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Japan keen to Attract Immigrants as Population Shrinks

December 2017, 02
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The Trump administration is taking steps in keeping the talented foreigners out of the USA; Japan is trying to attract them.

Many people think Japan to be an inward-looking country, but that is untrue. Many foreigners have decided to live in Japan in recent years.

They are temporary residents, guest workers arriving on technical intern visas or overseas students.

Many of them are likely to return to their originating countries but temporary workers stay on. Some of them marry locals and settle in Japan. The government of PM Abe is taking firm steps to alleviate the labor shortage caused by an aging population. It aims to target skilled immigrants who can take up an assignment as Researchers, Engineers, Managers Entrepreneurs, and Professionals.

For attracting the global talent, Japan is following Canada and has introduced an immigration system based on points. Importance is given to language skills, Advanced degrees, work experience and qualifications. Candidates, who score high, gain permanent residency in one year. The administration claims to have the quickest permanent residency system. Following it five years of residency is required and in one year of paperwork, they become Japanese citizens.

As far as the skilled workers are concerned, Japan is an easy and rich country ideal for immigration. Somehow the skilled workers are not attracted. As per the Institute for Management Development World Competitiveness Centre, Japan has less appeal in Asian countries.

Japan is a clean, friendly, safe and wonderful place to live and also has great infrastructure. The food is excellent, and the average home is bigger than one available in other countries.

The principal reason is language. Though Japan has many streets signs in English, all business and school activities are transacted exclusively in Japanese. Top international workers in finance and technology fields have an expectation to send their children to English-language schools.

English proficiency in Japan has not been superlative and the leaders of the country are unwilling to see their own language occupying a less important role. 

The second factor of importance is a proper work-life balance. Companies in Japan make employees work long hours. There is a slight improvement under Abe, but there is more room for better things.

A System, which allows the employees, like Engineers and Professionals, to take their work to their home, requires some strengthening. A corporate tradition which gives more values to output and results and not to the input is primarily essential to have work-life balance. A few Japanese companies have shifted to an effective corporate culture, but such transformations are tough.

Japanese salaries are unattractive to many talented overseas workers. Many Japanese companies appoint workers, from the college level, and allow them to work for a long time, the initial salary is low. Most of the skilled foreign workers today are not interested to stay in a company for a long period and adopt an international system of career advancement through changing jobs.

Japan has a system where mid-career recruitment is rare, and pay of a senior professional makes it hard to get an increased salary by changing companies.

The real reason for the low appeal of Japan for the skilled immigrants is its inflexible, corporate system. That culture is witnessing a gradual change, and the country requires a fair job of advertising using modern techniques of management. Only then it will be able to attract the best talents.

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