Japan looks at easing foreign worker criteria

Japan is making plans that will make it easier for more temporary foreign workers to fill jobs in occupations where there are shortages.

However, the country’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe remains steadfastly against allowing permanent immigrants into the country.

Prime Minister spoke last week about how his government would review the guest worker programmes, acknowledging that an ageing workforce is putting some industries under severe strain.

But he was equally keen to make clear his stance that he does not acknowledge this as meaning Japan as an immigration programme.

“My government has no intention of adopting a so-called immigration policy. We are sticking to that point,” Mr Abe said. “The preconditions are an upper limit on the duration of a stay and a basic refusal to let family members accompany a worker. With that, we want to come up with concrete proposals for reform by this summer, focusing on the sectors with greatest need.”

There are currently estimated to be around 1,278,670 foreign workers in Japan – almost double the number there were when PM Abe took power in 2012. Many of these workers, though, are believed to be overseas students working part-time.

Japan continues to struggle to attract skilled workers, due to factors which include language barriers and the aforementioned issues regarding access to permanent residency.

Article published 26th February 2018