The Japanese cabinet held a meeting on the morning of 2, and passed the amendment to the entry-exit management and refugee Identification Act. According to the amendment, Japan will establish two new types of visas for foreign workers to attract more foreign workers to cope with labor shortages in construction, agriculture, nursing and other industries.
Two new visas require applicants to master Japanese. The first is called Specific Skills No. 1, which requires applicants to have a certain degree of knowledge and skills in a specific field, valid for five years. Those who sign must not go to Japan with their spouses and children.
Specific skill No. 1 has the opportunity to be changed to second. The Japanese government has promised that the expatriate workers will receive the same salary as the Japanese. The Administration of Entry and Residence under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will be upgraded to the Office of Entry and Exit and Residence, which specializes in related matters.
For a long time, immigration is a taboo topic in Japan. Previously, foreign workers accepted by Japan were limited to doctors, professors and other highly qualified professionals. With the aging of the population and the decrease of labor force, the discussion on the admission of foreign workers began to increase.
The Japanese government hopes that Congress will pass the bill in December this year, and will take effect next April. According to Kyodo News Agency, the Abe governments move is clearly to cater to industrial demands and vote for the unified local elections next spring and the Senate elections in the summer.
The bill was challenged by some members of the ruling party and opposition parties. Some people believe that the bill does not set the total number of foreign workers to be admitted and the industry they belong to. Others believe that although the government strongly denies it, it is actually immigration policy.
In the opposition camp, the cabinet rushed through the bill without giving sufficient consideration to how to ensure the rights and interests of foreign workers. Others are concerned that a large number of foreign workers entering Japan will have a negative impact on social security and wage levels.
The Minister of Justice, Yamashita, said that the government was prepared to accept foreign workers from 14 industries, but would not explicitly list them in the bill. The government does not consider restrictions on the total number of foreign workers.
According to data released by Japans Ministry of Health, Health and Labor, as of October this year, the total number of foreign workers working in Japan reached a record 1.28 million, nearly double the 680,000 in 2012. Among them, there are about 370 thousand Chinese workers, accounting for the highest proportion, followed by Vietnamese and Philippines.
Japanese media estimate that after the new law comes into force, the number of foreign workers will increase by about 500,000, an increase expected to reach 40%.