The revised Immigration Control Act aimed at increasing foreign acceptance was passed early morning on December 8. In the plenary meeting of House of Councillors 161 votes were in favor of this law whereas 76 votes were in opposition. The law was passed with majority winning the decision and will come into effect from next year’s April.
The current revision to the law of opening doors to foreigners in the field of unskilled labor which the government has not acknowledged so far, would be a major policy change in Japan’s foreign acceptance policy. Under the revised Immigration Control Act, 2 types of resident status will be granted to cope up with the labor shortage occurring due to low birthrate and longevity. The acceptance of foreign workers would be increased.
Particularly, the resident status “For a specific skill” will be further classified into 2 types. Status with “Skills that require considerable knowledge or experience” will be classified as “Type 1”. “Type 1” can be obtained by completing Technical internship training program for up to 5 years or by having specialized skills and passing the Japanese Language Proficiency Test. Also, the current Technical interns can obtain “Type 1” status without appearing for the exam if they have completed apprenticeship for 3 years or more.
The period of stay for Type 1 would be of aggregate 5 years and accompanying family members will not be accepted. This type would particularly include 14 types of industries such as Nursing and Care, Agriculture, Construction, Lodging and Accommodation, Food Service Industry etc. where human labor shortage is significant.
Moreover, if a person has passed advanced exams and has specialized knowledge and skills, he would be qualified for “Type 2” permit that can be renewed every 1 to 3 years. As there are no restrictions on the number of renewals, practically; one can obtain permanent residence in Japan and family members can be accompanied.
The government assumes a maximum of 345,000 foreign acceptances within next 5 years for Type 1 status. Further details on the number of people to be accepted and types of industries will be clearly stated in the policy that would be announced within the year.
Regarding the votes for current revisions to the Immigration Control Act, there is a backlash from the Opposition party over various points like the number of people accepted, target industries, ways to determine skills etc. These points comprise essential details of the system that remain unclear. Due to reasons like frequent problems with technical interns and lack of appropriate deliberations there was relentless opposition from the Opposition party.
As the detailed planning of the system is entrusted to government ordinance for the amended law, this point seems to be the focus of discussion in next year’s regular Diet session for enforcement of this law in next year’s April.