Japan Studies New Residency Status for Foreign Workers to Fix Labour Shortages

Japan is currently looking at the possibility of setting a new status of residence for foreigners living in the country under technical internship programs to address the growing issue on Japan’s labour shortages, a source privy to the matter shared last April 11.

According to the source, the status being contemplated by government officials would enable those who have undergone and completed a five-year technical intern training program for foreign workers and meet the requirements to remain and continue to work for another five years in the country.

Japan Looks into New Residency Scheme for Expatriates to Address Labour Shortages


The government is now planning to incorporate the new residency scheme in its labour and economic blueprint set to be organized by June, along with a new bill to introduce the residency scheme through an amendment to the Immigration Control Law which will most likely be presented to the parliament sometime in the fall.

There has also been an on-going discussion in the government regarding the need to widen the scope of foreigners allowed to enter the workforce in Japan since Prime Minister Shinzo Abe brought it up and requested for a review of the existing system regarding the matter back in February.

Japan’s current technical intern training program is configured to promote the transfer of skills abroad, since interns must return back to their home countries after five years of training here in Japan.

With the introduction of the new residency status, foreign workers under internship programs may stay for up to five more years to work in the country. In order to make this plan effective, the government will set certain requirements to qualify for this status, including industry-specific considerations.

The source also mentioned that foreign workers involved in sectors such as agriculture, construction, and nursing, will be given priority for the new residency status because these sectors are greatly affected by the labour shortages.

Of note, the new residency status would prohibit the entry of the interns’ families in the country. This was designed so as not to involve the new status in the sensitive topic of immigration.

The labour shortage in Japan has never been as severe in recent years, particularly in the service sector. In 2017 alone, there were approximately 150 job vacancies for every 100 workers. This had been the largest gap observed in the last four decades.

According to government statistics, the number of foreigners in Japan’s workforce has been steadily on the rise over the past few years, peaking at its highest last October 2017 with 1.28 million, where about 250,000 (20%) of them were classified as foreign technical interns.

2 thoughts on “Japan Studies New Residency Status for Foreign Workers to Fix Labour Shortages”

  1. Will the new resident status also affect the foreign workers with those refugee applicant or Visa in designated activities with special skills such as English Instructor, nurse,ect.


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