In many ways, Yogendra Puranik is an immigrant success story. Puranik, 45, joined the initial wave of Indian tech workers to go to Japan in the early 2000s. He became a Japanese citizen and in 2019 won an elected office in Tokyo, the first for anyone. from India. This year, he was hired as the principal of a public school.
Yet now, as Japanese companies scramble to attract more educated Indians to fill a shortage of computer engineers, Puranik is under no illusions about the challenges Japan and those it attracts will face.
Recruiters call it a crucial test of Japan’s ability to compete with the US and Europe for increasingly sought-after global talent. But lower wages and steep cultural barriers make it less attractive to many. Rigid corporate structures can frustrate newcomers. And Japan, long ambivalent about foreigners, lacks an established system for integrating them into Japanese life.
“These foreigners come and there is no communication between the Japanese and the foreigners,” Puranik said at his home in an Indian neighborhood in Tokyo. “Inclusion is not happening.”
As it ages rapidly, Japan desperately needs more workers to power the world’s third-largest economy and fill the gaps in everything from agriculture and factory work to nursing. He has eased strict limits on immigration in the hope of attracting hundreds of thousands of foreign workers. The need is perhaps greater in the technology sector, where the Government estimates that the shortage of workers will reach almost 800,000 in the coming years as the country undertakes a national digitization effort.
By shifting work, education and other aspects of daily life to online platforms, the pandemic has magnified the shortcomings of a country once seen as a leader in high technology. The analyzes show that the use of cloud technologies by Japanese companies is almost a decade behind that of the US.
India produces 1.5 million engineering graduates every year. Many who choose to go to Japan speak admiringly of the cleanliness and safety, saying that their salaries allow them to live comfortably, if not luxuriously. Those who have studied the language and culture can be effusive in their praise.
Shailesh Date, 50, who first came to Japan in 1996 and is now chief technology officer at American financial services firm Franklin Templeton Japan in Tokyo, said: “It’s the most beautiful country to live in.”
However, many of the 36,000 Indians in Japan are concentrated in the Edogawa section of Tokyo, where they have their own restaurants, places of worship and grocery stores. It has two leading Indian schools where children study in English and follow Indian standards.
Most Indian IT workers arrive in Japan without much knowledge of the language or culture, said Megha Wadhwa, a migration researcher and expert in Japanese and South Asian studies at the Free University in Berlin. That can hamper their careers while their peers are making big strides at home or in the United States or Europe. They often end up moving to another place.
Even so, Japanese companies have taken steps to recruit Indian graduates, bringing them to Japan or employing them in India. Rakuten and Mercari, both e-commerce firms, have established operations in India.
There are efforts to close the gaps in Edogawa. Puranik operates a cultural center in his home where Japanese students take yoga classes, and Indian and Japanese students learn to play the Indian tabla from a Japanese percussion teacher.
Japanese officials also provide venues and assistance for Indian cultural festivals. Puranik said those gestures were kind, but it was more important to provide more Japanese language training and cultural instruction.
“There has to be more interaction,” he said.
By: JOSEPH COLEMAN
BBC-NEWS-SRC: http://www.nytsyn.com/subscribed/stories/6509159, IMPORTING DATE: 2022-12-27 21:30:08
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