The Japanese government is making it easier for skilled Pakistani youth to come and legally work in Japan under its new visa regime system. Selected Pakistani students are first being allowed to visit Japanese universities under a youth exchange program made with SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) countries.
The Japan-East Asia Network of Exchange for Students and Youths (JENESYS) aims to strengthen mutual trust and understanding between the people of Japan and participating countries, as well as to open the Japanese labor market to Pakistani nationals and citizens of 9 other countries.
Pakistani students selected for the people-to-people exchange program will be able to travel to Japan without a visa in order to better understand the language and culture, and ideally encourage them to join the Japanese workforce in the future.
The Japan-SAARC Network Programme for Pakistani Youth
The JENESYS program for Pakistani citizens was first inaugurated in November 2019 during the Japan Festival at the National University of Modern Languages (NUML) in Islamabad, Pakistan. The event was jointly organized by the Japanese Embassy in Pakistan and held to showcase the Japanese language expertise of students at the university, as well as to celebrate the cultural diversity of Japan in Pakistan.
During the festival, Japanese Ambassador to Pakistan Kuninori Matsuda announced the names of the first 9 Pakistani students to benefit from JENESYS, to coincide with the anniversary of 70 years of diplomatic relations between Japan and Pakistan in 2020.
Five students from the Pir Mehr Ali Shah Arid Agriculture University and 4 students from the Beaconhouse School, along with a supervisor, were confirmed for a short visa-free trip to Japan later in the month.
The students were later given a pre-departure orientation at the Japanese Embassy in Islamabad to provide them with basic information about Japanese society. Ambassador Matsuda then presented the participants with their free visas for Japan.
Matsuda expressed his view that youth exchange programs such as JENESYS are an ideal way for participants to learn about a new culture. He then encouraged the Pakistani students to make the most of their exchange, to make friends, and to enjoy Japanese culture and historical heritage during their stay.
The New Japanese Work Visa For Pakistani Citizens
The new JENESYS program for Pakistani youth is one of the latest strategies and policies the Japanese government is using to encourage foreign labor to come to the country. The relaxation of Japanese visa requirements for Pakistani students follows the recent introduction of Japanese work visas to ease labor shortages in the country.
There are 2 types of new work visa which allow applicants to stay in Japan for up to 5 years with the possibility of renewal; one aimed at blue-collar workers with limited skills, and one aimed at skilled workers who need to meet certain criteria.
Pakistani citizens have two ways of obtaining the new skilled work visa for Japan:
- Pass an exam which measures Japanese language ability and the skills needed in the industrial sector where the applicant intends to work.
- Complete a three-year technical intern training program in Japan and then change their visa status to ‘specific skills’.
The new skilled work visa can be issued to work in 14 industries in Japan, including nursing care, hotels and restaurant work, IT, and industrial machinery manufacturing.
The government is hoping to attract a maximum of 47,000 foreign workers with the new visa program within the first fiscal year. The largest number of successful applicants so far have been citizens of Vietnam.
Working in Japan as a Pakistani Citizen
Pakistani citizens have been traveling to work in Japan since as early as 1950, 3 years after Pakistan achieved its independence in 1947. Migration to Japan from Pakistan increased dramatically in the 1980s, particularly among unskilled workers, but later in the same decade, visa-free entry to Japan for Pakistanis was revoked due to fears around illegal labor.
By the year 2000, there were only 7,498 registered Pakistanis living and working in Japan. However, this number had increased to 10, 849 by 2011, and is set to rise even further following the introduction of JENESYS and the relaxation of requirements for Japanese visas for Pakistani citizens.
At the moment, Pakistani citizens are required to apply for a visa at a Japanese embassy, whether they wish to work, study, or have a holiday in Japan. However, this is expected to change in the near future when the tourist e-Visa for Japan becomes available through a simple online application, eliminating the need to apply in person for purposes of tourism.