Japan May Ease Visa Restrictions for Foreign Skilled Workers

In a major shift for a country long closed to immigrants, Japan is looking to allow foreigners in certain blue-collar jobs to stay indefinitely starting as early as the 2022 fiscal year, a justice ministry official said on Thursday. Under a law that took effect in 2019, a category of “specified skilled workers” in 14 sectors such as farming, construction and sanitation have been allowed to stay for up to five years, but without their family members.

The government had been looking to ease those restrictions, which had been cited by companies as among reasons that they were hesitant to hire such help. If the revision takes effect, such workers — many from Vietnam and China — would be allowed to renew their visas indefinitely and bring their families with them, as the other category of more skilled foreigners are allowed to do now.

Immigration has long been taboo in Japan as many prize ethnic homogeneity, but pressure has mounted to open up its borders due to an acute labor shortage given its dwindling and ageing population. “As the shrinking population becomes a more serious problem and if Japan wants to be seen as a good option for overseas workers, it needs to communicate that it has the proper structure in place to welcome them,” Toshihiro Menju, managing director of think tank Japan Center for International Exchange, told Reuters.

The 2019 law was meant to attract some 345,000 “specified skilled workers” over five years, but the intake has hovered at around 3,000 per month before the Covid-19 pandemic sealed the borders, according to government data. As of late 2020, Japan housed 1.72 million foreign workers, out of a total population of 125.8 million and just 2.5% of its working population. 

(Source: CNBC | Pic: Circuit, Yuri Samoilov)

Related Articles

General
News
On Aug. 25, the first flying car was successfully tested by SkyDrive Inc., a Japanese company that develops urban air mobility solutions, at a Toyota Test Field in Japan, according to a press release on SkyDrive’s website...
Investors/Business
News
Hongkongers are returning to the Japanese property market after a two-year absence, taking advantage of a weakening yen, which is at a 20-year low against the US dollar. “Inquiries for Japanese homes from Hongkongers have surged by up to 40 per cent this month,” said Anvy Cheung, chief executive of Sakura Global, which specialises in Japanese property. “In the past two years, most of them just stayed on the sidelines, adopting a wait-and-see approach [due to the pandemic].”
General, Investors/Business
Interview
"There’s no question, we all know that we live in volatile times – the real estate markets around the world couldn’t be more speculative. Yet here, in Japan, here’s a market that focuses on steady cash flow and rental income..."
General, Investors/Business
Information, News
Japanese land prices fell for the second straight year as the country's closed borders and state of emergency curbs to combat the coronavirus pandemic hit demand for new restaurants and hotels...