Osaka unveils guideline for hiring non-Japanese

OSAKA — The Osaka Municipal Government introduced a new guideline May 2 allowing foreigners with permanent residency to engage in virtually all municipal jobs except posts involving policymaking or unilateral decision-making in matters concerning local residents’ rights.

Some 5,600 municipal jobs in 276 fields, including public relations, engineering and social welfare services, will be opened to non-Japanese residents, city officials said. Under the new guideline, qualified foreign residents can be promoted to section chief or higher within the specified fields, they said.

Osaka’s non-Japanese population numbers about 120,000, or 4.6 percent of the total. As of October, some 110 foreign residents, including municipal college employees, had been hired by the city government.

Osaka is one of several local governments that have scrapped a requirement under a 1953 government decree that public servants with administrative authority and the ability to influence public opinion must be Japanese. Some prefectures and cities are working on relaxing regulations for the employment of foreign residents, but Osaka is the first city to clarify such rules, according to the local officials.

The Osaka Municipal Government will hold its first municipal job examinations under the new guideline for non-Japanese on June 29. Those who pass the tests will be hired next April 1, they said.

Some Koreans, who make up a large part of Osaka’s ethnic community, expressed disappointment with the new employment rules because they limit the promotion of non-Japanese and the sections they are allowed to work in. “It is a pity that opportunities are so limited, considering that Osaka has the highest number of Korean residents in Japan,” said 28-year-old Mun Gong Hwi, who has been rejected twice from taking exams for the city office. “The rules make it less likely now for employment opportunities to be increased,” he said.

Kim Hyun Soo, leader of the Osaka branch of the Korean Residents Union of Japan, said he will continue efforts to campaign for a complete lifting of the ban on non-Japanese, but applauded the recent move. “The rules will serve as an example to other cities,” he said.