Several sources are reporting today that Sharp has laid off more than 3,000 foreign workers in Japan as the company moves production of iPhone sensors to a Chinese plant owned by parent Foxconn.
The deep job cuts come as Japan debates whether to bring in more foreign workers amid a national labor shortage, and they illustrate how such employment is often at the mercy of manufacturers’ production cycles.
Sharp’s Kameyama plant in western Japan won a contract to assemble sensor components for facial recognition features on the iPhone X, which went on sale in November 2017. The Osaka-based company ramped up hiring of foreign workers, many of Japanese descent, that summer before starting production, only to reverse course this year.
a Japanese-Bolivian woman who was one of four foreign workers attending a news conference Monday in Tokyo held by labor groups said that “The layoffs came as a shock.”
Apple is thought to have procured the iPhone sensor components from Sharp and South Korea’s LG group. But a difficult assembly process led to shipment delays that were partly to blame for shortages when the phone made its debut.