Vietnam Time

3/7/2018 2:51:14 PM

Vietnamese community in Japan rises sharply in number

VNF - Vietnamese community in Japan has increased quadrupled compared with five years ago, about to overtake the Philippines to win the third place.

In the last half-decade, great changes have taken place in the demographic picture of the expat community in Japan.

"The number of Vietnamese people in Japan is rising sharply," Japan Times quoted a four-page article published on Playboy Weekly by the end of 2017. The number of Vietnamese people in the sunrise country has quadrupled from five years ago, and increased significantly by 36.1 percent from 2015 to 2016.

Dang Nguyen Thuc Vien, the daughter of a Vietnamese immigrant, works as an interpreter at a hospital in Kanagawa Prefecture. Photo: Reuters.

As of June 2017, the number of Vietnamese in Japan is 232,562, surpassing Brazil to become the fourth largest community in Japan, and is expected to quickly surpass the Philippines' 251,934 community to take third place.

Matsudo, a small city with 484,000 inhabitants in Chiba prefecture, is the home of 15,058 foreigners, in which the Vietnamese community is thriving.

"Matsudo has a lot of Japanese language schools," said a chef at a Vietnamese restaurant here. "The number of Vietnamese people here is rising, but they are not so much prominent, perhaps because of the few people doing business."

Last year, Hiroshima ranked fourth nationally in terms of the number of Vietnamese trainees. Duan, a 32-year-old housewife from Hanoi, said she came to Japan four years ago to learn Japanese, then got acquainted with her husband who is 18 years older than her when she was working at a restaurant.

One negative aspect of immigration is that the Vietnamese have become the minority with the highest crime rates. According to statistics, in 2015, the Vietnamese have more than 2,500 criminal cases, surpassing 2,300 cases of China - the largest expat community in Japan.

A police interpreter at Chubu said nearly half of Vietnamese trainees and students could not afford to go to school and had to quit the program, many of whom became criminals.

However, according to an article on the Wall Street Journal in October 2017, in addition to the few negative side effects, the foreign workforce is benefiting many local businesses.

Without their help, "we might have closed many restaurants," said Yoshiteru Fukui, RDC's recruiting manager.

A foreign worker in Gatten Sushi Restaurant. Photo: WSJ

The minimum wage in Japan is too low to attract many indigenous workers, but still much higher than many other Asian countries. By 2015, the minimum wage in Japan is 21 times higher than in Vietnam, 12 times in Nepal, and three times that in China, according to data from Dai-Ichi Research Institute.

At many of RDC's restaurants, Vietnamese workers wear masks and gloves, folding fish onto small pieces of rice cooked by robots. They help in many ways: sometimes they serve foreign tourists in their mother tongue, and Fukui hopes they will continue to work with the company even if they return to Vietnam to help expand the market.

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