National

Under new visas, Japan will require firms to fund foreign workers’ return home when they can’t pay themselves

JIJI

The government plans to require companies hiring foreign nationals with planned new work visas to shoulder costs for their return home if the individuals cannot pay their own way, officials said.

The move comes in response to concerns that the introduction of the new work visas will boost the number of illegal foreign residents in Japan and worsen the country’s security situation.

Revisions to the immigration control law are now under deliberation in the Diet with the goal of introducing the new visas in April next year. The move is meant to open the country to more foreign workers to alleviate labor shortages.

The government estimates that up to 345,000 foreign workers will come to Japan under the new system over five years.

Under the system, companies hiring foreign workers with the new visas will be required to conclude contracts with them to guarantee the same or higher levels of pay compared with their Japanese counterparts, among other details.

The government plans to issue an ordinance that will encourage such companies to set aside a certain amount of money to pay for the cost of sending foreign workers back home after the expiration of their contracts if they are unable to pay for the journey themselves.

The number of illegal foreign residents in the country stood at 69,346 as of July 1.

To address security concerns, the government also plans to exclude countries which refuse to take back their own citizens deported from Japan from the list of nations eligible for the new visas.

The government plans to enact the immigration law revisions during the current Diet session, which is set to end on Dec. 10.