Acceptance of foreign workers under a new system is coming into full effect. It is essential to create an environment in which they can lead stable lives and not cause any friction in local communities.
In the new Type-1 residence status for specific skills introduced in April, 347 foreigners have passed the examination for certification in the food-service industry. Successful candidates in the nursing-care and hotel industries will soon be determined, and those workers can be expected to get started in those fields as early as July.
The new system allows foreigners to gain employment in 14 industries suffering because of severe labor shortages, with candidates having to pass Japanese-language exams and skill tests in their respective fields. It is necessary to determine whether each applicant has the ability to work in Japan, based on the characteristics and difficulties in each industry.
Foreign workers with about three years of technical training experience are eligible to obtain Type-1 status without taking the test. Early this month, the Immigration Services Agency issued Type-1 status to two female Cambodian nationals who have been working in the agricultural sector.
Including the technical training period, the duration of the stay in Japan can be as long as 10 years. The government and companies are urged to cultivate the workforce with medium- and long-term perspectives in mind.
With the new residence status, the government expects to accept as many as 340,000 foreign workers over the next five years. The utmost efforts need to be made for the smooth implementation of the new system.
Measures to support foreign workers in the search for jobs and housing are also important after they obtain the new status.
Ensuring laws are followed
To that end, the government has set up a “registered support organization” system to assist. Registered organizations, commissioned by the employing companies, will help secure housing and open bank accounts as well as provide information on community etiquette.
Firms seeking foreign workers are small- and medium-scale companies troubled by shortages in terms of human resources. Many of them are expected to rely on support organizations that are well acquainted with the procedures.
Already many companies and other entities, including employment agencies and administrative scriveners, have applied to be listed as support organizations. The agency must remember to select support organizations by scrutinizing applicants over matters such as whether they have set up sufficient systems to carry out the tasks, and whether they have not violated laws or regulations.
Local governments must step up their preparedness to accept Type-1 workers. Local residents hold strong concerns about foreigners staying here illegally and a possible decline in public safety. Consultation counters that can handle multiple languages have to be set up, and sufficient measures must be taken so problems do not occur in local communities.
In the technical training system for foreigners, cases are evident in which brokers in their countries mediated the recruitment of prospective trainees, who then incur huge amounts of debt. Also an issue is the large number of trainees who have gone missing. The same mistakes should never be repeated.
The government — with the purpose of shutting out malicious brokers — has signed memorandums with five countries, including the Philippines and Cambodia, expected to send workers to Japan. The government needs to sign similar memorandums quickly with such countries as China and Vietnam.
Sharing information with each country, the government has to urge them to take strict measures against this kind of illegal activity.