70.5% of Fukushima firms cite labor shortage as reason for hiring foreign workers

1 November 2019

A vast majority -- 70.5% -- of companies in Fukushima Prefecture cited “response to the labor shortage” as a reason for employing foreign workers, the prefectural government said Oct. 31 in a report on its first survey on such hiring. The results made clear that various industries have turned to non-Japanese workers to secure manpower.

The survey was conducted to identify support measures for foreign residents in Fukushima matching their realities and help expand opportunities for them to find jobs in the wake of their growing numbers and enforcement of the revised Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act, among other factors. A questionnaire was mailed to 2,635 companies in the prefecture in May, of which 1,360, or 51.6% responded.

Among reasons for employing foreigners other than the labor shortage, the second largest proportion -- 17.6% -- cited the need to “secure human resources having specialist knowledge, technical expertise and the like.”

Regarding challenging issues for employment of foreign workers, the biggest proportion -- 34.8% -- chose “difficulty with communication,” followed by 29.1% who selected “greater costs than expected.”

Nearly half the respondents -- 49.9% -- singled out “support for education for acquiring Japanese-language skills and the like” as what they expect of the government concerning employment, showing many businesses see language difficulties as a major problem. This was followed by “provision of information on relevant systems,” cited by 39.3%, and “establishment of a consultation window for corporate employers,” chosen by 39.1%.

An official of the prefecture’s department in charge of employment and labor affairs said, “We would like to analyze the survey outcome and discuss specific means of supporting employment of foreign people, and seek to resolve problems in partnership with the national government and related authorities.”

(Translated by Kyodo News)