Japan is facing considerable demographic challenges—including a low birthrate and an aging population—that are causing labor shortages and posing a threat to economic growth. Against this backdrop, in 2019 the Japanese government created a new status of residence for foreign nationals. This new visa category, called Specified Skilled Worker, spans 14 occupation sectors, including agriculture, construction and nursing care.
With this newly created residence qualification and relaxed entry restrictions that took effect on March 1, 2022, the number of foreign workers coming to Japan is expected to increase. However, for these new arrivals, there are various challenges to overcome, including adapting to a new living environment and learning different customs and Japanese as a new language.
To help support these new entrants, on April 1, 2022 SoftBank Corp. (TOKYO: 9434) launched “Musubu Connect”—a one-stop solution smartphone-based app that supports daily life and language study—for companies in Japan that hire foreign workers.
Musubu Connect’s services support health, language skill development and more
The Musubu Connect app encompasses a range of services to make life easier for foreign workers new to Japan, including the following:
- Language support for health consultations
By tapping relevant body areas displayed on smartphone screens, users can select their symptoms and medical history in their native language and tap the "Translate" button to describe their medical conditions in Japanese. More than 2,000 symptoms can be expressed, and users can communicate their symptoms by presenting an on-screen translation to a physician.
The app also has a collection of conversational phrases useful for different medical situations that can be read out automatically. Doctors, nurses, and reception staff can also translate questions from Japanese to the user's native language.
- Disaster notifications
Japan is prone to earthquakes and other natural disasters, so getting up-to-date information is crucial for safety reasons. Musubu Connect uses a smartphone’s location data to receive push notifications that warn users of earthquakes, tsunamis, torrential rains, volcanic eruptions, heat waves, and more. Users can also learn more about each situation and necessary actions to be taken in their native languages.
- Content for learning Japanese
Musubu Connect users can view more than 500 videos that can be used to prepare for the Japanese Language Proficiency Test, a standardized test to certify language proficiency. Users can select video content according to their skills, and upon completing courses, review what they learned with short quizzes. Video content teaching Japanese in the user's own native language is also available for beginners.
Other features of Musubu Connect include native language video content on daily life tips that cover garbage disposal rules, disaster preparedness and Japanese work customs. The app also provides services to open accounts for international remittances and an e-commerce portal to order various foodstuffs from Vietnam and the Philippines.
In the future, Musubu Connect plans to add services that enable users to apply for salary advances, track work and break times and check work shift schedules.
By providing Musubu Connect, SoftBank aims to help promote the independence of foreign workers by making their living and working environments more safe and secure while enhancing the convenience of companies that employ them.
(Posted on April 4, 2022)
by SoftBank News Editors