Shoko Sasaki, chief of the Immigration Services Agency in Japan, has stated her confidence that the recently revised Japanese immigration and visa policies will boost tourist arrivals and help to ease labor shortages in the country in 2020 and beyond.
Sasaki is the first commissioner of the new agency, which was formerly the Japanese Immigration Bureau, and has already overseen the expansion of work opportunities for foreigners in Japan, including the introduction of several new types of work visa.
Two new types of Japan work visa were introduced in April 2019, aimed at both blue-collar workers with limited skills and skilled workers and their families. The scheme has been implemented in order to attract short-term labor from abroad as well as to attract foreign citizens to settle permanently in the country.
Although only a small fraction of the desired number of applicants have obtained the new work visas for Japan so far, Sasaki remains confident that the program will pick up speed in the coming year and hit the target of 345,000 foreign workers over a 5-year period.
How the New Japanese Work Visa Policy Will Boost Industry in 2020
The revision of the work visa policy aims to make it easier for foreign workers to legally work in Japan, in order to combat shortages across several industries in the country, including in the agricultural, construction, and hospitality sectors.
The new work visa program is being hailed as a more efficient and reliable way of drawing workers to Japan. It is expected to eventually replace the Technical Intern Training Program (TITP) for paid foreign interns which many Japanese industries have been reliant on to fill their labor needs since the 1990s.
The new visa policy is expected to greatly improve workplace and social conditions for foreign labor over those granted under the TITP program, as it requires companies to provide the same pay and benefits that they would to Japanese workers doing the same job.
Workers will also have the opportunity to switch jobs under the new system, something that was not previously available for the TITP program.
Serval other measures to boost the foreign skilled workforce in Japan have also recently been implemented, including the relaxation of visa requirements for Pakistani students wishing to understand Japanese society and work in the country.
Who Can Work in Japan under the New Visa Policy?
Foreign citizens who wish to work in Japan are now able to apply for one of the new work visa types from a Japanese embassy or consulate.
Applicants are first required to take a skills test either in Japan or at a Japanese embassy abroad, and then obtain sponsorship from a Japanese company in their desired industry.
It is then necessary to supply a range of supporting documentation and take a Japanese language test at the embassy or consulate in order for the desired work visa to be granted.
Immigration chief Sasaki stated that so far only 1,732 foreign citizens have obtained working permits under the new system, but that around 10,000 foreigners are expected to take work visa skills tests by March 2020.
She added that the complex implementation of the new work policies are to blame for the slow start to applications so far, but that she fully expects the numbers to pick up due to the overwhelming demand for labor in the targeted sectors of Japanese industry.
Sasaki hopes that the additional policy measures being introduced to help foreign workers acclimatize to life in Japan, including Japanese classes and foreign-language support, will also prove an attractive incentive to potential applicants.
Japanese Tourist eVisa to Further Boost Economy in 2020
The recent revision of Japanese visa policies comes just in time for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, which in addition to creating more jobs in industries like the construction sector, is also vastly expected to boost the number of tourist arrivals to the country in 2020.
In order to simplify the process of getting a visa to travel to Japan for the huge international event, the government is introducing a Japanese electronic visa system for Chinese citizens in April 2020.
It makes sense that Japan would want to boost the potential of its biggest tourist market by making a simplified eVisa application available in time for the Tokyo Games. Around 60% of all Japan visas issued in any given year are granted to citizens of the People’s Republic of China.
Although the electronic tourist visa for Japan will first be available to exclusively to citizens of China, the government is planning to roll out the online system to other nationalities in the near future. The hope is that the new system will allow the government to hit their targets of 40 million annual tourist arrivals by 2020, and 60 million by 2030.