Indian employees doubled at Hidaka Farms

Indian horse riders enjoying cricket on a day off

The number of Indian nationals working as horse riders who train race horses has doubled over the last one-and-a-half years, and reached more than 400 Indian nationals at light horse breed training farms in central Hokkaido’s Hidaka area.
Many Indians work very hard, and some bring their family members to Japan. But some are unable to enter Japan due to the novel corona virus. As a result, the worker shortage is becoming more serious and some places are experiencing difficulties.
The number of Indians registered as residents in the Hidaka area as of at the end of July is 408. This number nearly doubled from the previous population of 209, recorded as of the end of October 2018. In addition, there are dozens of Indians who are restricted from entering Japan due to the novel corona virus. They are still waiting to enter.

Japanese workers tend to avoid the light horse breed industry due to the image of working with animals being one of hard work. Thus, in the 2000s, the industry started hiring foreign workers. In India, horse racing is popular and there are many Indians who have experience in riding and training horses. Indians also developed a reputation for a professional work performance, and the amount of hires skyrocketed in 2015. Most come to Japan with a “skilled labor visa,” which allows them to switch jobs within the same line of work. The average salary of the Indian horse riders is 200,000 to 250,000 yen, depending on work experience. This amount is a few times larger than what is generally offered in their home country.
However, even though “the industry cannot survive without Indians” (remark from a ranch owner) due to the lack of people who want to become horse riders, there are some Indians who cannot enter Japan from India because of the corona virus, and that exacerbates the worker shortage. Job compensation varies from place to place, and problems related to job switching are occurring as well. Sources in the light horse breed industry worry, saying, “There should be rules when hiring,” and, “If we don’t improve the work environment, they will not come to Japan.”