Japan Relocation: Opening Doors?
Posted by: Covan Tai, Supply Chain Manager, Singapore
After a flurry of countries tightening their immigration borders, making the mobility of foreign talent for businesses more challenging, Japan for one, seems to be going against this current trend.
Japan’s rapidly aging population is probably one of the worst kept secrets in the world and is unlikely to change anytime soon. While more countries (e.g., United States, United Kingdom, Australia and Singapore) are reviewing their immigration provisions, Japan, on the other hand, despite its apparent resistance to foreign manpower for many years, needs expatriates more than ever to address increased labour shortages.
The Japan Immigration Bureau recently shortened residency requirements for permanent residency for foreign professionals to three years, or one year depending on their eligibility based on their score in the points-based system. Before this change, a window period of four and a half years applied before a foreign professional could be eligible for permanent residency.
With the 2020 Tokyo Olympics plainly in sight, the possibility of increasing the availability of work visas, particularly for middle-skilled positions in certain industries, may be real. The recent business outlook survey by the Ministry of Finance for the period July to September 2017 showed corporations’ increasing confidence for continued economic growth.
Referencing the Immigration Bureau of Japan’s Immigration Control Report 2016, statistics showed the number of foreign nationals entering Japan with a status of residence for employment in professional or technical fields in 2015 was 77,972, an increase of 16.2% from 2014. In the same report, statistics also showed the number of mid- to long-term residents, and the number of special permanent residents at the end of 2015, increased by 5.2% compared to 2014. The status of permanent residents also increased steadily between the end of 2011 and the end of 2015. With the sentiments and numbers pointing to a more liberal acceptance of foreign manpower, Japan’s gradual shift is a welcoming approach in the ever changing immigration landscape.
What You Need to Know About Relocating to Japan
- The residency changes should benefit foreign professionals on their Permanent Residence application filings, which in turn could position Japan as an attractive destination for organizations to place foreign employees and retain highly-skilled foreign talent.
- Public peace and safety in Japan is well known and warmly welcomed by foreigners.
- Japan adopts a universal healthcare system, which also includes dental treatment as well as general medical treatment. It is mandatory for people who stay in Japan for more than three months to apply for either National Health Insurance or Employee’s Health Insurance.
- Although residency requirements are changing, the language barrier remains an issue, particularly for families.
- Japan may also need to address the long working hours that are common versus Western nations.