The number of international workers (including international students and technical interns) has increased due to a shortage in the labour force, but at least 480 international students and trainees across Kyushu’s seven prefectures went missing from their schools and workplaces in 2015. By the end of November 2016 more than 450 people had disappeared, with the number of missing Nepalese and Vietnamese people on the rise. It seems that in many cases individuals leave their Japanese schools and flee due to a lack of funds, low wages, troubles with personal relationships, or are in the process of applying asylum. Countermeasures to combat these problems are now seen as urgent.
According to the Fukuoka Immigration Bureau, among the international national people residing in Kyushu’s seven prefectures (as of December 2015), there are 24,464 international students and 17,897 trainees.
Prefectural police have revealed that the number of missing foreign students and interns in Kyushu from January to November 2016 is 459 people and breaks down across the seven prefectures as follows: 160 in Fukuoka, 29 in Saga, 42 in Nagasaki, 90 in Kumamoto, 49 in Oita, 30 in Miyazaki, and 59 in Kagoshima. In terms of nationality, around 200 of these individuals are originally from Vietnam, around 150 are from China and about 50 are from Nepal. There are also missing nationals from countries such as Myanmar, Cambodia, Indonesia, Philippines, and Thailand.
According to the Fukuoka Immigration Bureau, there are no official statistics on the number of international students who have disappeared, but the number of trainees or interns in Kyushu has risen from 41 in 2010 to 409 in 2015, a 10-fold increase across a five-year period. The government has stated that analysis has yet to be conducted into why the number of missing people has been increasing.
New Era of Immigration in Kyushu
The number of workers from abroad, including international students and technical interns in Japan, exceeded one million for the first time last year. This group of people form an indispensable component of the workforce, irrespective of the government’s position on immigration. Read more installments from this series here.