new law, more flexibility for foreign workers

The law approved by the Diet surpasses the current placement system, which encourages abuses. A new attempt to combat the labor shortage. The greatest flexibility is given by the reduction of times and favored access to qualified positions: it will allow the abandonment of poorly paid and discriminatory positions.

Tokyo () – After the extension of the status of “specific skilled worker” on March 29 to four more areas of the world, which allows access to the placement program to more than 800 thousand new workers, yesterday the National Diet Japan approved a new law that guarantees greater flexibility and longer stays for migrants who wish to find work in the country. The new rule will come into force within three years after its promulgation. Measures like these help counteract the demographic winter that Japan has been experiencing for years and results in a growing labor shortage.

The new system for placing foreign workers will replace the one currently in use, a thirty-year training program for interns, which has provoked much criticism because it does not protect the most vulnerable workers, encouraging exploitation. Under the new system, workers can stay in Japan for three years. After that time they can apply for the status of “class 1” qualified worker, which extends their stay up to a maximum of five more years. In this way, access to the category of more qualified workers is simplified. To obtain this specific status, it is necessary to meet certain requirements for competence and knowledge of the Japanese language, which is necessary in an increasingly multicultural society in which there are numerous social obstacles to promote integration.

However, the new jurisprudence does not eliminate the existing restrictions regarding the transfer of family members to Japan, which prevents family reunification during the first eight years of the worker’s stay in the country. Critical observers maintain that the current program functions only to fill the void of low-cost, unskilled labor, while facilitating human rights abuses and violations. To address these grim implications, the new system will allow workers to change jobs within the same sector after one or two years of employment. This flexibility will allow them to abandon discriminatory and poorly paid positions.

The bill also includes controversial provisions that would revoke permanent resident status for those who refuse to pay taxes or Social Security premiums. This provision has raised concerns about the potential impact on long-term foreign residents, including generations of Koreans and Chinese who have permanent residence in Japan.

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