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Japan opening doors more widely to foreign professionals

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According to Justice Ministry statistics, the number of foreign residents in Japan hit a record 2.56 million as of last December. The latest statistics compiled by the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry show that 46 of Japan’s 47 prefectures saw an increase in the number of foreign residents as of January this year. Foreign residents have now become a familiar presence not just in the Tokyo megalopolis but also in other regions around the country.

It is frequently reported in the media that this increase has been driven by the rise in the number of students from overseas and technical intern trainees. But in fact foreign human resources with professional knowledge and skills are also growing.

At the end of last year, foreign residents with “engineer/specialist in humanities/special services” status — a typical qualification for staying in Japan for people with knowledge and skills equivalent to those of university graduates — numbered about 189,000, up 69 percent from the 112,000 in 2012. This increase compares favorably with that for foreign students (72 percent) and for technical intern trainees from overseas (81 percent) over the five-year period.

Many foreign media reports about Japan tend to portray Japanese businesses as being closed and reluctant to accept talents from overseas, or focus on such negative aspects as the language barriers and labor practices, including long working hours. In........

© The Japan Times