Japan is one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations, drawing in almost 30 million tourists from around the world in 2017. This number is already up by 15% and is projected to increase for the rest of 2018. With its culturally rich background that is visible through modern day Japan, it’s not hard to understand why Japan has become remarkably attractive to visitors globally.

New Worker Immigration Policy

While the Japanese government has welcomed tourists to Japan with open arms, foreign workers who want to work in Japan have faced several barriers and setbacks. Japan’s population consists of 98.5% ethnic Japanese and it seems most nationals would prefer it stay that way.

It’s no secret that Japan’s ageing population and resulting labour shortage will cause significant issues in the future. It seems the current administration is taking notable measures in an attempt to counteract the considerable negative economic effects that will materialize.

Japanese Worker

While this is an economically feasible option, there are other concerns facing the new work permits and resulting foreign workers. Cultural integration is a difficult task, especially when language barriers are present. Sponsored language classes are another attempt to alleviate differences. This includes social insurance, tax systems, and working caps.

Slowly but surely, the Japanese government has realized the Japanese economy will not be able to sustain itself on Japanese labourers alone. Japan’s society, growing demand and pressure from businesses has left the government little choice but to increase low skilled workers.

According to an article by the Nikkei Asian Review (2018), Prime Minister Abe has set a concrete goal: to attract more than 500,000 foreign workers by 2025. Plans include the creation of a new type of work permit for severely undermanned sectors such as “construction, agriculture, and nursing care”. Workers can obtain these permits one of two ways. One option is to complete the Technical Intern Training Program for its five-year duration. The other is through examination of Japanese language skills and technical terms.

If the Abe administration starts accepting more low skilled workers, with a positive impact, it could change the immigration stance in Japan. Successful social integration, as well as improved economic performance, could be very persuasive in relaxing immigration policies. This is an extremely controversial topic in Japan, but as time goes on, it becomes an economic necessity, in order for the population to survive, and Japan to continue to be on the cutting edge of technology and global leaders, increased immigration must occur, even if it’s starting at the bottom with low skilled workers. Every structure needs a good foundation, even metaphorical ones.

Number of foreign workers rising in Japan

Aging Population means Japan needs workers 

Japan has one of the strictest immigration policies in the world. Its lack of diversity is what allows the culture to remain untouched and unchanging. The government faces pressure from both businesses that need more workers, and citizens who attribute the peace and harmony in Japan to its lack of foreigners. Japan is wary of long-term immigration. They would rather accept low skilled workers temporarily, in an attempt to fix their looming economic problems.

In previous attempts to increase the labor supply in Japan, campaigns encouraging women and elderly have tried to promote participation in those industries. Businesses have fought to increase the retirement age in order to keep an adequate labor supply but alone it is not enough to fill the needs of today’s modern society.

Foreigner Working in Japan

High skilled workers are accepted longer term in Japan. Acquiring permanent residency in Japan is extremely difficult and has a high rejection rate. It is common for foreign students enrolled in Japanese university to carry on working in Japan.

Only time will tell the impacts of this new work permit, but the foreshadowed effects of the ageing population are certain. With this new immigration policy, it is becoming easier than ever for foreign workers to find jobs in Japan.