National

Japan doubles Taiwan's quota for working holiday visas

Kyodo

Taiwan and Japan signed an agreement on Thursday to allow more young Taiwanese adults to apply for working holiday visas for Japan, while the annual quota for Japanese youth will remain the same.

In the absence of diplomatic ties, Taiwan-Japan Relations Association President Chiou I-jen and his Japanese counterpart, Mikio Numata, chairman of the Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association, signed the agreement at Japan’s de facto embassy in Taipei.

Starting next month, the quota for working holiday visas for Taiwan will be increased from 5,000 annually to 10,000 due to the growing number of Taiwanese applicants. Applicants for the program must be aged from 18 to 30 years old.

Numata said when the program was first introduced, in 2009, the annual quota was 2,000. While it was increased to 5,000 annually in 2014, the number of Taiwanese applicants continues to grow. Last year alone, more than 8,400 young Taiwanese adults applied for the working holiday visas, he said.

Following several rounds of consultations, Numata said Japan had decided to double the annual quota to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the implementation of the program.

“I personally believe that if young people in Japan and Taiwan can better understand each other through this program, it will help Japan-Taiwan ties to become a role model for the world in terms of developing bilateral ties,” he said.

Chiou said it is important for “the pillar of the country,” referring to young people, to live and work in a foreign country to experience firsthand the way of life and working environment of that country.

He pointed out that while more and more young Taiwanese adults are applying for Japan’s working holiday visas, young Japanese adults do not seem as interested in doing so.

Due to the low number of Japanese applicants for Taiwan’s working holiday visa, the annual will remain at 5,000.

Kazuhiro Nihei of Ibaraki Prefecture came to Taiwan in 2015 to learn Chinese and held a working holiday visa since 2016.

Learning Chinese during the day and working at a restaurant at night, Nihei said he began to understand Taiwan and its people, who he described as “optimistic” and “adventurous.”

“They always tell me, ‘Don’t think too much, just try and see,’ ” said Nihei, 30.

After staying for about four years, Nihei said he has gradually discovered the “charm” of Taiwan and would hate to leave.

GET THE BEST OF THE JAPAN TIMES
IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5