Vietnamese workers in Japan paid VNĐ200 million in unnecessary fees

April 06, 2023 - 08:24
The fee that a Vietnamese worker has to pay to intermediaries such as labour export agencies are among the highest, at around VNĐ200 million (US$8,525).


Scenes at the panel discussion at the "Forum for developing Human Resources, Việt Nam - Japan 2023" organised in Hà Nội on Tuesday. — Photo courtesy of JICA

HÀ NỘI — Around 460,000 Vietnamese workers are in Japan, making them the largest community of foreign workers in the Land of the Rising Sun.

However, the fee that a Vietnamese worker has to pay to intermediaries such as labour export agencies are among the highest, at around VNĐ200 million (US$8,525).

This is inappropriate in the context of international regulations, which push for zero intermediary fees.

This information was disclosed at the "Forum for developing Human Resources, Việt Nam - Japan 2023", organised in Hà Nội on Wednesday.

The theme of this year's forum is "Optimisation of human resource transfers and targetting international recruitment standards".

According to Shishido Kenichi, Special Counsel to the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the number of Vietnamese workers in Japan is rising rapidly, averaging 100,000 workers annually.

The Vietnamese community is also becoming Japan's second most populous foreign community, partly due to the transfer of workers.

Vietnamese workers in Japan are regarded as hard-working people and have contributed positively to the socio-economic development of Japan, according to Kenichi. The special counsel also said that 70 per cent of Vietnamese workers are happy with their current work and are willing to continue their careers in Japan.

However, the primary obstacle for Vietnamese workers in chasing their dream career in Japan is the high unregulated commission fees paid to intermediaries such as labour export agencies.

"On December 2022, Japanese authorities started a discussion on new protocols to ensure foreign workers can come to Japan without any fee and be able to focus on their work and stay for a long time," said Kenichi.

Vietnamese workers in Japan currently bring US$3 billion in remittances to Việt Nam, according to data from the International Labour Organisation disclosed by their Director in Việt Nam, Ingrid Christensen.

However, the fee paid to intermediaries is among the highest in countries where intermediary fees are still available, according to Christensen.

"This instance does not correlate with international regulations, which state that workers working abroad should not pay any fee," said Christensen. "Vietnamese workers are currently paying seven months or a year's salary worth of fee to pay off their debt to the intermediaries. Some even fall into the hands of human traffickers or labour exploitations."

Christensen suggested Việt Nam and Japan work to eliminate fees relating to labour cooperation. Earlier, Japan ratified Convention No.181 of the ILO, which states that member countries do not collect any intermediary fees or direct fees from foreign workers.

Việt Nam is also working hard to amend the regulations, especially through the new Law on Vietnamese abroad workers, passed in 2020.

More efforts are needed to eradicate recruitment fees and encourage the roles of workers' unions to ensure the rights and fairness of workers following international standards.

Japan is currently home to 462,384 Vietnamese workers, more than a quarter of the total number of foreign workers in the country, according to Japan's Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare's latest data in January. — VNS.