Daily Management Review

Japan is gripped by a flow of migrant workers


01/30/2017


Japan continues to be popular among in migrant workers. In October last year, more than a million foreigners chose this country, and decided to work there – this number is 19% higher than a year earlier. Japan itself does not hide the joy that at last their country looks appealing to highly qualified specialists, whom the government has been trying to lure for many years.



Increasingly more migrants prefer to work in Japan. This is stated in message of Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare of Japan. So far, however, the flows have not changed change, and the main labor force is coming mainly from China and Vietnam. At that, number of Chinese migrant workers increased by 50%, but the Ministry does not hide his disappointment in that this trend has not yet saved the country’s plight.

Japan is faced with a decrease in population and acute shortage of manpower. The country aims to attract more foreign workers, however, those highly skilled are no hurry to choose Japan. Tokyo’s population is rapidly aging and shrinking. According to the government’s calculations, present 127 million of population will be reduced to 87 million within 40-50 years, and half of Japanese citizens will simply be retired. According to other forecasts, local population will be reduced by a third by 2060, resulting in a need to hire foreign workers.

The Ministry hinted that the current situation could still de saved with millions of migrant flows. Tokyo hopes that updated information would motivate foreigners to come to Japan. To attract more foreign labor, the government seeks to introduce reforms and expand programs to get foreign workers interested. 

Now, Japan is the third economy in the world, going after the US and China. In a couple of decades, however, the situation can change dramatically. Ageing population and decline in number of inhabitants will have an impact on the country's position in the world, including in the financial and economic sphere.

Deficiency of workers is particularly perceptible in agriculture (and not only in Japan). According to official data for 2015, there were more than 2 mln. of people engaged in agribusiness, and more than 60% of them were over 65 years old. In this regard, the Japanese government is considering a possibility of bringing qualified foreigners in agriculture sector in the special economic zones - prefectures Akita, Aichi, Ibaraki and Nagasaki. Applicants must be experienced in agriculture and be able to communicate in Japanese. While the government is discussing details of the new system, the experts are expressing great doubt that such selection criteria would help Japan to attract a significant number of foreign workers, especially in agriculture.

The issue of attracting foreign labor has long been discussed in Japan. Prime Minister Abe still hopes to increase the birth rate, engage more women and elderly in the working process. However, Abe’s party fellow said a couple of years ago: "Even if birth rate in our country magically rises tomorrow, it will take 20 years to raise these children..."

Highly qualified foreign specialists are still offered special conditions. Current rules imply that a foreigner with high qualification can apply for permanent residence after 5 years of living in Japan, which is 2 times faster than for ordinary immigrants. Now, according to official representative of the Ministry of Justice of Japan, the government is considering a possibility of reducing this period to three years or even up to 1 year to create one of the fastest systems of issuing "green cards" for high-level professionals. It is expected that amendments to the legislation will be introduced by the end of March 2017.

source: dw.de






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