According to Japan’s Justice Ministry, the nation is currently considering the idea of allowing foreigners in to fill certain blue-collar positions, offering them an indefinite stay for the fiscal year 2022. Japan has traditionally been known for it’s very strict immigration policy, but a critical shortage of workers has led the nation to take more desperate measures. The problem arises from a steadily declining population as well as new challenges caused by both the pandemic and the loss working professionals.

More Opportunities for Blue-Collars
While the issue is currently being discussed, it seems unlikely that permanent residence status will be granted so easily. Though any modifications to current employment law will likely result in visa extensions. On the other hand, a 2019 policy that was introduced allowed for ‘specified skilled workers’ to work in up to 14 industries including agriculture, construction, and sanitation for up to five years without family members. According to Nikkei Asia Daily, the government is trying to expand on the policy, thus eliminating the five year restriction.

The Long Game
This change in stance with regards to immigration may open up more opportunities for foreigners to gain permanent residency within Japan, a privilege that has traditionally been reserved for a select few foreigners who are in highly sought after positions. The government has been working to ease such restrictions, which have been cited by businesses as one of the reasons they are cautious to recruit such individuals.

In 2019, when the foreign worker policy was first implemented, the government was hoping to attract up to 345,000 foreign workers to make up for a desperate shortage of manpower in the workforce over five years. Unfortunately, inflow of workers stagnated at around 3,000 per month, and quickly ceased entirely as the onset of Covid-19 forced the borders close. As of late 2020, Japan has 1.72 million foreign employees out of a total population of 125.8 million, with foreign nationals accounting for only 2.5 percent of the working population.


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