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Japan has recently opened its doors to welcome them in order to reduce the labour shortage in the domestic market. Peltokorpi and Froese (2009) indicated that Japan has a…
Japan has recently opened its doors to welcome them in order to reduce the labour shortage in the domestic market. Peltokorpi and Froese (2009) indicated that Japan has a challenging workplace and system for foreigners. It is clear that Japanese firms have not really been ready to take on self-initiated expatriates in spite of their rapid acceptance of them. This research, therefore aims to explore how international labourers have worked in Japan and how well they have really been fitted into the unique Japanese work environment, especially its HR system.
This research examined the issues from the both angle of Japanese firms and from the point of view of international labour through interview-based qualitative research method. The author analysed both data gained from 16 Japanese staff members including human resource management staff members of leading Japanese firms and 40 international workers. The data were analysed through ethnographical investigations of the current situation between Japanese firms and international labour. There has still been a lack of studies using interview-based qualitative method as introduced under the literature reviews.
Although the issues occurring in the UK and US as regards pay and discrimination from local workers (e.g. Baruch et al., 2013) seem not to be shared by international workers in Japanese firms, other unique issues have arisen under the traditional HR system. There is a gap between Japanese firms' expectations and international labour' expectations; the former expects the latter to stay for the long term, while the latter prefers variety of job experiences in order to quickly develop skills. Under the traditional Japanese HR system, both sides seem to suffer if they work together for long.
The relationship between international labour in Japan and Japanese firms has been examined. Such both angles brought about expectation gap between both sides as mentioned above. While Japanese staff members have enjoyed the benefits of the secure HR system (Dore, 2000), self-initiated expatriates do not necessarily need these benefits.