Business

Workforce promotion panel: Extend foreign resident visa limit, put elderly, married women to work

Staff Report

Japan should extend the maximum period foreign nationals can stay in the country to eight years from the current cap of five to secure highly skilled workers, and boost jobs by 5 million by creating an environment that encourages the elderly and married women to take up jobs, a government advisory panel said Wednesday.

The Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy, chaired by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, on Wednesday finalized the draft, which will guide economic policy measures to be worked out by a reshuffled new Abe Cabinet, expected to be inaugurated in October, the Nikkei newspaper reported Thursday, without citing a source.

The members picked from the private sector will officially propose the details at Friday’s panel meeting, the business daily said.

The envisioned maximum-stay extension is aimed at boosting productivity of businesses by facilitating employment of highly skilled foreign workers, seen as a key to improved productivity as Japan’s aging population saps its workforce. The assumed targets for the extension include employees of their overseas companies transferred to their Japanese branches and foreign nationals who have highly specialized skills in information technology, according to Nikkei.

The government extended the maximum visa period from three years to five in 2012.

The draft aims to encourage married women to go out and work by revising the current system of allowances available to spouses who earn less than ¥1.3 million annually, because the limit is thought to discourage women from working to their maximum potential. Similarly, the current old-age pension system, whose payouts decline as wage earnings increase, is also targeted for revision in the draft, the Nikkei said

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