National

3,000 people to work in Japan under expanded visa system

JIJI

Over 3,000 foreign laborers are set to work under new visas introduced in April, the leader of the Immigration Services Agency said.

The agency envisions starting a public certification system for dedicated supporters of foreign people, Commissioner Shoko Sasaki, 57, said in a recent interview.

The Immigration Services Agency has been required to play the additional role of supporting foreign residents since a new status for foreign workers with designated skills was introduced, Sasaki said.

Many have been allowed to work under a provisional measure while waiting to receive the status, a process that has been delayed by slow procedures, she said.

In addition, many applications have been filed for change of visa and for residency status certifications by people living overseas, she continued.

If all of these cases are added up, the number exceeds 1,300, she said, citing data as of Aug. 16.

Furthermore, more than 2,000 people have passed industry-specific tests for the new status, according to the commissioner.

“Foreigners with the designated skills are expected to increase steadily,” Sasaki said.

Sasaki denied foreign workers are overconcentrated in urban areas, saying applications are accepted and technical intern training provided nationwide.

Under the expanded visa system, business and other entities as well as individuals have registered as support organizations for foreign people hoping to work in Japan under the new visa status, including workers with relatively low skills.

The registered organizations are obliged to secure proper employment and give adequate support to their customers, she said.

This is the first time for the immigration authority to make such support an obligation, according to Sasaki.

“We took care to create a system in which foreign workers have someone to turn to,” she said.

“I think it would be great if there is a dedicated profession to support foreigners as infrastructure of a society where foreigners will continue to increase,” Sasaki said.

If the system of publicly certifying the profession “works well, it may become a key feature of Japan’s foreign worker admission policy,” she added.

Immigration agency officials have talked about the possibility of creating such a system, according to Sasaki.

But for now, the priority is to foster support organizations registered under the current system, she said.