Kyushu’s seven prefectures have examined a proposal, along with Okinawa and Yamaguchi, to develop National Strategic Special Zones that would relax work restrictions for international students and increase the number of hours they are permitted to work. The student visa currently permits 28 hours of work per week, but in these proposed special zones, educational institutions would allow an eight extra hours, meaning international students could work up to 36 hours a week.
These suggestions come in response to an increase in the number of students from developing countries having to work in order to cover tuition fees and living expenses. Local companies have been making the most out of this trend by employing these students to help fill major gaps in the labor force. Oita Prefecture, which has the most international students (university and technical college enrollees) per capita in the country, led a call for each prefecture to participate, with the aim of implementing the proposals before the end of the last fiscal year. Special measures could also be established to permit visa extensions for non-Japanese workers (other than international students) employed by small to medium-sized companies that are experiencing severe economic difficulties. National Strategy Special Zones are allowed to approve bold deregulatory measures in specific areas, and have become something of a pillar of the Abe administration’s strategy for growth.
New Era of Immigration in Kyushu
The number of workers from abroad, including international students and technical interns in Japan, exceeded one million for the first time last year. This group of people form an indispensable component of the workforce, irrespective of the government’s position on immigration. Read more installments from this series here.