Recent Japanese Visa Developments

This is Stephanie of IMS.

Are you ready for the upcoming Golden Week holidays? Here’s hoping the weather stays nice for everyone’s holiday, wherever it may be.

As I’ve written about previously, there have been recent developments and changes with the Japanese visa system, including a new category that came into effect April 1. Not only is the Ministry of Foreign Affairs releasing a new online application system this summer for employers and agents, but the Japanese government is also planning to expand current categories over the next few years. For example, the government plans to accept up to 60,000 nursing care workers beginning in fiscal year 2019; just last week on Saturday, April 13, was the nursing exam to test for Japanese and nursing proficiency. (Online registrations at the Manila testing site closed within a few hours due to capacity.)

In addition, TEPCO has announced that they are planning to hire dozens of foreign contractors to fill in the work shortage at the Fukushima power plant to assist in its decommission. This new visa system is mainly to bring in blue collar workers to Japan bolster labor-focused sectors such as construction, farming, and nursing care. The current foreign trainee plan does not allow for workers to work in decommission areas, as the program’s purpose is to acquire skills for later use in the trainee’s home country, but unfortunately, there have been growing complaints of exploitation of workers in the technical-trainee program.

Although the influx of workers is sorely needed for Japan’s aging society, we must also be sure to treat foreign workers fairly and give them the opportunities to help where they can.