image

Japan

Japan to set up immigration agency to cope with influx of foreigners

The government expects to accept hundreds of thousands of foreigners for jobs as the country grapples with population decline and a labour shortage

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 28 August, 2018, 8:23am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 28 August, 2018, 8:23am

As Japan is set to open the door to blue-collar labourers from abroad next April, the government has decided to upgrade the Justice Ministry’s Immigration Bureau into an agency to respond to an expected surge in work, government sources said.

The ministry will request 3 billion yen (US$27 million) to set up the planned agency, also next April, when Japan starts accepting foreign workers under a new residency status, details of which are expected to be discussed in parliament this fall, the sources said on Monday.

Japan’s open to foreign workers. Just don’t call them immigrants

In what could be a turning point for Japan’s labour market, the government expects to accept hundreds of thousands of foreigners for jobs in fields including nursing care, agriculture, construction, hospitality, shipbuilding, manufacturing and fisheries, as the country grapples with population decline and a labour shortage.

The number of foreign workers in Japan has been surging in recent years amid a labour crunch, doubling to a record 1.28 million as of October 2017 from 680,000 in 2012, according to statistics compiled by the Health, Labour and Welfare Ministry.

Of the 1.28 million, Chinese made up the largest single group of 370,000, followed by Vietnamese and Filipinos.