A mid-size job placement agency, Freestyle (FS, Kanazawa City), and one of its group firms are suspected of filing fabricated job contracts between domestic employers and foreign workers with an immigration bureau to secure approval for the foreigners’ entry, the Asahi Shimbun has learned. Freestyle is entrusted by the Nagoya Regional Bureau of the Immigration Services Agency to provide official services to foreigners seeking employment in Japan. The bureau is currently investigating the matter.
The fact came to light from interviews conducted by the Asahi Shimbun with former Freestyle employees and senior personnel of overseas job placement agencies that had done business with the two companies in the past.
Based on witness accounts and documents obtained by the Asahi Shimbun, the placement agency fabricated contracts in a way that makes it easier for the applicants to obtain resident status for the designation “Engineer/Specialist in Humanities/International Services,” which is meant for highly skilled workers such as interpreters and engineers.
An employment contract between an employer and a foreign employee must be filed with the immigration agency to obtain approval for the above resident status. Freestyle and the affiliate prepared two separate contracts: one for the applicant and the other for the immigration bureau. Employees of Freestyle are suspected of having affixed signatures to the documents filed with the bureau, which were supposed to be signed by the applicants. In addition, some contracts showed the wrong duration of employment, and others showed the name of a company that had not hired the applicant.
The fabrication was done because approval for residency will be more likely if the foreign applicant has already secured a job in Japan or has been offered a long-term contract.
A former manager of Freestyle said, “We tried to accelerate entrance of foreigners and to monopolize them so that we can increase income from the placement fees.” Others involved in the scheme confessed, “We signed these contracts at the instruction of the managers,” and said, “It’s been going on for several years. The total would be 150 cases or so.”
The two differing contracts have left the foreign workers in a precarious situation. Some workers entered Japan unaware of the fact that there was no employment waiting for them. Some did not get the job they anticipated and ended up doing a long job search.
The Nagoya Immigration Bureau received a tip about the malpractice at Freestyle in 2018 from a former manager, and since then, the bureau has interviewed foreign workers who entered Japan through the fabricated documents. (Abridged)