Japan has long been a dream destination of many Filipinos, with some hoping that the whole family can live there permanently. Well, here's some good news: it recently announced plans to ease its visa policy on foreign nationals working in certain sectors.
The country plans to allow foreign nationals "in certain blue-collar jobs to stay indefinitely starting as early as the 2022 fiscal year," a Justice Ministry official in Japan announced, according to a report released by Reuters.
Analysts consider this as a "major policy shift." Prior to this, a 2019 law mandated that workers under the category of "specified skilled workers" in 14 sectors can only be given a visa with five-year validity and they cannot bring family members with them, except for those working in the construction and shipbuilding sectors.
The 14 sectors mentioned included nursing care, welding, construction, aircraft maintenance, restaurant and hospitality services, farming, and other blue-collar work.
A top Japanese official, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno, however, made a clarification in a news conference that the change in visa policy for foreign workers has nothing to do with getting a permanent residency status.
The more welcoming policy for foreign workers in Japan comes at the heels of "acute labor shortage given its dwindling and aging population," Reuters wrote. This is why a Japanese think tank believes it's about time for such a policy change.
"As the shrinking population becomes a more serious problem and if Japan wants to be seen as a good option for overseas workers, it needs to communicate that it has the proper structure in place to welcome them," Toshihiro Menju, managing director of think tank Japan Center for International Exchange, told Reuters.
Companies in Japan have also cited the restrictions imposed under the 2019 law as "among reasons they were hesitant to hire such help" from foreign workers.
If this new policy pushes through in 2022, it would really mean a new year, new life for many foreign workers in Japan. And who knows maybe for you and your family too.
Click here to read about what it's like living as Filipino family immigrant in Japan.