National

Government planning seasonal limits on new five-year residence status for foreign workers in Japan: sources

JIJI

The government is planning to impose seasonal limitations on foreigners working in the country under one of two new types of residence status that will permit stays of up to five years, according to sources with knowledge of the matter.

The step will be in response to requests mainly from the agriculture industry, the sources said Sunday.

If foreigners return home after arriving in Japan under the so-called type one status and later come back to Japan under the same visa, the periods during which they actually worked in Japan will be counted as the periods of their stays in the country under the status, according to the sources.

This measure will be stipulated in a Justice Ministry ordinance that will be set after the enactment of a planned bill to revise the immigration control law, the sources said.

The government plans to establish two types of residence status, designed to allow more workers from abroad to enter the country, through the law revision, and is hoping to introduce them in April.

Type one status will be granted to foreigners having certain levels of knowledge or experience. Family members of the holders will not be allowed to come with them.

Meanwhile, type two status will be given to highly skilled people, who will be able to stay in Japan for more than five years. They will be allowed to bring their family members to Japan.

Under the new types of residence status the government plans to allow foreigners to work in 14 industries that face serious labor shortages, including agriculture and construction.

In line with the plan for the residence period to be counted flexibly, the business sector is expected to call on the government to expand the scope of industries qualified to employ foreigners under the new status.

In a hearing conducted recently by the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s Judicial Affairs Division, Mizuho Onuma, a House of Councilors member representing Yamagata Prefecture, called for due consideration to be paid in the design of the new residence status system, noting that the prefecture is busy with farming operations in the summer months and then with snow removal work during the winter.

An official from the Kumamoto Prefectural Government said that farmers there are busy for only limited periods of the year.