Japan Issuing New Work Permit to Attract More Foreign Workers

Japan’s government is planning to issue a new work permit in a bid to increase the number of foreign workers. The initiative will address the country’s severe labor shortage that is impacting several business sectors, especially smaller businesses outside of large metropolitan areas. Japan will also permit the entry of unskilled laborers, who have not previously been able to obtain work permits.

Which business sectors does the new work permit cover?

Japan has at least five severely undermanned business sectors. Agriculture, construction, and nursing care make up the largest share of the labor shortage. Adding to the labor shortages are several 2020 Tokyo Olympic construction projects.

Why does Japan need this initiative?

Currently, many employees in Japan often work extensive overtime hours, to the point of physical and mental exhaustion. Additionally, Japan’s working-age population of people between the ages of 15 and 64 will drop by 15 million between this fiscal year and fiscal 2040.

What does the initiative entail?

There may be two methods for foreign workers to acquire the new work permit:

  1. Foreign workers can complete the Technical Intern Training Program, which lasts up to five years. Participants currently must return home at the end of the program. However, the government wants to let them use their new skills in Japan, so that requirement would change.
  1. Foreign workers can pass an exam on technical and Japanese language skills. Workers will need to be able to hold a basic conversation in Japanese. Some workers may receive approval with less proficiency (for example, workers in the agriculture and construction sectors).

The Japanese government understands that it must ensure foreign workers’ assimilation into the local culture. Language skills for foreign workers will help ensure they can integrate into Japanese society, and the government has sponsored Japanese language classes to assist foreign residents.

Working conditions for foreign workers are another government concern. The government will require that foreign workers be paid the same as Japanese workers, and receive the same fair and equal treatment in the workplace. Japan’s “My Number” tax and social security identification system will be revised to track foreign workers and ensure they are not being forced to put in more work hours than the mandated cap allows.

What should employers expect with this change?

When the government in Japan develops the new work permit and related program features, employers should expect greater access to an available pool of foreign workers entering the country for employment opportunities. Employers should also expect the incoming workers might need assistance with language training and assimilating into the Japanese culture.

What should employers do?

Employers should review their hiring plans for foreign workers in Japan to determine their eligibility with these changes. They should also monitor the Japanese government’s progress on creating the new work permit and related program features to determine timeframes for adding foreign workers, what their organizations need to do, and scheduling future projects.


Global Mobility Solutions’ team of global relocation experts has helped thousands of our clients with country-specific employment and visa requirements. We can help your company understand how to gain the most benefit from Japan’s new work permit. Learn best practices from Global Mobility Solutions, the relocation industry and technology experts who are dedicated to keeping you informed and connected. Contact our experts online or give us a call at 800.617.1904 or 480.922.0700 today.

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