This Week in Japan
Friday, April 5, 2019
The latest headlines in Japan for the week of April 1, 2019
Reiwa Announced as Name of New Imperial Era
On April 1 st the country waited with bated breath as the name of the new Imperial Era was announced. The era of 令和 - Reiwa will begin on May 1 when the Crown Prince Naruhito ascends to the throne. The Japanese government officially translates Reiwa to mean "beautiful harmony" but controversy is brewing as to whether the the "Rei" 令 of Reiwa should actually be interpreted by its more commonly known meaning of "command" rather than its lesser known meaning of "beautiful."
Reiwa was selected out of the Manyoshu, the oldest known anthology of Japanese poetry which is causing a frenzy as publishers rush to bring the old text back into print. Companies and hotels are also rushing to capitalise on the naming of the new era by quickly buying up domains and making Reiwa souvenirs that include everything from coke bottles to t-shirts to kamaboko (fish cakes).
To read more about Reiwa here are some useful articles:
New Visa System for Foreign Workers Launched
Hundreds of thousands of foreign talent is expected to flood into Japan under the new employment visa system launched on April 1st. A new immigration agency was set up to oversee the new visa processes and to help the people settle into their new lives in Japan.
The new visa system opened up a new category of visa called "Specific Skilled Worker 1" which allows skilled workers with a certain level of Japanese proficiency to apply for jobs in 14 different sectors including construction, agriculture and nursing care under a visa of up to five years.
Although the new system is fully operational, there are still many doubts as to whether Japan is ready to handle such a large influx of foreigners for the first time in their history.
To read more about the new system here are some useful articles:
New Law Attempts to Tackle Over Work
The new labor law targets big corporations and their culture of over work. It officially limits the number of overtime hours to 45 hours a month or 360 hours per year and violators will be fined ¥300,000. However, it does allow for an extension of up to 100 hours of overtime per month or 720 overtime hours in one year during busy periods but can only continue for a maximum span of 6 months.
The government will attempt to expand this law to include middle and small sized companies as well by next year.
However, exempted from the law are skilled professionals with high wages like lawyers and bankers.
Critics are skeptical about if the law will do anything to help the problem of over work in Japan, in 2017, 190 people died of over work in Japan.
Carlos Ghosn Arrested for the 4th Time
The former chairman of Nissan was arrested again for aggravated breach of trust even though he is out on bail. Prosecutors claim that Ghosn funnelled Nissan funds to a bogus dealership in Oman and the funds were partially used to buy his personal yacht and sent to an investment fund in the United States that is operated by his son.
It is unusual for the authorities to re-arrest someone who has been released on bail, and at a press conferences his lawyers protested the re-arrest saying that "Ghosn was released on bail because the prosecutors already determined that he wouldn't flee or destroy evidence, and it is highly unprecedented for a defendant to be rearrested unless is it is for a separate case"
Ghosn continues to maintain his innocence regarding the charges, and some believe the rearrest was related to the fact that he had set up a press conferences to tell his version of the story.
To read more about the new labor law here are some useful articles: