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Japan to take Nepali workers under new blue-collar visas

- ANIL GIRI, Kathmandu
Japan has recently amended its immigration laws paving the way for blue-collar jobs for certain countries, including Nepal

Dec 26, 2018-Japan on Tuesday approved a new labour policy opening up its labour market to the deserving Nepali people under the blue-collar visas.

The new visa regime will come into effect from coming April, The Japan Times reported on Tuesday, saying that the cabinet’s approval of the new provision will bring a massive number of foreign blue-collar workers into the country adopted a package of policy measures that it says will provide greater support for those hoping to benefit from the new visa categories.

Japan has recently amended its immigration laws paving the way for blue-collar jobs for certain countries.

Under the revised immigration law, Japan will provide working visas for blue-collar foreign workers with certain skills and expertise for the first time in the country’s postwar history, as it deals with an acute labour shortage caused by the graying of its population, the Times report says.

Over the first five years, about 345,000 foreign workers will be allowed to work across 14 industrial sectors, including nursing care, janitorial work, manufacturing, the hotel industry, agriculture and fishing, as well as food processing and food services.

Workers are set to include those from China, Indonesia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Thailand, the Philippines and Vietnam.

In its revised immigration law that comes with new 126 measures, backed by a collective budget of ¥22.4 billion (approximately Rs22 billion) for the next fiscal year, are supplementary to the immigration control law that was revised earlier this month.

The measures include the establishment of about 100 consultation centres nationwide offering support in 11 languages: Japanese, English, Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, Spanish, Portuguese, Nepalese, Indonesian, Thai and Tagalog, the Times reported.

The Japanese government also pledged to introduce stricter screening processes to crack down on rogue brokers that exploit migrant foreign workers through debt-bondage.

The government is also allocating ¥600 million for a Japanese-language education programme for non-Japanese that will include a standardised curriculum and textbooks.

Also on Tuesday, the government adopted policy guidelines for the new visa categories. Under those guidelines, the government is obliged to take “necessary measures” so that foreign workers will not “excessively concentrate in major urban areas,” the newspapaer said.

Many ruling politicians fear foreign workers may shun rural areas and flock to Tokyo once they are granted working visas under the new system.

Unlike the existing technical trainee program, often criticized for exploitation of foreign workers, newcomers on the new visas will be directly hired by their employers.

They will be also be allowed to change jobs if certain conditions are met.

Japan plans to spend ¥3.4 billion on Japanese language education overseas, the news report says, as part of the programme, it will introduce a computer-based testing system, giving foreign nationals a chance to test their abilities.

Foreign workers will be encouraged to enrol in the national health insurance program, which covers a portion of medical expenses, but the government noted that it will also take steps to prevent abuse of the programme.

The new visa categories allow foreign workers age 18 or older to apply for two new residency statuses. The first type is for people who will engage in work that requires a certain level of knowledge and experience, while the second type is for work that requires higher skill levels.

Published: 26-12-2018 08:08

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