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October 2002, Volume 9, Number 10

Japan, Korea

Japan had 184,000 permanent resident status holders in 2001, double the number in 1997; there are an additional 500,000 special permanent status holders, mostly Koreans brought to Japan in colonial times and their descendants.

A group of Tokyo lawyers urged the Japanese government to allow 23 Afghan asylum seekers to remain in the country. About half of the Afghans have attempted suicide during their detention, and two committed suicide in May and August 2002. Most of the 23 are being held at the East Japan Immigration Center in the Ibara Prefecture and have been granted conditional release. The asylum seeker must report once a month to immigration officials and is not allowed to work or leave the prefecture without permission.

In Japan, it was reported that 18.5 percent of the 127.5 million residents were 65 or older in 2002, some 23.6 million elderly.

Entertainers. Japan may expel 36,000 Filipinos who work as entertainers. The Philippines sends an average of 70,000 entertainers to Asian countries each year, and 95 percent head for Japan. Many of the Filipinos are illegally in Japan.

Korea issued 4,700 E-6 art and entertainment visas to foreign women as of June 2002, including 4,200 for nightclub jobs. The largest source country was Russia, 1,800, followed by the Philippines, 1,500. The number of E-6 visas has increased rapidly, from 2,522 in 1999 to 4,317 in 2000 and 5,894 in 2001; some NGOs believe that many of the women are victims of traffickers.

Korea. Korea has mostly trainees, not foreign workers. Trainees do not earn the minimum wage, and many run away from the employer to whom they are assigned, because they can earn more as illegal workers. The government announced in July 2002 that it would raise the quota of foreign industrial trainees from the current 79,000 to 129,000.

The Korea Federation of Small Business (KFSB) runs the trainee program, and has resisted calls to have a guest worker program on the grounds that guest workers would increase employer costs. The KFSB made 56 billion from the trainee program between 1996 and 2001; half was from the 286,000 won per foreign industrial trainee paid by "training agencies."

Since December 2001, foreign workers must work only one year as trainees, and then can work another two years as regular workers. Ethnic Koreans will be able to enter Korea and work legally with F-1 visas for two years starting November 2002; ethnic Koreans in China are expected to benefit..

"Group to seek residency for Afghans," Daily Yomiuri, September 12, 2002.