To attract talented individuals and develop the country’s international workforce, the Japanese government introduced a point-based method for screening immigrants that gives preferential treatment to highly skilled professionals from abroad. The system awards points to applicants based on a range of factors, such as academic background. Preliminary statistics reveal that 229 people used this method to enter Japan in 2016. The system falls under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Justice, who confirmed that the number is low, and have stressed the need for the government to actively explore how to create an appealing and enticing environment for skilled overseas workers.
The government introduced the current point-based system in May 2012, during a time when competition to attract talented international workers began to intensify. A government official revealed that around 1,000 people were granted a visa through this system in the first year the measures went into effect, followed by 33 in 2013, 176 in 2014, 136 in 2015, and 229 in 2016. Overall, progress appears to be sluggish.
According to the Ministry of Justice, as of August 2016, there were 5,917 people in Japan who were recognized as highly skilled workers. This figure includes those who had already entered the country to study abroad before the new system went into effect. As such, although it appears the first half of their target to attract 5,000 highly skilled workers by 2017 and 10,000 by 2020 has been achieved, the actual number of people who have arrived since the revised measures went into effect is considerably lower.
An official from the Ministry of Justice’s Immigration Bureau said that they would like to see an increase in the number of highly skilled workers entering the country. In order to do so, it may be necessary to improve the current system and public relations. Fundamentally, a comprehensive, inclusive approach is needed to recruit talent from overseas.
Points-Based System for Highly Skilled Professionals Overview
A new points-based immigration system was introduced to attract highly skilled international professionals. The three categories that fall inside the system are defined as “advanced academic research activities,” “advanced specialized/technological activities,” and “advanced business management activities.” Applicants are evaluated on their academic background, employment history, and annual salary. Points are awarded if an individual meets various different criteria, including 30 points to those who have acquired a doctoral degree (in certain fields) and 50 points if your annual salary is more than 30 million yen. Applicants who score more than 70 points can apply for permanent resident status, with preferential treatment given to those whose spouses are working. In April of this year, it was announced that plans will be introduced, which would mean that those who score more than 80 will be able to apply for permanent residency within a year.
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Original article from Nishinippon Shimbun (4/12/2017).
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