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Article Japan: Foreign Caregivers Will Soon Be Able to Work in Japan

(Dec. 27, 2016) An amendment to the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act (Immigration Control Act) and a new law, the Act on Adjustment of Technical Training of Foreigners and Foreign Technical Trainees’ Protection (Technical Training Act), were promulgated in Japan on November 28, 2016. (Acts No. 88 & 89 of 2016, KANPO, Extra Edition No. 261 (Nov. 28, 2016), at 22, KANPO website (in Japanese).) The amendment and the new Act will be effective within one year of the promulgation date. (Act No. 88 of 2016, Supp. Provisions, art. 1; Act No. 89 of 2016, Supp. Provisions, art. 1.)

By 2025, all Japanese baby boomers (those born from 1947 through 1949) will be 75 years of age or older. The Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (MHLW) estimates that by that year there will be 20 million people who are 75 years of age or older, and there will be a shortage of caregivers for them.  (Welfare Service Workers Special Committee, Social Security Council, Securing Caregivers Toward 2025, at 1, MHLW website (Feb. 25, 2015) (in Japanese).) Therefore the Japanese government has looked to foreigners to fill the gap.

Immigration Control Act Revisions

The amended Immigration Control Act adds a new category of resident status for foreign nurses and caregivers. (Immigration Control Act, Order No. 319 of 1951, amended by Act No. 88 of 2016, Attached Table.) National licenses as nurses or caregivers will be required to obtain the status. (Id.) Currently, students who have studied nursing and have graduated from accredited schools can receive the license without taking a national exam. However, a national exam system will be established in 2022. (Rapid Increase of Number of Foreign Students, 10 Times, “Obtaining Skills” in Japan, MAINICHI NEWSPAPER (Oct. 29, 2016) (in Japanese).)

Currently, it is hard for foreigners with nursing licenses to obtain resident status. However, after the amended Act becomes effective, it will be easier for them to obtain a job as well as the resident status. (Id.) At present, foreign nurses and caregivers are allowed to work in Japan only under bilateral Economic Partnership Agreements, which exist with Indonesia, the Philippines, and Vietnam. (Regarding Acceptance of Foreign Nurses and Caregivers from Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam, MHLW website (Sept. 1, 2016) (in Japanese).)

The amendment also tightens management of foreign residents who obtain resident status by fraud and who have not engaged in the activities specified in their applications for resident status for more than three months. (Immigration Control Act, arts. 22-4 & 70.)

Technical Training Act

The Technical Training Act establishes an approval system for foreign technical trainees’ training plans and creates the Foreign Technical Trainee Institution, a state-run oversight body. (Technical Training Act, Act No. 89 of 2016, art. 1.) When an organization that implements the training plan does not follow the plan or violates labor laws or other regulations, the Institution may revoke the organization’s training license. (Id. art. 16.) The Institution also provides consultation for foreign trainees who have complaints. (Id. art. 87, item 2.)

Training of foreigners for nursing care is covered by the Technical Training Act and by the amendment to the Immigration Control Act (Act No. 88 of 2016). Another Immigration Control Act amendment associated with the new Technical Training Act extends the maximum period of training from the current three years to five years for organizations that have good records. (Immigration Control Act, amended by Act No. 89 of 2016, art. 2, Attached Table 1.)

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