National

Japan to open up job fields for foreign graduates from universities

Kyodo

The immigration agency said Tuesday it will increase the number of business sectors that foreign nationals are allowed to work in after graduating from universities or completing postgraduate studies in Japan, in the latest effort to lure more laborers to the country.

Under a revised Justice Ministry notification that is set to take effect Thursday, foreign graduates will be able to work at restaurants, retail shops and factory production lines under the Designated Activities status of residence.

Up to now, such graduates have usually acquired the Engineer/Specialist in Humanities/International Services visa to work in fields such as engineering and accounting, according to the Immigration Services Agency.

The status has not permitted work in the services sector and at factories on the grounds that they are irrelevant to their expertise. But the agency has now decided to allow holders of the Designated Activities visa to engage in such work.

Under the plan, the revised Designated Activities visa will be issued on condition that the students will be ensured full-time employment and equal or higher wages compared with Japanese colleagues. They must also have a high level of Japanese-language proficiency.

Prior to the change, the Designated Activities visa has been issued to people such as those serving as household employees for diplomats.

The latest move comes as domestic companies are seeking to hire foreign workers with strong Japanese-language abilities on the back of a surge in the number of foreign tourists to the country.

The agency believes that the expanded job opportunities will boost the number of foreign workers in the country by thousands a year.

Japan is stepping up efforts to bring in more workers from abroad to cope with a chronic labor shortage due to the country’s rapidly graying population and low birthrate. New visa statuses were introduced last month to bring in blue-collar workers to labor-hungry sectors.