Invite foreign interns to settle in Japan, think tank says


Staff Writer

A Tokyo think tank says the nation should replace its discredited national foreigners’ trainee program with a system that invites overseas interns to settle in Japan, which would help solve an immediate labor shortage and an approaching demographic crisis.

The Japan Center for International Exchange, or JCIE, unveiled the proposal on Wednesday, calling it a comprehensive replacement for the Industrial Trainee and Technical Internship Program, which has been criticized as a source of rights violations.

The think tank advocates granting foreign interns a renewable three-year visa and, after six years, giving them access to long-term or permanent residency.

In what is perhaps its most radical recommendation, the group also proposes that Japan establish a new ministry to oversee the program.

It says the government should strike bilateral agreements with other nations and coordinate directly with their ministries to guard against unscrupulous private brokers trying to profit from and manipulate the supply of labor.

The proposal says foreign interns should be required to learn basic Japanese language skills and contribute to Japan’s social security system by paying taxes. To facilitate their integration into Japanese society, it urges the government to strengthen legislation against discrimination.

The framework is similar to an employment program for foreigners in South Korea, the think tank said, adding that it based the draft in part on South Korea’s model.

“It’s finally time Japan began seriously considering accepting foreigners on a long-term basis to address the problem of its ever-accelerating population crisis,” said Toshihiro Menju, the think tank’s managing director.

JCIE is a Tokyo- and New York-based foundation established in 1970 with the aim of boosting Japan’s role in the international community by drafting policy proposals and initiating exchange programs.

The group says it may approach politicians with the proposal directly.

  • Richard Solomon

    This won’t ‘solve’ Japan’s demographic challenges but it will help bring new ideas and energy into the country at a time when it needs such things.

  • Guest

    or they could try giving foreigners equal protection under the law. see how that goes over.

  • Charles

    Okay, so let me get this straight… Under these suggestions from this “think tank:”
    – These “interns” will be able to get permanent residency in just six years, despite not having very much education. They also get three-year visas right off the plane!
    – However, people who actually got a bachelor’s degree or other tertiary education and came here on a proper work visa, are not mentioned, meaning they still have to wait ten years to get permanent residency. And many of them have to put up with an endless string of one-year visa extensions (I’m on my fourth consecutive one-year extension).

    Is there any way I can cancel my work visa and come back to Japan as a factory worker, fish scaler, or other laborer? Because according to what this “think tank” is recommending, I’d get longer visas and quicker access to permanent residency that way…

    Here’s an idea, Japan, and I’m not even a think tank:
    – Reduce permanent residency to five years for any foreigner already working here who is reasonably well-behaved and healthy and who can speak intermediate-high Japanese (JLPT N2 or above).
    – Enact a full anti-discrimination law. Actually make some attempt to enforce it.

  • Adam

    I don’t think a three year internship sounds fair at all, to the interns. It is not nice to feel like an underclass, like you’re less than a regular member of society.

    If Japan is going to do this, they should do it all the way through and create a path to citizenship. It is Japan who needs the population influx, so there should be a fair bargain.

    Also, I don’t mean to complain, but this article should have named the think tank. It’s hard to believe that they could only be quoted on background due to the confidentiality of their reports.

  • Lukas Meza

    this is great i want to live in japan one day, im from colombia and this is making things easier for me.

  • itoshima2012

    agree James