The Justice Ministry will expand the range of jobs eligible for working visas to allow more foreign students, including those studying “Cool Japan” subjects, to stay in the country after graduation.
Other jobs could include “activities that require smooth communication ability through the Japanese language,” sources said.
The new rules will take effect in spring next year.
Under the current system, only “skilled” people in 18 fields, such as health care or the arts, can gain working visas and reside in Japan after graduating from college or university. Amateur athletes can also apply for residence status in this framework.
However, Japan now faces labor shortages in a number of industries, and the ministry decided to ease the visa rules so that competent foreign graduates in Japan can settle in the country.
“Foreign people who have studied the Japanese language and understand the country well have no option but to return to their countries under the existing conditions,” a senior ministry official said.
For example, foreign students who have learned Japanese cuisine, animation production and other Cool Japan topics at vocational schools cannot legally gain employment in those fields in Japan after graduation.
Under the new system, such foreign graduates will be allowed to work as attendants at hotel restaurants and assistants at animation production studios.
About 12,000 foreign students graduated from four-year university programs in Japan in fiscal 2016, but only around 40 percent of them remained in the country for work.
The ministry is also considering setting up a new type of residence status in spring for people who arrive in Japan for the purpose of working in the country.