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About 70% of entrants into Japan under relaxed entry restrictions are technical trainees, students

  • February 24, 2021
  • , Tokyo Shimbun , p. 1
  • JMH Translation

By Koji Yamada

 

According to Immigration Services Agency (ISA) data, over 70% of foreign nationals who entered Japan between summer 2020 and January 2021, during which the Japanese government relaxed entry restrictions, were technical trainees and students. Short-term business trips, which comprised 40% of entries prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, contracted to the 5% range. Relaxation of entry restrictions was associated with business travel, which suggested corporate business trips. In reality, the majority of entrants were technical trainees, who are effectively low-wage laborers.

 

ISA released weekly numbers of foreign nationals who entered Japan from August 2020 to January 2021. According to Tokyo Shimbun’s tally, only 5.6% (8,216 people) out of a total of 147,083 who entered Japan during that period entered for “short-term stay,” primarily business travel. The largest number of entrants, comprising 43.2% (63,484 people), were technical trainees. International students comprised 28.9% (42,531 people).

 

About 700,000 technical trainees and international students, who comprised the majority of entrants, currently work in Japan. Many Japanese companies stay afloat through the labor of trainees and students who work long hours at low wages. It is thought that the government responded to the business community’s request [to allow trainees and students to enter Japan] by providing an environment that makes it easier for them to enter Japan.

 

Figures on foreign nationals’ entry into Japan in 2020 are clearly different from the 2019 figures. Excluding tourists, whose entry restrictions were not lifted, the 2020 figures were short-term stay, 42%; technical training, 4%; study, 8.8%. Although businesses utilized online exchanges and cut back on business travel, technical trainees and students continued to enter Japan as before.

 

The aim of technical training is that trainees learn a skill to utilize in their home countries. Students come to Japan for their education. Neither visa is intended for work. Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said in the Diet, however, that the relaxation of entry restrictions is aimed at “business personnel.” International students have been included among those whose entry restrictions were relaxed starting in October 2020. (Abridged)

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