Japanese govt. eyes adding 4 new sectors to specified skilled worker program

The Japanese government is considering adding four more sectors to be covered under the specified skilled worker program in an effort to accept more foreign workers in the fields suffering from a serious labor shortage.

Officials presented the plan to the ruling Liberal Democratic Party on Thursday. Those industries to be newly added to the program will be auto transportation, railroad, forestry and timber.

Specifically, the government has bus, taxi and truck drivers in mind for the auto transportation sector, and train operators, station staff and maintenance workers for the railroad sector. The government aims to approve the plan at a Cabinet meeting next month.

The status of specified skilled worker No. 1 category is given to non-Japanese workers who are recognized to have expert skills. Those with the status can stay in Japan for up to five years. Currently, the category covers 12 fields, such as nursing care, construction and agriculture.

If the plan is realized, it will be the first time new fields have been added to the program since the system was introduced.

In connection with foreign workers in Japan, the government plans to abolish the current system for foreign technical trainees and switch to a new program. It would be applied to the same sectors that are covered under the specified skilled worker program.

SOURCE: https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20240222_33/