The new Japanese visa regulations, which intend to bring more foreign workers to fill job gaps in Japan, have come into force on April 1.  Though Japan is known for its strict immigration policies, the country has been forced to undertake such move in order to deal with the growing problem of labor shortages in the country.

The governing coalition of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pushed the law to let foreign workers come to the country, last year in December. Now the new regulations permit two categories of foreign workers to come and work in Japan.

The first category is unskilled foreign workers. These persons can apply for a work visa to Japan, with a validity of up to five years, but are not permitted to bring their families with them. The second is for skilled foreigners that pass a Japanese language exam, and are allowed to bring their families with them. They can apply for a visa extension unlimitedly, and can eventually apply for residency in Japan.

The Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe talked about the new regulations on March 29, 2019, at the fourth meeting of the Ministerial Council on Acceptance and Inclusion of Foreign Human Resources. During this meeting, he said that Japan has already prepared to introduce the new visa system and asked the ministers to collaborate closely in order to ensure the implementation of this system.

This new system is to respond to the serious shortage of human resources in Japan right now, by accepting foreign human resources. We have made thorough preparations to introduce this system, such as holding briefing sessions in every prefecture, since the passage of the relevant bill at the recent extraordinary session of the Diet. I ask the relevant ministries and agencies to continue to collaborate closely with each other to ensure the smooth implementation of the new system,” PM Abe said.

He also asked those present to make efforts so that both Japanese nationals and foreign nationals enjoy mutual respect in Japan.

The new law on foreign workers foresees bringing 47,000 foreign workers in the first year of the visa. They expect to bring as many as 345,000 workers of both categories within five years. The new law obliges companies to pay foreign workers at least equally to Japanese nationals, in order to prevent companies from importing cheap labor.

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