By NAOKI URANO/ Staff Writer
The Justice Ministry is considering elevating the status of its Immigration Bureau to a separate agency that can more efficiently deal with an influx of foreign workers expected under a new government policy.
“It is extremely important to implement measures to create an environment that would allow foreigners to smoothly live in Japan,” Justice Minister Yoko Kamikawa said at a news conference on July 24.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, seeking to address labor shortages in a number of industries, has called on the ministry to “drastically review its organizational structure” to appropriately handle the increase in foreign workers.
“It is an urgent task to establish a framework for accepting a wide range of industry-ready foreign workers who have already obtained expertise and skills,” Abe said at the inaugural meeting of Cabinet ministers discussing the policy on July 24.
Abe instructed the Justice Ministry to prepare for the change by drafting bills and selecting industries that would accept foreign workers for implementation in April 2019.
Kamikawa said future discussion would examine the situation surrounding each industry, the severity of their labor shortages and whether they need foreign workers.
Under the government’s economic and fiscal policy outline for 2018, compiled in June, a new type of residence status would be created to allow foreigners with certain skill levels and Japanese language abilities to work in Japan for up to five years.
The government’s goal is to attract more than 500,000 foreign workers by around 2025.