Japan to ease visa entry for foreign yard workers

Amid a demographic straightjacket Tokyo will open up its highly regulated visa program to get more foreigners to work at the nation’s shipyards and be able to get permanent residence in the country.

The government is set to try and pass a revision bill of the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Law during the current parliamentary session to introduce the expanded visa program in April.

Shipyard workers will be able to bring their families and renew their visas indefinitely under the proposal in sweeping changes to the country’s immigration laws. The rule changes also are aimed at other industries where Japan faces an acute worker shortage such as in nursing, farming and construction.

In total the government has said up to 47,550 foreign workers could enter the country in the first year, possibly starting next April, and 345,150 workers over five years.

With an ageing population, Japan’s labour market is now short of 586,400 people and will face a shortfall of about 1.45m in five years according to government statistics.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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