Tokyo, Dec. 10 (Jiji Press)–With the Japanese government set to create a new immigration agency next April, the idea has already been suggested within the government that the agency could be upgraded to an independent ministry in the future.
The new agency will be established as an affiliate of the Justice Ministry under a new law to accept more foreign workers in Japan, legislated on Saturday, by upgrading the Immigration Bureau of Japan, a department under the ministry.
The agency will provide guidance to companies accepting foreign workers with newly created visa categories and carry out on-the-spot inspections. The Justice Ministry has requested a budget for an extra 585 workers to fill posts as immigration officers, security guards and other staff in the year from next April.
In the meantime, the proposed idea would involve allocating more staff and authority to a possible immigration ministry and making it independent of the Justice Ministry. Another suggestion is to combine departments related to foreign residents across ministries and agencies under a single ministry.
A senior Justice Ministry official has recently said that a ministry in charge of foreign residents might be possible in the remote future.
Ahead of its birth, there is concern about potential understaffing at the new agency. The government expects some 340,000 people will receive a new visa for lower-skilled workers in the first five years. If labor shortages get more serious due to the aging of society, however, the government might raise that ceiling in the future.
There are strong calls for greater government involvement to prevent bad brokers from getting involved in sending workers to Japan. Against this backdrop, one senior government official said the government could allow the immigration agency to become an independent entity in the future.
Expanding the agency is likely to remain an issue for the government, but it is unclear whether the idea to combine departments on foreign residents under a single ministry will become a reality, as it would be resisted by ministries and agencies that would lose powers and posts.