Selective immigration for highly skilled urged

by Takahiro Fukada

The Japan Forum on International Relations, a Tokyo-based think tank, urged the government Wednesday to accept more foreign workers and tourists while being selective in accepting long-term residents.

In a report submitted to Prime Minister Naoto Kan, the forum argued that Japan should focus in particular on accepting highly skilled professionals.

The report urges the government to be cautious about granting local-level voting rights to permanent foreign residents, saying it is “probably unconstitutional” and could lead to “grave political consequences.”

The paper was signed by 87 policy committee members of the forum, including prominent politicians, scholars, business leaders and former diplomats.

It says municipalities and other entities should direct foreign residents who aren’t proficient in daily Japanese to take language courses and provide them with opportunities to master practical Japanese with minimum financial burden.

Under the selective immigration policy, the forum suggested the priority should be on accepting foreign migrants like scientists, researchers, highly skilled workers and business managers “who can contribute intellectually and/or technically to science, technology and industries to which Japan attaches strategic importance.”

On arrangements for foreigners with insufficient Japanese proficiency, the forum advised the government to ascertain their language ability prior to their arrival in the country.