On June 10th the government held a meeting with relevant ministries and agencies on the issue of accepting new foreign workers and indicated additional measures for improving the working environment. The main concern is avoiding the urban areas concentration of people with the new status of residence ‘category 1 specified skills’ which began this April. Local governments and HelloWork will cooperate to provide information on more local job offers. Improving the treatment of technical interns and making sure that salaries are transferred by bank account are among the measures that are to be made obligatory.
This is in effort to expand the comprehensive measures for better inclusion of new foreign workers, which were decided upon last December. The final measures will be decided at the relevant ministerial meeting soon, and they will be included in the basic policy of economic and fiscal management to be decided in late June. This will also be reflected in the fiscal 2020 budget, and a revised version of the measures will be prepared by the end of the year.
There are 14 industries included under the ‘specified skills’, one of them being the construction sector in which the testing organization of specific skills will provide information on local job vacancies for foreign workers. The nursing care sector will provide financial support to local governments that introduce human resources to nursing care facilities.
Moreover, the procedure for switching to Japanese driver’s license will become available in several languages. In rural areas, transport can be inconvenient and driving a car is very often necessary. Making it easier to switch licenses is one more measure that can encourage employment in rural areas.
Support for the improvement of the living environment will also be provided. In fiscal 2020, a 「外国人共生センター」(“Foreigner Support Center”) will be established in Tokyo to respond to consultations from local governments, companies and foreigners throughout the country. Consultations on laws, visas and employment will be consolidated in this one center.
There has been a continued effort to improve the treatment of technical interns and trainees. Companies will be required to transfer salaries to bank accounts and to facilitate monitoring of the work conditions. This comes in response to a series of problems with the disappearance of trainees due to nonpayment of wages and low wages. In fact, there are also proposed measures to prevent “migrant foreign exchange students” whose actual purpose is to work. It will be recommended that universities with many foreign students whose location is unknown should not be accredited and private research grants should be reduced. Illegal residence and illegal work after the expiration of a student visa should be prevented and strictly enforced.