Japan to Take Up to 800,000 Foreign Workers through FY 2028

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Prime Minister’s Office

Tokyo (Jiji Press)—The Japanese government is considering setting the cap on the number of foreign workers with specified skills it accepts under a special residency status over five years from fiscal 2024 at more than 800,000, people familiar with the matter said Tuesday.

The limit will be raised to more than double the current five-year cap, reflecting severe labor shortages in various sectors.

The residency status for specified skilled workers was introduced in April 2019 to secure an adequate labor pool. Type 1 status enables holders to work in Japan for up to five years, while Type 2 for highly skilled workers effectively enables holders to live in the country permanently.

Type 1 status is issued to foreign workers in 12 areas, such as nursing care, construction, food service, manufacturing of industrial products and agriculture. Type 2 is issued for the same areas, except nursing care.

The government plans to add four areas including automobile transport and forestry to the scope of Type 1.

The government sets limits on how many foreign workers can be accepted in each area over a five-year period, in order to prevent the scheme from affecting the employment of Japanese people. In the five years through fiscal 2023, the maximum numbers totaled 345,150.

Officials are estimating shortfalls of labor in each area to set the caps for the five years through fiscal 2028. The total shortfall, even when taking into account wage hikes and improved productivity for Japanese workers, is expected to exceed 800,000.

For automobile transport, some 25,000 foreign skilled workers are believed to be needed to drive taxis, buses and trucks.

About 200,000 foreign workers lived in Japan under the special residency status as of the end of November 2023.

While the number of such workers in manufacturing of industrial products reached about 80 pct of the cap for fiscal 2019-2023, that of workers in the accommodation sector stood at below 10 pct of its five-year cap.