Sankei: MOJ proposes easier visas for importing “higher quality” NJ labor; neglects to offer NJ stronger civil or labor rights


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Hi Blog.  The Sankei reports on May 25 that the Ministry of Justice will be loosening some of its strictures on NJ visas (the Sankei uses the word nohouzu in its headline; I’m not 100% sure of the nuance but it sounds like “a wild and endless expansion of favorable treatment regarding NJ entry visas”; rather snotty, but that’s the Sankei for ya).

The new Immigration policy is directed at NJ with very high skills (koudo jinzai — a good idea) and their families (who will also be allowed to work; wow, that’s a change!), will have a points system for evaluation (another good idea), will offer longer visa periods (5 years), and will loosen the specificity between work visas.  It’s being touted as a means to make Japan more appealing to NJ labor (you had better!).

Sounds like a step in the right direction.  But it’s still 中途半端.  What’s missing is GOJ guaranteeing some degree of protection of labor and civil rights after NJ get here.  And what about qualifications?  Just try practicing law, medicine, or most other licensed skills in Japan now without going through the rigmarole of domestic certification, with walls so high (cf. the NJ nurses from Indonesia and The Philippines over the past few years) that almost all NJ applicants fail (and, magically, have to return home as usual after three years, just like any other revolving-door “Trainee” or “Researcher” NJ laborer).

This isn’t the first time a points system etc. has been floated (only to die the death of a thousand meddling bureaucrats) either.  I guess the mandarins are realizing what a fix Japan is in without NJ labor.  But if this kind of policy is going to happen at all, the almighty MOJ has to be the one proposing it.  Then perhaps the waters will part for Moses.  Let’s wait and see.

But this is on balance “good” news.  But not “great” news unless the GOJ also does something to force domestic actors to treat NJ nicely.  Which is doubtful.  Arudou Debito


産經新聞 2011.5.25 01:30, Courtesy of KG













12 comments on “Sankei: MOJ proposes easier visas for importing “higher quality” NJ labor; neglects to offer NJ stronger civil or labor rights

  • I side with immigration on this one, and I agree, this is good news, but as usual the bureaucrats have not thought this through from the point of view of those who may come here.

  • But will it still only be the usual 1 year contract jobs on offer? Can’t exactly see this high quality NJ labor beating down the doors to get in…………

    — Quite. Which brings me to the point of this blog entry: Lowering the gates only helps if there is some support for helping entrants assimilate once inside. Allowing NJ to bring their families over with working privileges is a new and promising development. But if NJ find themselves with the same old glass ceilings and inabilities to improve their career path here, ultimately it’s still going to be a dead-end job compared to possibilities elsewhere. I’m questioning just how competitive these apparently open-minded moves by the GOJ will actually be in the end. I don’t think the MOJ has thought this through that far, or in conjunction with other ministries to create an actual immigration and assimilation policy. That’s an enormous blind spot with a huge potential for broken promises and dashed dreams.

  • Kakui Kujira says:

    Actually, a non-Japanese person cannot practice law in Japan even if he/she goes “through the rigmarole of domestic certification” becuase there is none for a non-Japanese person. A non-Japanese person cannot pratice law in Japan. He/she can study law, get a law degree but cannot practice law, as in represent someone in court.

    — S/he can if s/he passes the Japanese Bar exam, though, right? I have a friend who was trying to do that (but now practices overseas, don’t know if he’s given up). I remember it made news headlines when a Zainichi actually accomplished this back I think in the 1960’s (as was mentioned in his obit when he died some years back). So again, matter of certification.

  • Rock Racing says:

    Sounds a lot like the UK visa system (Tier 2 skilled worker category. A points system that factors in language ability, salary level for any job being offered, highest level of education completed, etc. On balance, I think it’s quite reasonable and a welcome development.

    [Just try practicing law, medicine, or most other licensed skills in Japan now without going through the rigmarole of domestic certification, with walls so high]

    Hmm, I have to disagree with this. I *want* my lawyers, nurses, doctors and other professionals to be pass the same exams. I want them to be fluent in Japanese. I passed my industry exams in Japan (including my driver’s license exam) in Japanese. I neither expected nor wanted any ‘exception’. I didn’t expect or want the bar lowered on my behalf. Ditto my Japanese colleagues, that have have passed overseas industry exams in English. Good luck trying to be a CPA in the US if you don’t read/write English. Can you imagine the uproar if god forbit some patient died because the caregiver didn’t understand what the patient was saying when asking for help?

    Nurses from overseas should pass the same exam given that anyone from Japan would need to pass. Caregivers should pass the same exam (if any?) that caregivers from Japan have to pass. Ditto lawyers, accountants, whatever.

    Now – I suppose there are areas of debate: Native Japanese caregivers, for example, are fluent in Japanese, but maybe they don’t necessarily need to be to be a caregiver? That’s a reasonable debate to have. But I don’t think it’s necessarily ‘unfair’ to demand tough exams if the exams are the same as what Japanese candidate would face.

    — We’ve debated this here in the past too. I wish you would read up on the archives, already.

  • Here we go again with the “points system.” We’ve been reading about this since at least 2009. When is it actually going to materialize? And when it materializes, are we actually going to know what the points are awarded for, or will it be some top secret internal thing that only immigration officers know?

  • James Annan says:

    Utterly meaningless IMO. Qualified people already get visas easily under the current system. It’s a distraction from the real issues (permanent positions and career advancement) which allows them to claim they are doing something useful without actually doing so.

  • I agree with James, those who are qualified will easily be awarded a visa anyway no? I fail to understand how this could possibly be anything but window dressing. Has it EVER been hard for those with high skills to enter Japan on a proper visa? I mean, considering the thousands upon thousands of Eikiaiwa kids who get sponsored and all with little trouble.

    Again as James sez, the larger issue is the problem of no real career advancement/ permanent positions for foreign residents (AND Japanese) employed at Japanese companies. This is something that I believe must first be addressed through a cultural change rather than some wishy washy gov. program.

    I feel like we need to bring up the idea of employers/gov. providing REAL incentives to keep their workers motivated (Japanese or foreign) and that largely, these incentives do not exist. Therefore, people go through the motions until they retire/change/jobs do it all again or just do an “acceptable”/ bare bones job until their time in Japan runs out. More than anything, I beleive that this is what contributes to the stagnation and the crushing stale apathy seen in seas of millions of grey, dispassionate faces. Mine included.

  • @Kakui Kujira

    As Debito says, there’s nothing to prevent you sitting for the bar exam. I know of one Chinese person who passed the Benrishi (Patent Attorney) bar exam.

    Also, as you probably know KK, you can become certified as a gaikokuho jimu bengoshi, although that qualification doesn’t give you much leeway to actually “practice law” in the full sense of the expression (as you seem to have hinted at), and from anecdotes I hear that the Japanese bureaucrats responsible for regulating your practice really get all up in your face to make sure that you operate completely within the strict confines of the license (which they don’t really do at all for normal Japanese lawyers, of course).

  • Kakui Kujira says:

    I once did a course as part of my job in Japan about negotiation skills. One of the chaps running was a US citizen who had a Japanese law degree. He told me he could not practice law as foreigners could not sit the bar exam. I may have been misinformed. Wish I could remember his name…

    — Sorry, you have been misinformed.

  • It seems the issue is housemaids.

    MoJ observes, “it is a hurdle that a beneficent foreigner cannot bring his family or his house maids”, and is considering the privilege to bring his parents, the parents of his spouse and his housemaids, as well as to receive work permit for his spouse.

    — Thanks.

  • Rock Racing says:

    1) In the UK the visa system essentially boils down to salary. Particularly from this year there are strict quotas on work permits for jobs paying less than GBP 150,000 (approx. Y20 million). No limit on jobs paying over Y20 million).

    There is a significant difference in nuance between the word the MoJ used (‘maid’) versus the reality: these aren’t maids, they are nannies or care givers that often live with the family to look after the small children and/or elderly family members. For families where both parents work, this is a preferred alternative (in the UK, anyway, and Hong Kong to an extent) to sending kids to daycare and the hassles it creates (pick up / drop off, etc) or putting family members in nursing homes.

    Saying ‘maids’ makes it sound like visas for the Rothchild’s and the hired help. More often than not it’s a double-income family paying for daycare/nursing care for family members during the week.

    Japan uses family members as free nursing care/daycare (wives, obviously – many who are forced to quit their jobs to be a caregiver at home, but also mother-in-laws/grandparents, sisters/daughters etc). Nothing wrong with that, and of course one could argue that having family members around all the time is a nice alternative. However, having seen several cases of difficult situations, particularly with elderly family members…suffice it to say I think the situation would have been better with the other family members able to get out of the house, with trained professionals giving the care. And that’s before we even get into the two major issues 1) Japan already faces a shortage of workers and a rock-bottom birth rate, and the implications that has for 2) the elderly needing to look after the very elderly…


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