the immigration bill that just passed the Diet on Wednesday “illustrates something I have been denouncing in my reports for four years. It is the fact that, especially since Sept 11, there has been a process of criminalization of foreigners” all over the world, he added.

Diet passes bill to take foreigners’ prints, pics

Despite strong criticism from the Japan Federation of Bar Associations and human rights organizations, the bill cleared the House of Councilors with a majority vote by the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito.

With the revision of the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Law, an estimated 6 million to 7 million foreigners entering Japan every year will be obliged to have their fingerprints and photographs taken, along with other personal identification information.

Nova projects net loss as rapid expansion backfires

Nova Corp said Friday it expects its group net balance to have fallen into the red in the business year through last March with a loss of 3 billion yen as a result of competition for student enrollment among its own schools. The major English conversation school operator had projected a 200 million yen profit for fiscal 2005. The projected net loss compares with the 204 million yen profit for fiscal 2004.

Nova rapidly increased the number of its schools by around 300 to 994 between October 2004 and March this year. The expansion has caused the company to employ inexperienced managers and suffer from competition among its own schools located close to each other.

Toyota lawsuit a reminder that changes in Japan are coming too slowly

Lawyers have said that over the past decade, firms in Japan have improved their policies against sexual harassment due to changes in the law and an increased awareness of their corporate social responsibility.

However, they said companies are not doing enough to educate their male employees that their behavior victimizes women and has serious consequences, including severe emotional damage.

Some firms are simply trying to protect their images and not dealing with discrimination, the lawyers charged.

Universal access — if you speak Japanese

Despite 2 million foreign residents and calls for internationalization from within, Japan has a long way to go before becoming a multilingual society. The current state of health care is no exception. Be it university hospitals with cutting-edge research facilities or your neighborhood dental clinic, few medical institutions in Japan are capable of serving patients in a foreign language.

The gap between Japanese doctors and foreign patients can have serious repercussions. According to a 2005 report on maternity care for foreigners written by Dr. Hiroya Matsuo, professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Kobe University, foreigners are “a high-risk group in health care,” due to language and culture problems. The report stated that the mortality rate among foreign pregnant women and infants here is “two or three times higher” than that of Japanese.

Japan rethinks immigration policy

“Whether we like it or not, there are many foreigners who want to come to Japan. We must think about how we can accept those who want to work or settle in Japanese society, without friction,” Koizumi told members of the Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy, according to the publicized minutes.

“If we accept foreigners beyond a certain scale…there must be friction. In that case, social costs would be tremendous,” Koizumi continued. “We must think how to improve the environment and education system in order to let foreigners work comfortably as a steady labor power.”