Some 2,400 foreign trainees and workers unable to come to Japan due to COVID-19 outbreak: farm minister

TOKYO, Apr. 29 – Some 2,400 foreign trainees and workers who were expected to work in the agriculture sector have been unable to come to Japan because of the COVID-19 outbreak, farm minister Taku Eto said at a news conference on April 28.

In order to prevent farmwork from stagnating, the government will take measures to support farms secure workers using funds allocated in the fiscal 2020 draft supplementary budget, Eto said.

The farm ministry included in the government’s draft supplementary budget an emergency measure to support farmers and agricultural corporations having difficulty securing workers because arrivals of foreign trainees and people with special skills have been disrupted to contain the spread of the new coronavirus.

Under the measure, the government will cover additional expenses for hiring alternative workers and pay a maximum of 500 yen per hour for wages that exceeded the initially planned amount.

Costs for transportation, accommodation and insurances will also become subject to financial assistance, as well as expenses for asking students and officials of agricultural cooperatives to help out with farmwork.

“We are determined to proceed with job matching so that labor shortage won’t occur” in places like large-scale vegetable farms, Eto said, referring to cases in some areas where the agricultural industry facing labor shortage is cooperating with other industries struggling to maintain employment amid the pandemic.

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