Hi Blog. In a move that may be heralding the fundamentals of an actual Japanese immigration policy (something I was told back in November the DPJ was not considering), the primary ministries in charge of bringing in, registering, and policing NJ (traditionally MOJ, MEXT, and MHLW) are apparently beavering away at a “points system” for allowing in people with a skill set, modeled on other countries’ immigration policies. On the other hand, people who have gotten preferential visa treatment in the past (by dint of having Japanese blood and not necessarily much else) are going to see their opportunities narrow (they’ll have higher hurdles and be tested on their acculturation).
I might say this is good news or a step in the right direction (if you want an immigration policy, it’s good to say what kind of immigrants you want), but it’s too early to tell for two reasons: 1) We have to see how realistic this “points list” is (if it’s even made public at all; not a given in Japan’s control-freak secretive ministries) when it materializes. 2) There still is no accommodation for assimilation of peoples (I don’t see any Japanese language courses, assistance with credit and housing, faster tracks to naturalization, and heaven forbid anything outlawing NJ discrimination!). Just a longer tenure for you to make your own ends meet without being booted out after three or so years.
Given the GOJ’s record at designing policies that make Japan’s labor market pretty hermetic (including ludicrous requirements for Permanent Residency, unreasonable “up-or-out” hurdles for NJ such as health-care workers, and bribes to send unwanted workers “home”), at this stage I don’t see how this is necessarily anything different from the “revolving door” labor market pretty much already in place, except with higher value-added workers this time.
Maybe I’m just getting too cynical. But let’s wait and see. Arudou Debito in Sapporo
“Point system planned for immigration policy”
Asahi Shinbun Jan 20, 2010, Courtesy of Yokohama John
To prepare for the expected population decline, the Justice Ministry plans to welcome highly educated professional foreign workers, but it will make entry tougher for descendants of Japanese.
The planned new immigration policy, based on a point system, is intended to maintain Japan’s future economic growth by taking in more skilled foreigners, such as researchers, doctors, lawyers and entrepreneurs.
These measures were featured in a report submitted Tuesday to Justice Minister Keiko Chiba by an advisory group on immigration control policy. The group, the fifth of its kind, is chaired by Tsutomu Kimura, an adviser at the education ministry.
The Justice Ministry is expected to review the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Law and related laws and ordinances, and submit a revision bill to the Diet as early as next year.
A point system for skilled workers has already been introduced in countries like Britain and Canada.
By grading would-be workers in Japan based on their education levels, professional skills, qualifications, work experience, incomes and other criteria, the Justice Ministry will recognize those above a certain level as highly skilled workers.
Those recognized will receive preferential treatment, such as longer periods of stay in Japan, as well as permanent residency status after five years of living in Japan, instead of the usual 10.
But the ministry plans to establish more rigorous entry requirements for foreign nationals of Japanese descent.
At the request of the business community in need of labor, the immigration control law was revised in 1990 to grant residence status–without employment restrictions–to second- and third-generation Japanese. That led to a steady inflow of unskilled workers, mainly from Brazil and Peru.
But now, unemployment has become a serious problem among these nikkeijin, as manufacturers have closed factories amid dwindling demand in the struggling economy.
In admitting foreign citizens of Japanese descent, the Justice Ministry plans to require “an ability to make a living in Japan on their own” by, for example, having secured employment beforehand.
The ministry later intends to demand of the nikkeijin “a certain level of proficiency in the Japanese language” through a certification exam or other measures.
Original Japanese follows: