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Labor Bureau now tracking foreigners in Okinawa

Date Posted: 2008-09-26

The Okinawa Labor Standards Bureau now knows there are at least 8,429 foreigners registered in Okinawa, but admits the figure is low because companies with fewer than 30 employees are not required to pass information to the government.

“Okinawa employers mostly have fewer than 30 employees, so they don’t register the companies’ workers,” says the Okinawa Labor Standards Bureau. “In other cases, they don’t know the labor laws, and don’t even report information about Okinawan employees.” The Labor Bureau began requiring the information in October 2007.

Government figures do not include U.S. military personnel, the bureau says. The law is designed to track how many companies are employing foreigners. Currently, the bureau notes, there are 1,391 companies with 30 or more workers in Okinawa, and the companies all have insurance for those workers. Only 207 of the registered companies employ foreigners, 14.9% of their work forces. Most employers are in central Okinawa, where 21.4% of the workers are foreigners.

Much remains to be done for businesses and individuals to comply with the law, the Labor Bureau says. Only 635 of the foreign workers have reported to the Prefecture Public Employment to register, compared to the 8,429 registered as being in the country legally. That, the bureau says, indicates only 7.5% of those foreigners are working, and that’s not correct. Nationwide, the figure is 20.6% of the work force is comprised of foreigners.

On Okinawa, China accounts for 25% of foreign workers, followed by Americans with 23.1% and Filipinas at 14.6%. The Okinawa Labor Standards Bureau is now trying to get the word to all companies and all foreigners they must register. The requirement, the bureau says, extends to part time workers, overseas students working in Okinawa, and to contracted foreign workers.

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