Japan to expand its foreign worker policy

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Japan to expand its foreign worker policy

The government plans to broaden the scope of industries by launching a program that allows foreign workers with specific skills to live in the country, the government said Monday.

The number of sectors covered by the Type 2 status will be increased from the current two. New additions include the accommodation, agriculture, and food service industries.

The aim of the bill is to foster long-term employment of foreign workers to alleviate labor shortages in Japan due to the nation's declining birthrate.

The government presented the plan at a meeting of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party on Monday, aiming to give the cabinet's approval in June after discussions within the party.

Under Japan's current system, which was introduced in 2019, Japan grants the Type 1 status to workers with certain skill levels and the Type 2 status to highly skilled workers who can be supervisors.

Workers with the Type 2 status can remain in Japan for a long time by renewing their status and bringing their family members to Japan. The Type 1 status allows foreigners to stay in Japan for up to five years.

While Type 1 covers 12 sectors, Type 2 covers the construction sector and the shipbuilding and ship machinery sector now.

The industries to be covered by Type 2 also include building cleaning, food and beverage manufacturing, and machine parts and industrial machinery as well as electric, electronic and information products.

The fields covered by Type 2 will be similar to those of Type 1, with the exception of the nursing care field, for which there is already a similar visa status.

The move is expected to help Type 1 holders smoothly acquire the Type 2 status after their five-year terms end as early as May next year.

The Immigration Services Agency has not released an estimate of how many foreign workers will be granted Type 2 visas.

In Japan, there is a longstanding opposition to the acceptance of workers with specific skills.

Before the system was implemented, the Judicial Affairs Committee of the House of Representatives adopted a supplementary resolution saying that the residency status should be managed strictly, accepting workers only in fields that truly need them.