Japan Eyes on Making Labor Markets Accessible to Foreign Workers

To avoid new foreign talents from concentrating in large cities like Tokyo, the Japanese government is eyeing on taking measures to make regional labor markets accessible to them.

Next year, Japan is set to admit more foreign workers upon implementation of the country’s new visa system. Thus, the government now considers taking measure to make regional labor markets accessible to foreign workers, particularly to blue-collar employees, to prevent them from concentrating only in large cities like Tokyo.

Following the recent enactment of the country’s revised immigration laws, the government has compiled a draft basis policy about how to run the new visa system.

Under the new visa categories, Japan is set to accept approximately 345,150 foreign talents aged 18 and up in 14 fields, which includes construction, more than the next five years.

So far, while rural areas are facing more serious labor shortage, concerns are still looming as to whether local governments are in the right position to provide sufficient language education, welfare services and even housing to accept more foreign talents.

“When the revised law was passed, there was a supplementary resolution to prevent workers concentrating in Tokyo, so we would like to properly address that issue among others,”

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga

Though stopping short of providing specifics, the draft policy is calling for taking “necessary measures” to meet the basic needs of foreign workers according to reports.

This month, the cabinet is expected to endorse the policy plan, giving way for the government to finalize measures to meet workers’ basic needs, the reports claimed. For example, the government currently considers how to provide foreign workers equal access to public services through multilingual consultation.

Moreover, the government is set to provide industry-specific rules. For instance, a home-visit care shall be excluded from the services that foreign caregivers at nursing homes will be permitted to give.

Under the basic policy, employers must outline their objectives in requesting to hire foreign talents, and provide specific reasons.

In addition, it likewise prohibits discrimination based on race when it comes to pay. It also requires employers to call for their employees to give different support measures – like holding orientation sessions, giving transportation after arrival and departure, and assisting with language learning.

Meanwhile, Japan has decided to hold language exams for the applicants for the new working status categories in at least eight countries, with arrangements already settled in seven of them, reports added.

The seven countries are China, Vietnam, Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, Cambodia and Myanmar.

And, to deal with possible human rights issues like exploitations by brokers, the government likewise considers signing an information-sharing agreement with the governments of the countries from which most of the foreign workers are expected to originate, in order to have access to details of pertinent police investigations.

Aizelle Joe