Vietnamese interns in Japan offered lifeline

Vietnamese nationals living in Japan who lost their jobs due to the coronavirus pandemic have been given a chance to find new employment.

Dozens took part in the online seminar organized by the Japan International Cooperation Agency, JICA. A lawyer explained to them the procedure for changing their visas to be able to work in different jobs.

There are hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese in Japan who have visas as technical interns. But the worsening pandemic has seen many put out of work.

The Japanese government is now allowing the laid off trainees to change their resident status as a special measure. But a language barrier and other factors have hindered their job search.

A 25-year-old construction worker in Ibaraki Prefecture, north-east of Tokyo, lost his job in November. As he was living in a company dormitory, he was forced to find new lodgings with the help of a support group.

He says he is disappointed that he has not been able to pay back the money he owes to his parents who paid for him to come to Japan.

The pandemic has also brought a halt to all incoming trainees which is being felt in the building cleaning and nursing care industries.

The president of a cleaning company says that the seminar can serve as an important step in finding new employees. Tomita Minoru says if they can hire people who will become the future work force, it will improve Japan's employment environment and the work environment at his company as well.

JICA officials say they will continue to provide information to both Vietnamese residents and Japanese employers in the hopes of arranging suitable matches.