Massive opportunity: Japan seeks over 800,000 foreign workers


TOKYO: In a move to tackle the country’s growing labor shortages, particularly in the transportation and logistics sectors, Japan is revamping its foreign worker visa program in a major first since 2019.

With a focus on alleviating the country’s shortage of drivers, the program now offers extended stays of up to five years. The expansion encompasses four key sectors: road and rail transport, as well as the forestry and timber industries.

The decision to broaden the visa program comes amidst various factors contributing to the rising demand for foreign workers in Japan, including a declining birth rate and shortages in transportation and logistics sectors.

By introducing these new regulations, the Japanese government hopes to tackle these deficiencies, with plans to limit overtime hours for drivers.

Under the revised skilled worker visa program, Japan aims to admit 820,000 foreigners over the next five fiscal years, starting in April. The government is set to review relevant regulations based on public opinion regarding the proposed reforms.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshimasa Hayashi has urged relevant ministers to facilitate the seamless integration of foreign workers into the workforce. Skilled foreigners will now have the opportunity to work in the transport sector, undertaking roles such as bus drivers, taxi drivers, and truck drivers, provided they are employed by certified companies.

To qualify for these positions, employees will need to demonstrate proficiency up to Level N3 in Japanese, particularly for roles involving passenger interaction. Additionally, skilled workers in the railway sector will have diverse opportunities, including roles in train car construction, track maintenance, driving, conducting, and station staffing.