More than a year after its much-hyped introduction, a government-led initiative to lure "highly skilled" foreign professionals to Japan is making lackluster progress, with the number of those applying for visas under the new system much smaller than initially envisioned.

Dismayed by the poor performance, the government is now eyeing a review of the system in the near future, and may lower hurdles to qualification while tweaking the benefits. The Justice Ministry says the changes will hopefully take effect by the end of this year.

But some experts say that only by a more fundamental overhaul will the program truly become attractive for foreigners worldwide, arguing its perks need to go beyond simply relaxing immigration rules for the eligible.