Estimated population numbers in Japan are staggering - In just over 20 years (2015-2040) the population is expected to drop from its estimated 127m to 111m, and by 2090 down to approximately 67m, according to the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research. To address labour shortages in Japan, due to an aging population and falling birth rate, the Japanese government announced in 2018 that it will implement new residency visa statuses as early as April 2019. Currently there are 1.3m foreign workers in Japan (as of October 2017) out of a population of 2.5m foreign people, but with the decline in Japanese population, a bigger driver for more immigrants has been made. As one answer to this, the Japanese Government has established the “Specified Skilled Worker”(tokutei ginou, 特定技能) visa that is meant to attract more foreign workers to Japan. It covers 14 specific industries: Nursing care, building cleaning, material industry, industrial machinery manufacturing, electrical and electronic information related, construction, shipbuilding and marine equipment, automobile maintenance, aviation related, lodging, agriculture, fishery, food and beverage manufacture, restaurants. Within each category, an estimated number of acceptances for the first year of the visa being in place is 47,550 and 345,150 over the full five years that the new visa will be open for applications. Top categories expecting the greatest number of visa approvals in the first year includes: Agriculture, building cleaning, food and beverage manufacture, construction and nursing care. Overall, the nursing care industry is expected to be the largest recipient of visas granted with 60,000 over the next five years due to domestic demand. Those eligible for this visa category will need to first pass the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) N4 or higher, or the newly introduced Japanese Language Test, and also pass the skill test which is prepared by each industry sectors. In the case of technical intern training of 3 years or more, the Japanese language test and skills test are not required. These applications shall be done abroad and also within Japan.
The employment contract is required to be secured before application to the District Immigration Office, after which the Certificate of Eligibility is issued and this is sent to the Japanese Embassy/Consulate to receive the visa (this visa can be up to 5 years in length). If a student within Japan, or a dependent, the N4 level exam is required, in addition to the employment contract. However the process differs, where the District Immigration Office is able to issue a new Residence Card upon permission of the Change of Status.
There are a number of great resources online to work out how these policy options may affect you or your workforce. Numbers stated above were provided by Nakai Immigration Services LPC who held a seminar on these visa changes on 12 March. If ANZCCJ members would like a referral to some of the Chamber’s contacts who specialise on immigration/visa issues, please email firstname.lastname@example.org outline your specific needs so that we can assist.