Japan OKs economic plan that allows more foreign workers

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Print this page Email A Friend!

TOKYO, Japan (AP) — Japan's Cabinet yesterday adopted an economic plan that would allow more foreign workers, as the rapidly aging country seeks to make up for its declining workforce.

Under the plan, Japan would relax visa requirements in sectors facing severe labour shortages such as nursing care, agriculture, construction and transport — new categories it would start accepting in addition to highly skilled professionals.

The workers would be allowed to stay in the country for up to five years only as visitors, not as immigrants. They would not be allowed to be accompanied by family members — a measure that would encourage them to leave Japan when their visas expire and not become part of Japanese society. Japan also sets high standards for language skills and cultural understanding.

Still, the decision underscores Japan's need to fill its labour shortage, forcing it to put aside its reluctance to accept outsiders.

“As we have faced a severe labour shortage at small and medium-size companies, we need to allow more foreign workers with certain levels of expertise and skills, not just those with highly specialised skills that we have accepted,” said Economic and Fiscal Policy minister Toshimitsu Motegi. “We need people who can start immediately.”

The basic economic plan for 2018 needs parliamentary approval before it can take effect.

Motegi said the plan is not a scheme to acquire cheap labour or a change to Japan's immigration policy.

The number of foreign workers in Japan has nearly doubled over the past five years to 1.28 million last year. The fastest-growing group is Vietnamese, whose population grew by 40 per cent from a year earlier, many of them doing construction and nursing care jobs.

Officially, Japan only grants visas for highly skilled technical professionals, but small companies often take advantage of visa loopholes for foreign students and others on technical internship programmes for training, putting them to work in factories and other low-skilled jobs.

Human rights groups and business lobbies have urged the government to expand work visas so that foreign workers can work legally and under improved conditions.

Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at http://bit.ly/epaperlive




1. We welcome reader comments on the top stories of the day. Some comments may be republished on the website or in the newspaper � email addresses will not be published.

2. Please understand that comments are moderated and it is not always possible to publish all that have been submitted. We will, however, try to publish comments that are representative of all received.

3. We ask that comments are civil and free of libellous or hateful material. Also please stick to the topic under discussion.

4. Please do not write in block capitals since this makes your comment hard to read.

5. Please don't use the comments to advertise. However, our advertising department can be more than accommodating if emailed: advertising@jamaicaobserver.com.

6. If readers wish to report offensive comments, suggest a correction or share a story then please email: community@jamaicaobserver.com.

7. Lastly, read our Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy

comments powered by Disqus



Today's Cartoon

Click image to view full size editorial cartoon