TOKYO — The number of foreign students who changed their visa status in 2018 to work in Japan after graduating from universities or vocational schools hit a record high amid a chronic manpower shortage, immigration authorities said Wednesday.
A total of 25,942 students switched their status of residence last year to those required to land a job in Japan, up 3,523 from a year earlier, according to the Immigration Services Agency.
The figure more than doubled from 2013, apparently reflecting overall growth in the number of overseas students and surging demand from companies for foreign workers to deal with a labor crunch caused by Japan’s aging population and falling birthrate.
By type of status, “engineer, specialist in humanities, international services,” under which foreigners can take such jobs as engineers and accountants, accounted for 93.2 percent of work visas, while “business manager” comprised 2.2 percent and “professor” 2.1 percent.
By country and region, Chinese topped the list of students switching to work visas, accounting for 42.0 percent, followed by Vietnamese at 20.2 percent and Nepalese at 11.3 percent. Asian nations accounted for 95.3 percent of the total.
In May, the agency revised a Justice Ministry notification to allow foreigners who have graduated from universities or completed postgraduate studies in Japan to work at restaurants and retail shops under the “Designated Activities” status of residence.
Previously, graduates of Japanese universities from overseas were not allowed to work in the services sector on the grounds that jobs in the industry were irrelevant to their expertise.