- 1 Changes in the Number of Foreign Workers
- 2 Classification of Status of Residence
- 2.1 Appended Table 1-1 of the Immigration Control Act
- 2.2 Appended Table 1-2 of the Immigration Control Act
- 2.3 Appended Table 1-3 of the Immigration Control Act
- 2.4 Appended Table 1-4 of the Immigration Control Act
- 2.5 Appended Table 1-5 of the Immigration Control Act
- 2.6 Appended Table 2 of the Immigration Control Act
Changes in the Number of Foreign Workers
Due to the significant decrease in the number of workers in Japan, the shortage of workers has become extremely serious. Even those companies that have secured workers at this point in time face increasingly serious labor problems due to the shortage of workers, such as how to replace retiring workers due to the aging of the workforce and how to pass on skills due to the shortage of younger employees. The government is considering ways to address labor shortages by hiring older workers, employing women, and promoting technological innovation through the promotion of information technology. However, the labor shortage in various industrial fields cannot be overcome by these measures alone, and the government intends to compensate for the inevitable shortage by allowing the employment of foreign workers. Statistics on the number of foreign workers in Japan are available from the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare. According to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, there were 1,278,670 foreign workers as of 2017, and it is believed that the number will be 1,500,000 by fiscal 2019. The number of foreign workers is increasing by more than 100,000 each year, and the upward trend seems to be further accelerated.
The Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act (the “Immigration Act”), which went into effect on April 1, 2019, allows for a new residency status, the system of specified skills. Currently, the number of foreigners who will be allowed to enter Japan under the specified skills is said to be 345,000, which means that 350,000 workers will be added to the current 1.5 million, which will be 1.85 million workers alone. If we consider the increase in the number of foreign workers as before, the era of 2 million foreign workers is just around the corner. The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare classifies foreign workers according to the following categories. They are roughly divided into (1) activities other than those permitted under the status of residence, (2) technical training, (3) status of residence in a specialized or technical field, and (4) status of residence based on status. The 350,000 persons with the specified technical status of residence are to be added to these categories as a result of the recent revision of the Immigration Control Act.
Classification of Status of Residence
Foreign nationals must have a status of residence in order to work or live in Japan. The status of residence is described in the Appended Table of the Immigration Control Act, which is broadly outlined as follows.
Appended Table 1-1 of the Immigration Control Act
This is a status of residence for diplomacy, official business, professors, art, religion, and the press, and is referred to as “work permit status. They are allowed to engage in income-generating activities only with the status of residence that allows them to engage in such activities.
Appended Table 1-2 of the Immigration Control Act
The status of residence stipulated in Annexed Table 1-2 of the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act includes: Highly Specialized Professionals, Business Administration, Legal/Accounting, Medical Care, Research, Education, Technical/Humanities/International Services, Intra-company Transfers, Nursing, Entertainment, Technical Skills, Designated Skills, and Technical Intern Training. These are referred to as “work-related qualifications,” which allow the holder to work only in the designated job. The most common of these are the status of residence for technical, humanities, and international services (approximately 250,000 people), technical internship status (approximately 260,000 people), and special skilled trainee status (approximately 350,000 people are expected in the future).
Appended Table 1-3 of the Immigration Control Act
Cultural Activities and Temporary Visitor status. Cultural Activities is a status of residence granted to researchers of Japanese culture, etc. and temporary Visitor is a status of residence for the purpose of staying in Japan for a short period of time as a tourist, conference participant, etc. Since these visas are non-working visas, those who enter Japan with these visas are not allowed to work in Japan in a position that will generate income.
Appended Table 1-4 of the Immigration Control Act
This is the status of residence for College Student, Trainee, and Family Visitor. College Student is for students of Japanese universities, vocational schools, Japanese language schools, etc. Training is for foreigners who are coming to Japan for the purpose of training. Family Visa is a foreigner who enters the country as a family member of a person who has a status of residence that allows one of the family members to accompany him or her. The status of residence of College Student, Trainee, and Family Resident is essentially a non-working status, and foreigners with these visas are prohibited from engaging in remunerative work in Japan; however, if they obtain permission to engage in activities other than that permitted under the status of residence, they may engage in remunerative activities within the scope of that permission. When foreign students are used as part-timers, they are required to work based on this permission.
Appended Table 1-5 of the Immigration Control Act
The status of residence for specified activities includes domestic servants such as diplomats, working holidays, interns who receive remuneration, sushi chefs and manga artists through Cool Japan, etc. This is a work limited work permit status, which allows the holder to work only with respect to the designated activities. Foreign students who have graduated from a Japanese university or vocational school and are seeking employment can also legally engage in job hunting activities by obtaining the status of residence for specified activities.
Appended Table 2 of the Immigration Control Act
There are four types of status of residence based on status of residence: Permanent Resident, Spouse or Child of Japanese National, Spouse or Child of Permanent Resident, and Permanent Resident. Status/position-based status is unrestricted work status, which allows those with this status to work freely and earn income without any restrictions on the type of work they can do. There are no restrictions on the duties they can perform or the hours they can work. They can work in exactly the same way as Japanese workers. Recruitment activities are not different from those for Japanese workers, such as posting at Hello Work or recruiting through recruitment matching websites such as Riku Navi.