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“Accepting Vietnamese Workers with Respect”: Vietnam-Japan International Symposium in Okayama

Publication date:2019-02-28
 
An international symposium to discuss treatment surrounding Vietnamese workers in Japan was held in Okayama, Japan for the first time on 20 February 2019. Amid the increase in the number of Vietnamese nationals working in the nation, over 200 participants including government officials from both countries, local city mayors and business leaders in Okayama, not to mention Vietnamese workers and trainees themselves, exchanged views on the issues that have arisen thus far, and shared their thoughts on what measures can be taken to improve the environment surrounding both foreign employees and Japanese employers.

The conference was held just in time for the amendment of the Japanese migration law which will come into effect in April to allow more foreign nationals to work in Japan.

The symposium was prompted by Dr. Shigeru Suganami, one of the founding members of its organizing committee (Medical Platform for the Global Community), who paid a courtesy visit to His Excellency Mr. Kunio Umeda, the Ambassador of Japan to Vietnam, in Hanoi in June 2018.

Considering the plight of Vietnamese workers and trainees who are often obliged to work under unfavourable conditions, the ambassador inquired Dr. Suganami to secure a pleasant working environment where every one of them can shine. Soja City Mayor Mr. Soichi Kataoka and Mr. Masahiro Kobayashi, the President of IHD (a Kurashiki-based personnel agency that coordinates Vietnamese trainees) were also present at the time. As they felt the need to take a concrete step, this eventually led them to stage a symposium.
 

Part One: Wishes and hopes for the future Vietnam-Japan relationship

 

His Excellency Mr. Vu Hong Nam (Vietnamese Ambassador to Japan)

“Our nation started to develop ties with Japan from one thousand years ago through trading of goods. Not just economy but the two nations are also similar in many respects such as culture and history. The Vietnamese population in Japan has been steadily on the rise each year, and our people trust Japanese people from the bottom of their hearts. Our people are diligent and bright. I truly expect our trainees to bring back the work skills and manners they learned in Japan and make use of the gain for the prosperity of our nation. It is my sincere wish that a family-like relationship would start to take root between two countries.”

 

Part Two: The situations on the receiving end / Promotion of health

 

Dr. Yoneyuki Kobayashi (President, AMDA International Medical Information Centre)

“I have been running my clinic for 29 years and saw 702 Vietnamese patients in total. I personally feel very close to the country and I love Vietnamese people. I firmly believe that our country bears the responsibility to protect the trainees’ health and human rights. Fulfilling such aspects should help two nations nurture an even-closer relationship.”


 

Ms. Dang Thi Minh Tuyet (Ho Chi Minh Branch, NEWTATCO)

“During their time in Japan, our trainees have been keen at attaining work manners and are studying hard to pass the Japanese language proficiency test. All of these are a tremendous experience for them. On one hand, the disparities stemming from cultural differences and different ways of thinking cannot be neglected. I am very much confident that such barriers can be minimized as long as both the Vietnamese and the Japanese try to listen to each other and make efforts toward building a sound relationship.”

 

Ms. Nguyen Thi Loan (Managing Director, IMS)

“My personal impressions on trainees after coming back from Japan have been mostly better than how they were before going. Those who wish to pursue the *advanced training (commonly known as “level 3 training”) account for about 60 percent of all trainees. Their options after completing the program include studying at schools in Japan or working for Japanese firms.  Things they learned in Japan will surely benefit themselves and our society alike.”  

*After the level 1 and level 2 training (three years altogether), training-service providers with excellent performance are entitled to conduct the so-called level 3 training for two more years.
 

Dr. Nguyen Dang Quoc Chan (Head of the School of Medicine and Pharmacy, University of Danang)

“Despite their strong desire to work in Japan (and to study the language), many of our nursing students tend to give up on their wish, because the Japanese language is hard to learn. On the other hand, those who are able to set a clear goal do succeed in the Japanese language proficiency exam.  To help achieve their dream, I wish to continue providing a Japanese language program in our department.”

 

Mr. Masahiro Kobayashi (President, IHD)

“40 percent of all 230,000 foreign trainees in Japan are Vietnamese. Now that our nation has entered an era in which coexistence with non-Japanese nationals has become a norm, it is important to resolve every concern that worries us. Our government and municipalities must establish a social system that makes the trainees want to stay in Japan for a long time. Likewise, Japanese firms need to be prepared emotionally and legally when accepting employees from the overseas.”

 

Dr. Tran Quoc Viet (Vice Head, 175 Military Hospital)

“I would like to express my gratitude to the secretariat for organizing this symposium. We feel it is requisite for those who wish to visit Japan to have a health check-up beforehand and obtain a medical certificate. We also wish to forge ties with our counterpart in Japan to pursue joint medical research and manpower development.”


 

Mr. Kazutoshi Iwamoto (Okayama Saiseikai Hospital)

“Our hospital began international contribution in 1980 when our medical team was dispatched to Thailand to save Cambodian refugees. Ever since, we have sent our staff abroad and accepted medical trainees from different countries. As we have signed a partnership agreement with 175 Hospital, we wish to deepen our mutual relationship while providing medical support to foreign nationals residing in our locality.”

 

Mr. Soichi Kataoka (Mayor of Soja City, Okayama Prefecture)

“My first visit to Vietnam was indeed an awestruck experience. The students I saw at a Japanese language school were attending classes standing (without sitting on a chair) for eight straight hours, just to get used to the “standing job” which is common in Japan. We hope to become a leading municipality in launching measures to increase foreign nationals considering applying for a permanent residency. I am fully determined and prepared to welcome them as my fellow citizens.”


 

Part Three: The efforts made by the accepting end / Voices of trainees

 

Mr. Minoru Kondo (appearing on behalf of Mr. Ken Tatsumi, Director of Taiyoh Bijutsu Shikoh, Inc)

“The past year and a half was filled with a lot of astonishment ever since our trainees arrived from Vietnam. However, it was also inspiring for us in a way in which they challenged our conventional Japanese sense of values. The language barrier was the biggest hurdle to overcome, but each one of the trainees were high-spirited. Getting to know each one of them is the way to foster trust. The benefit of accepting the trainees, I must say, was far greater than the challenges we faced.”

 

Ms. Phan Thi Thanh Phuong (1st year trainee, Taiyoh Bijutsu Shikoh, Inc)

“I came to Japan to support my family back home financially and to learn Japanese. People at my company are very kind and are always willing to help me on my work. When I told them that I wanted to learn Japanese, they even got me a textbook. I was deeply moved. My dream is to become an interpreter, so that I can bridge both Japan and my country to foster friendship.”


 

Mr. Hiroyuki Sato (Executive Director, Taiyoh Bijutsu Shikoh, Inc)

“When I ask my Japanese staff what they make of our Vietnamese trainees, they would tell me the trainees are very bright, talkative, have good smiles and focus on their work with a clear aim. All of these characters have a positive influence on our Japanese employees. Working in a country with a different language and culture for three years isn’t an easy task. It is my ardent wish that they make most of what they learned in Japan back home.”

 

Ms. Nguyen Thi Thuy Hoa (1st year trainee, Taiyoh Bijutsu Shikoh, Inc)

“When I discovered this training program, I decided to change my life. Colleagues at my company have been helping me a lot, and we have built a good relationship. If there is anything I need to understand, they are keen to offer help. In the future, I want to become an interpreter and live in Japan.”



 
    •  Japan
    •  Vietnam
    •  2019
    •  Conference / Seminar

 
 
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