Law to enable foreigners with advanced skills to stay indefinitely

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Lawmakers on Wednesday passed the revised immigration law that enables foreign nationals with advanced skills to stay indefinitely in Japan as well as simplifies passport control procedures for foreign tourists.

The government is hoping an influx of people with special skills will help invigorate the economy. Specialists envisaged under the revised law are researchers and engineers in information technology, medicine and other fields as well as corporate managers and university professors.

Foreign nationals may qualify to stay in the country under a new status for specialists if their academic credentials, professional background, annual income and other factors meet the law's criteria and if they remain active in the area of their specialty in Japan for three years. Thereafter, they will be allowed to stay in the country indefinitely.

The spouses of special status holders may work in Japan, while their parents and housekeepers will also be allowed to join them.

As part of the government's efforts to attract more foreign travelers, the revised law also includes provisions for simplifying passport control procedures.

Short-term repeat visitors who register their fingerprints may use "automated gate" machines at Narita and other major airports to bypass human passport control. Currently, the facility is available for Japanese passport holders and foreign passport holders with re-entry permits.

Passengers on designated cruise boats will also be given access to simplified passport control procedures.

The revision to the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Law was adopted with majority endorsements from lawmakers of the Liberal Democratic Party, the New Komeito party and other parties at a plenary session of the House of Councillors.

June 11, 2014(Mainichi Japan)