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Ministry plans special resident status for foreign students hoping to work in Japan

Hopeful students wait for job interviews to begin in Tokyo's Sumida Ward, on June 1, 2018. (Mainichi)

TOKYO -- Foreign students hoping to land jobs in Japan after graduation would be able to apply for a special resident status allowing employment under a new Ministry of Justice plan.

The number of foreign students choosing to enter the Japanese workforce has grown in recent years, but only 30 percent of those graduating from university or graduate school work here. The new ministry plan aims to promote the employment of a talented foreign workforce, and is set to be launched as early as April 2019.

For a foreign national to work in Japan, they must be issued the appropriate resident status for each type of activity. For example, if a student wishes to make use of the knowledge they gained in university by joining a Japanese company, they can be granted the "Engineer / Specialist in Humanities / International Services" residential status which allows them to work, but if they engage in activities that do not meet the requirements for this status, then it is illegal for them to be employed at that job.

The foreign nationals envisaged under the plan would be graduates of four-year Japanese universities, vocational schools related to fields promoted by the government's "Cool Japan Strategy," such as anime, manga, Japanese cuisine, gaming, etc.), and other such students.

The Justice Ministry will not be revising the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act. Instead, it is considering allowing foreign students and others to stay in Japan under a special activities status with a maximum length of five years issued on an individual basis by the Minister of Justice.

The move comes after a comment by Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga during a lecture last month. Suga said that if foreign students wished to stay in Japan to work, having them "return home in frustration after not being able to find work should be avoided."

(Japanese original Takeshi Wada, City News Department)

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