• Kyodo


Nearly 350 of the first group of non-Japanese nationals applying for newly created visas to work in Japan’s food service industry have passed a qualifying exam, the implementing body has said.

The Organization for Technical Skill Assessment of Foreign Workers in Food Industry said Tuesday that 347, or 75.4 percent, of 460 examinees cleared the language and skills tests held in Tokyo and Osaka last month.

The successful candidates are expected to start working possibly from July, according to the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry, which oversees the food service industry. That sector, which includes restaurants and catering, is among 14 designated as in scope for foreign nationals working under a residence status called Specified Skilled Worker No. 1, which grants a stay of up to five years. The new visa status was introduced on April 1 to cope with the chronic labor shortage arising from the country’s rapidly graying and shrinking population, marking a major policy shift from its traditionally strict immigration rules.

Over the next five years, the government expects up to about 345,000 non-Japanese to acquire the new visa status to work in those 14 labor-hungry sectors, which include accommodation, nursing care, construction and farming.

Of the 347 successful applicants, 203 were Vietnamese, 37 Chinese and 30 Nepalese, the organization said. The second round of exams for food service workers is scheduled for late next month, with exams to be held in seven cities across the nation and plans to accept up to 2,000 applicants.

The government expects up to 53,000 non-Japanese with the new residence status to work in the food service industry over the next five years. Around 140,000 non-Japanese are currently engaged in food service work, according to the ministry.

Proficient workers in the construction and shipbuilding fields can further extend their stay by securing a second, “No. 2” new visa status, which allows holders to bring family members into the country and has no limit on the number of times the visa can be renewed.

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