Immigration Agency to Train Personnel to Better Support Foreign Residents

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
The Justice Ministry, under which the Immigration Services Agency has been placed, is seen in Tokyo in May 2021.

The Immigration Services Agency plans to launch a program next fiscal year to train specialists who will coordinate support for foreign residents, according to sources.

The agency aims to have 300 people complete the training program by fiscal 2026, the sources said.

The agency envisages making this position a national qualification. It seeks to create an environment in which foreign residents can feel comfortable living in the country for a long period of time, according to sources.

The move was prompted by a rapid increase in the number of foreign residents in Japan. At the end of last year, the number of foreign residents hit a record high of 3,075,213, exceeding 3 million for the first time.

Trained coordinators will provide consultation services at central and local government offices. They will also be tasked with identifying issues based on their extensive knowledge in certain fields, such as laws and regulations, and connect the residents with specialized organizations and support groups.

The training program will first be open to such people as government employees who work directly with foreign residents. Those in the program are expected to be fully certified after completing certain requirements, including two months of online training and three months of practical training in the workplace.

In addition to the inability to train people in those positions, a shortage of personnel who understand different cultures, have knowledge of immigration-related laws and are capable of handling complex problems are some of the issues that have made it difficult to support foreign residents.

In a 2021 local government survey conducted by the agency, about half of the respondents cited “a personnel shortage” as a challenge to provide consultation services to foreign residents.

The agency is now considering specific training methods to teach coordinators, the sources said.