Japan’s Parliament is today expected pass a bill that will significantly ease immigration restrictions in the country.
The bill, which would create new visa categories for foreign workers, has already been approved by the lower house, and despite opposition is expected to receive final approval from the upper house today.
Once passed, the foreign worker bill would create two new types of visa status for new arrivals. One would grant five years of residency to those who possess a certain degree of skills and Japanese language ability. The other visa, granted to highly skilled foreign workers, would be renewable and let those individuals bring family members with them to live in the country.
If and when approved, the landmark ruling could see an undefined number of high-skilled workers, and up to half a million low-wage workers move to Japan over the next five years.
Behind this change is a strong push from certain business sectors in Japan that are suffering serious labour shortages due to a rapidly ageing and declining population. The government hopes to enforce the revision beginning next April.
However, the country’s historic failure to integrate previous waves of foreign workers has raised questions as to why migrants would choose to come to Japan.
The country has long failed to fully welcome foreign residents to its shores, with many Japanese natives uneasy at the thought of foreign workers. Many overseas workers who have moved to Japan in the past, don’t tend to stay long.
In 2018, the number of foreign residents in Japan has reached a record high of 2.5 million, although that’s still only 2 per cent of the country’s total population.
Article published 7th December 2018