Shogo Kodama, Nikkei Asian Review, June 10, 2019
Japan is bringing in more foreign workers to help address a labor shortage, and the government wants to make sure Tokyo and other major cities are not the only places that benefit from the additional manpower.
The government has introduced a policy package aimed at getting an expected wave of foreign workers to understaffed businesses in rural areas. Japan plans to accept 340,000 workers from overseas over five years under a new visa program.
The country is suffering a labor crunch in sectors like construction, hospitality and nursing care. The problem is particularly acute in the countryside as more workers leave for the higher wages in Tokyo and other cities.
Under the new proposals, local governments and Hello Work public job-placement offices will work together to help short-handed small local companies hire foreign workers. The central government will also provide financial support to local governments that are helping nursing care services employ foreign caregivers.
The new policy package also features measures aimed at making life a bit easier for newly arriving foreign workers.
An existing system that provides subsidies for local governments with counseling services for foreign workers will be expanded, and a new integrated information service for foreign workers will be established. Various government organizations will also see their services integrated into new one-stop centers.
Foreign students studying in Japan will also be covered by some of the new measures. Universities that lose track of many foreign students will be denied permission to accept additional overseas students and face cuts in government subsidies.