The Immigration Services Agency said Friday that it will grant long-term residency to fourth-generation foreigners of Japanese descent from countries such as Brazil and Peru.

It will revise the residency status system to allow such people to effectively stay in Japan indefinitely, if they meet requirements such as having lived in Japan for at least five years and having a certain level of Japanese-language proficiency.

The revision, aimed at attracting such people to Japan amid labor shortages due to a decreasing population, will be implemented as early as Thursday.

"We'll ease the requirements so that more people can come to Japan," Justice Minister Ryuji Koizumi told a news conference.

The current system for fourth-generation descendants was introduced in 2018 so that such people can study the Japanese language and culture while working.

The program grants the so-called designated activities visa enabling such people to work, if they are between the ages of 18 and 30 when they enter Japan and if they are supported by relatives.

Although the agency had expected that 4,000 such people would use the program per year, the number of users living in Japan at the end of 2022 stood at just 128, prompting calls for a revamp.

Under the revised system, fourth-generation people will be able to change their residency status to long-term resident after living in Japan for five years, as long as they have at least the N2 certificate, the second-highest level in the Japanese-Language Proficiency Test, or equivalent language skills.

They will also be allowed to bring family members from their home countries.

The agency is also set to raise the age limit for the program to 35 at the time of entry. In addition, support from relatives will not be required for those who have lived in Japan for over three years.