Hard times for foreign workers

[The] bad economy is hitting the country’s foreign workers particularly hard, with nongovernmental organization volunteers warning that many who have been laid off face not only losing their homes and access to education in their mother tongue, but also that emergency food rations are now being distributed to the most desperate cases.

“Of the nearly 300 people who attend my church, between 30 and 40 of them have already lost their jobs, and I expect more will soon be laid off as companies choose not to renew their contracts. Many of those who have lost their jobs have no place to live or get through the winter,” said Laelso Santos, pastor at a church in Karia, Aichi Prefecture, and the head of Maos Amigas, an NGO assisting foreign workers and their families.

“Of course, Japanese workers who get laid off are suffering as well. But unlike foreign workers, most Japanese have friends and relatives they can turn to for immediate financial help, at least enough to ensure they have enough to eat,” Santos said. “(The foreign workers) desperately need financial help for their daily lives now, not for things like language assistance.”