The nation will try to lure additional highly skilled foreign professionals and exchange students as part of a drive to stimulate the stagnant economy, according to the latest draft of an immigration policy review compiled by the Justice Ministry.
The plan to “facilitate efforts to accept foreign talents who can help invigorate the economy and society” constitutes part of a seven-point review on the nation’s immigration policy preliminarily unveiled by the ministry during a meeting of a Liberal Democratic Party panel on Thursday.
The review, which the LDP endorsed at the meeting, will serve as a basis for immigration policy over the next five years.
It pledges to ramp up accepting foreign professionals in accordance with demand from industry, while assessing social factors. The new policy, it says, may involve a possible visa tweak along the way.
In other highlights, the ministry is also looking to overhaul the refugee recognition system, which has often been criticized for snail-paced screening and what critics call an excessively rigid scrutiny of applicants’ claims.
Immigration officials attribute the delays in screening to a recent spike in what it calls bogus asylum seekers.
The ministry said a policy review in 2010, in which asylum seekers with a legitimate visa status were allowed to work in Japan unconditionally pending a decision on their cases, triggered “abuse” of the system by applicants whose motive was pecuniary. The rise in such claimants, it said, made it harder for the immigration service to reach genuine refugees.
To counter this, the ministry is considering removing the right to full-time work for some applicants, on a case-by-case basis. It will also introduce a system denying dubious applicants access to the regular screening process and to simplify the assessment of their claims in a bid to speed up recognition of genuine refugees.
Meanwhile, as part of efforts to bolster public safety ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the ministry pledged that immigration officers will strengthen cooperation with police and law enforcement services to guard against potential terrorist attacks and crackdown on visa overstayers.
It will also improve a state-backed foreign technical intern program widely denounced as exploitative, in which interns have been subjected to human rights violations such as unpaid overwork, abuse by employers and confiscation of their personal belongings.
The ministry may refine the review’s text and adopt a final version in coming months after discussing the paper with ministries, an immigration official said.