Japan’s new foreign labour law aimed at easing worker shortages takes effect

Japan’s new foreign labour law aimed at easing worker shortages takes effect

Effective today, a new law in Japan will grant new residence status to foreign workers countrywide. The law will allow

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Photo: Reuters

Effective today, a new law in Japan will grant new residence status to foreign workers countrywide.

The law will allow foreign workers possessing certain expertise and skills to be granted the status of “Specified Skilled Worker”. Specifically, workers that have specialisations in health care, building maintenance, food services, industrial machinery and agriculture will qualify for the new status. The new status will raise the wages of foreign workers to parity or higher levels than their local counterparts.

With the new status, some 350,000 jobs in Japan will open to foreign nationals. Of this, Filipino workers are expected to earn more than a third of the share alone. Almost 300,000 Filipinos reside in Japan. While the Filipino community in the country is only the fourth-largest foreign community, it consists of the greatest foreign labour work force in Japan.

The new law’s impact will be measured in part by the extent to which the labour status displaces Japanese workers sharing the same skill set. Japan has historically been a considerably isolationist country, always cautious about immigration. If the job displacement effects prove substantial, the consequences will likely be felt in domestic Japanese politics, which could see rise to a political movement of discontented Japanese skilled workers calling for anti-immigrant policies in Japan.

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