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Evaluation system planned to support struggling foreign students' wages in Osaka

Employees at the Osaka Labor Association and others are seen touting the new "Ohineri" tipping system that will help support international students in Japan, in Chuo Ward, Osaka, on June 1, 2021. (Mainichi/Masako Hayakawa)

OSAKA -- A support system to top up the wages of international students in Japan struggling amid the coronavirus pandemic based on their way of working and other variables is planned for implementation, in an initiative headed by a general incorporated foundation and the Osaka Prefectural Government.

    The Osaka Labor Association -- based in the city of Osaka's Chuo Ward -- is attempting to raise 5 million yen (about $45,700) for its "Ohineri" tipping scheme supporting students financially. As of June 7, it had raised some 1.7 million yen and the closing date for donations is June 30.

    According to the group, some 26,000 foreign students live in Osaka Prefecture. In a questionnaire carried out about a year ago, around 30% said they had lost part-time work. The association's analysis said, "International students work to cover their tuition fees and living expenses. The situation makes it difficult for them to keep studying in Japan."

    It was then the association came up with the idea of working with businesses to offer foreign students employment, while at the same time also introducing a five-point "working style" evaluation system granting additional financial rewards based on Japanese language ability, proactiveness, attitude at work and other variables. The money for the top-ups would be paid for from the crowdfunded money.

    Because international students are limited to working a maximum of 28 hours a week, the association aims to have the wage increases help restore their financial situation. Evaluations are provided by the businesses employing the individuals.

    The association said, "It's not about providing a set level of financial support, but about helping students get motivated with a system that, if they work hard in, they can get a better evaluation."

    Participation in the program requires applications from businesses, and the initial aim is to make the scheme eligible for 150 international students. The association plans to open a site for businesses at the end of June.

    The website for the crowdfund support can be found at the following link: http://readyfor.jp/projects/ohineri. Telephone inquiries can be made with the association (in Japanese) on 06-4794-7355.

    (Japanese original by Masako Hayakawa, Osaka Circulation Administration and Promotion Department)

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