Japan eyes new residency status for foreign workers

Japan is creating a new residency status for foreign technical interns as part of efforts to tackle severe labor shortages.


The status allows those who have completed a five-year foreign worker technical training program and those who have met stringent requirements to stay and work for five more years.


The government will incorporate the plan into its fiscal and economic policy sometime in June 2018. A bill introducing the measure through a revision to the Immigration Control Law is likely to be submitted to parliament during a special session.


photo credit to: https://apjjf.org

Debate to expand foreign nationals allowed to work in Japan has been in progress within the government since Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called for a review of the current framework last February.


Japan’s technical intern training program was intended to transfer skills abroad and the interns, as of April 2018, must return to their homeland after five years.


The new residency status would allow them to stay in Japan to work for approximately ten years. The government will set requirements to procure the status, especially to industry-specific interns.


The status will be given to those working in high-demand fields such as nursing, agriculture and construction or in sectors where labor shortages are severe.


Their families won’t be allowed to enter the country and a certain provision is alive to keep the creation of the new status from leading to discussions on immigration issues.


Labor shortages are already extremely high, especially in the service sector. In 2017 alone, there were 150 job openings per 100 workers, the largest gap in forty years.


The number of foreign workers has increased in recent years, hitting a record high of 1.3 million in October 2017. Government data reveals that, of the 1.3 million workers, the number of technical interns is at 250,000.


Reference: Japan looks to offer longer stays for technical interns, with caveats it hopes will limit immigration debate



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