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Like all other countries, Japan has a number of foreigners living and working in the country doing all kinds of jobs, from the assembly of components on factory floors to important service jobs, and the Japanese economy couldn’t function without their (our) contribution. Currently, Japan’s government is proposing changes to the immigration law to make it easier for certain semi-skilled foreign workers to work in Japan due to a huge labor shortage.
Currently, there are five types of foreigners working in Japan:
- Those with special technical skills and knowledge, which covers English teachers, businessmen, web developers and so on. A 4-year degree is always needed for this visa. The foreign staff of J-List fall into this category.
- People living in Japan due to their legal status, like spouses of Japanese citizens and “special permanent foreign residents” which means Japan-born Koreans and Chinese who choose to not take Japanese citizenship for cultural or historical reasons.
- Trainees under an intern program that ostensibly provides training on farms and other jobs, but has a lot of issues.
- People doing certain jobs with a special visa status, like caregivers working via certain programs, or “working holiday” exchanges.
- Students here on student visas, who can also work a limited number of hours.
The proposed changes will add two new tiers to this system: a “somewhat skilled” category of visa for certain industries, which would allow individuals to come to Japan for up to five years, and a “more skilled” category for people with a higher level of specific industry skill, who could bring in family members and choose to stay indefinitely if they meet certain conditions. Industries like construction and agriculture will likely be matches for these new kinds of visas.
My thoughts are as follows. Yes, Japan is in a dire situation and they need to address it aggressively. There are no robots who are going to magically appear to care for Japan’s ageing population, and asking people to work to the age of 85 isn’t going to be a solution either. Which means they need to come up with a wise immigration policy to let in foreigners to do the jobs that need doing. The proposed changes are hopefully a step in the right direction. Assisting to make new foreigners fit in more easily with Japanese society, and making them feel welcome so they’ll stay for long periods should be among the goals of the government.
Japan has a lot of serious problems, including its low birth rate which, at 1.44 births per female, is still higher than Portugal, Spain, Singapore and South Korea. A bigger problem, to my mind, is the extremely low level of entrepreneurial spirit in Japan, with far too few new companies being created. I’m more than a little proud of what I’ve been able to achieve with J-List: a successful business started by an American that’s provided many benefits to Japan, in form of taxes that I and our employees pay, which has helped Japanese content companies reach customers around the world. Perhaps Japan finally opening up to more foreigners can create some more of this positive energy in the future.
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You know what’s better than browsing awesome naughty doujinshi and full color “doujin artbooks” from J-List? Doing so during our EMS shipping sale, so you can buy a bunch of books and save 50% on the shipping. We posted a ton of new books for you today, so browse them all here.