Japan may accept more highly skilled foreign workers


The government is considering increasing the number of foreign engineers and researchers accepted into the country by units of 100,000, according to Yasutoshi Nishimura, senior vice minister at the Cabinet Office.

Nishimura signaled the intention to significantly ease the criteria for giving preferential treatment to highly skilled people during a question-and-answer session after giving a lecture Monday in Washington on Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s growth strategies.

Nishimura said the government will promote deregulation to allow for 24-hour financial transactions in Tokyo in an effort to strengthen its status as an international financial center and encourage investment.

The proposals are part of the government’s move to set up special strategic zones in and around Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya under Abe’s economic policies.

Nishimura said measures for the Kansai special zone may include strengthening distribution networks via the area’s airports.

Also, the establishment of a center for regenerative and other advanced medicine, as well as the approval of casino operations are among proposals being discussed as ways to attract wealthy tourists from Asian nations, Nishimura said.

  • Sushi

    Funny, should have done this years ago when Japan was still percieved as interesting to go to and work there. Now it is passed by other countries which attract high skilled workers. I would say: Japan you are too late.

  • Japan “MAY”? Japan really needs to wake up. The country has been losing it’s competitiveness recent years. Need to move faster than this really. But, this is an improvement after decades of contemplation… Though bringing skilled foreign workers also means to gearing up all other means of living so that they can actually comfortably live and stay here. Japanese government has a long way to go especially with the psychology of its people towards foreigners. It won’t come so easily.

  • Spudator

    There’s a bit of a compatibility issue here, isn’t there?

    Regardless of their mother tongue, engineers and scientists from around the world will be fluent in the international language, English, and will expect to be able to communicate with their Japanese colleagues and co-workers in English. I wonder how that’s going to be possible in Japanese companies and universities where only a few people speak English fluently and at the right level.

    I don’t think Nishimura and his pals in the government have thought this plan through properly.

  • I think Japan should concentrate more on educating its people than accepting “highly skilled foreign workers.” Not that I’m against accepting skilled foreign workers, but educating its own citizens should be prioritized.

    • Tanjer

      Absolutely agree with you! Don’t they see what’s going on in Europe
      since they decided to make a focus on foreign labor resources?

    • Glen Douglas Brügge

      What do you think is preventing Japan from doing this? Japan certainly triumphed in the past on its own.

  • Roy Warner

    Fine idea if any are willing to come. It may clean a number of third world countries out of engineers. But there are many young Japanese who can’t find jobs or work as permanent temps, unable to consider starting families. How about hiring some of them? If companies increase the pay for engineers then more Japanese youths will go into the field.

    • Perry Constantine

      That’s a good point. Another problem here is the Japanese work culture, which needs some serious reform.

  • Guest

    Agreed – I don’t think these guys seem to be very clued in. I lived in Japan for 5 years, and loved it – but it is an extremely difficult place to live compared to other countries – if you do not know the language, customs, are willing to put up with the business culture and aren’t prepared for the “other” frustrations of “gaijin” status – it will not be a very easy place to live. I do not expect Japan to change for the “gaijins,” but Nishimura must realize there are many issues that will have to change in society at large in order to make it an attractive place to work. Most people from developing countries are willing to put up with the hardships – they are flocking to Japan to exploit the opportunities – but I do not think the “elite” of the West are too interested – to them, Japan has proven too moribund and insular, and places like China are where the action is. I love Japan dearly, but it seems to not see the deeper issues.