The Yomiuri ShimbunThe government plans to create a qualification that will allow foreign nationals to work in Japan, and effectively reside permanently in the country, in at least four industries: construction; shipbuilding and marine equipment; automobile maintenance; and aviation, according to sources.
This qualification, called category 2 status with specific skills (see below), is expected to enable foreign workers to take supervisory positions in their fields, the sources said. There are 10 industries being considered for such status, but the fisheries, nursing care and agricultural fields will be excluded for the time being.
The government submitted a bill to the current extraordinary Diet session to revise the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Law to allow foreign nationals to work in fields involving simple labor.
The aim is to newly establish two types of residence status for those with specific skills — category 1 and category 2.
People who qualify for category 1 will need to pass two tests — the Japanese language proficiency test for Japanese daily conversation, and another to test knowledge about the profession they will be engaged in. The government is considering establishing the category 1 status in 14 industries.
Concerning the category 2 status, which requires higher skills than category 1, the government has been considering not applying the status to all 14 industries. Instead it has been examining the possibility of narrowing down the number of eligible industries by taking into account requests from each industry and their business environments.
According to a government source, the government decided the four industries that suffer from chronic labor shortages will have category 2 status because they are unable to sustain their operations without foreign supervisors at their working sites. Japanese employees alone cannot fill the vacancies.
Regarding fisheries and agriculture, the government was initially considering allowing category 2 workers to work as fishing boat captains or agricultural corporation operators, among other higher-skilled jobs.
However, “there was no demand from the industry groups and relevant entities,” the government source said.
In the nursing care sector, the residence status for people engaged in highly specialized or technical fields was expanded to include foreign workers with a national qualification of “certified care worker,” a change based on the revised Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Law, which came into effect in 2017. The government judged that foreign workers can be allowed to work in Japan’s nursing care sector without establishing a category 2 status for them.
The government has been making final arrangements about whether to create a category 2 status for seven sectors: food and beverage manufacturing; eating out; building cleaning; processing raw materials; manufacturing industrial machinery; industries related to electronic and electric devices; and accommodation. The decision will be finalized soon.
The government plans to pass a bill to revise the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Law in the current Diet session and aims to implement the new system from April next year.
The government was initially expecting to start deliberations on the bill on Thursday. Now, however, it intends to postpone them to Nov. 13 due to disagreement from opposition parties.
Business sectors subject to category 1 and category 2 status will be stipulated in a Justice Ministry ordinance after the Diet passes the legislation.
■ Category 2 status with specific skills
Residence status that will enable foreign nationals who are recognized to have considerable skill in their fields to effectively stay in Japan, on the condition they undergo regular screenings. Such individuals can bring spouses and children into the country. Category 2 workers will be required to pass more difficult tests than people with category 1 status. The Japanese language proficiency test will not be given in the advanced category since it is already required for category 1. Speech