Osaka clears way to hire non-Japanese

OSAKA — An interim report released by the Osaka Prefectural Government on Feb. 26 said that 53.5 percent of its workers do not exercise public authority.

This means that long-term non-Japanese residents can be hired for these prefectural jobs. The report concludes that about 4,300 prefectural government workers in 721 sections do not require Japanese nationality. One-seventh of Japan’s long-term foreign residents live in Osaka Prefecture.

But the report indicates that foreign residents cannot become section chiefs at the prefectural government’s headquarters and cannot be assigned to jobs that handle financial or personnel affairs. Last October, Osaka Gov. “Knock” Yokoyama said he would like to open the prefectural government’s door to foreign residents as much as possible. The city of Kawasaki allowed foreigners to take last summer’s recruitment exams, but none were successful.

The decades-old ban on foreign local government workers came under further attack in November. Home Affairs Minister Katsuhiko Shirakawa at that time said Japanese nationality is not a requirement for local government service except when officials exercise public authority or influence public opinion.

The ban on foreigners is based on the 1953 decree that “public servants involved in wielding administrative authority or creating the will of the general public must be Japanese nationals.” Most affected by the ban are the estimated 700,000 Korean residents, most of whom were born and raised in Japan. Koreans make up Japan’s largest minority.