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Japan eyes action to prevent surge in permanent foreign residents

  • November 8, 2018
  • , Jiji Press , 10:34 p.m.
  • English Press

Tokyo, Nov. 8 (Jiji Press) — The Japanese government plans to revise rules in order to prevent a surge in permanent foreign residents following the introduction of a planned visa category for relatively unskilled workers, government sources said Thursday.

Under the immigration control law, permanent residency is given to foreign citizens whose behavior is “good,” who have “sufficient assets or skills to make an independent living” and whose permanent residence will be “in accordance with the interests of Japan.”

Furthermore, the government’s guidelines for granting permanent residency limit the eligibility to foreigners who have lived in Japan for 10 or more years and held work or other specified visas for at least five years.

Last week, the government submitted a bill to establish two new visa categories next April for foreign workers with designated skills, including blue-collar workers, and those with higher skills, in a bid to address labor shortages in the country.

Visa holders under the first category will be allowed to stay in Japan for up to five years, while those under the second category will be entitled to stay for indefinite periods.

Therefore, the planned visa categories would help foreign workers clear the condition of holding work or other visas for at least five years under the permanent residency guidelines, giving rise to fears that the new system could lead to a surge in permanent residents.

Considering such concerns, the government plans to stipulate in the guidelines that the duration of holding new visas for relatively unskilled workers will not be counted in when assessing whether the five-year condition is satisfied, according to the sources.

The government is still considering how the other new visa type will be handled under the permanent residency guidelines.

In the guidelines, the government also plans to clearly state that it will not take into account the possession of visas for trainees under the technical intern training program.

If the bill on the new visa categories is enacted during the ongoing Diet session to Dec. 10, the government is poised to revise the guidelines after receiving public comments, the sources said.

There are concerns, however, that stringent conditions for permanent residency could discourage foreign workers from coming to Japan, leaving domestic labor shortages unresolved.

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