Japan is planning to revise visa rules by 2018 summer as it needs more skilled overseas workers to plug critical labour shortages. Its government says it is considering increasing visa categories and relaxation of rules.
Although it will primarily target the IT sector, other sectors facing severe workforce shortages such as construction, care, agriculture and transport will also be given due importance. This is an indicator of how ageing population of Japan, which urgently requires workers, is forcing the country to give up its traditional ideas.
Shinzo Abe, Japanese prime minister, is, however, willing to accept mostly temporary workers and not people who would settle down permanently. On the other hand, the number of international workers in Japan has increased during the past five years owing to it robust economic recovery has produced demand for workers. Now, the unemployment rate of Japan has fallen to 2.8 percent and there are 1.59 applicants for each open job, which is one of its highest figures since the early part of the 1970s.
The number of foreign workers in Japan in 2012 was 682,450 as against 1,278,670 in 2017, which is almost double. About 20 percent of the workforce of Japan under Mr Abe is foreigners.
Meanwhile, business groups, which are facing increasing pressure to increase wages to lure native workers, are trying to prevail over the Japanese government to offer increasing number of work visas.
Toshimitsu Motegi, minister of state for economic and fiscal policy, was quoted by The Financial Times as saying that they were looking to review the system for talented workers. He said that they would look at each sector for the minimum essential skill levels.
Japan, the Land of the Rising Sun, has been finding it tough to encourage skilled international workers because of its conservative language and cultural traditions in addition to its tough policy of granting citizenship or permanent residency.
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