Friday, July 13, 2012

Richard Diaz Alorro

A Cup of Coffee
by Richard Diaz Alorro

Japan Opens its Doors to Highly-Skilled Foreign Nationals

Bilang tugon sa globa-lisasyon at industrial development, the Japanese government has finally opened its doors to highly skilled or ‘talented’ foreign professionals. Ipinatupad kamakailan lang ang bagong set of immigration regulations para sa mga highly skilled foreign professionals moving to Japan or those professionals already staying and working in Japan. Nagsimulang tumanggap ng mga aplikasyon ang Bureau of Immigration noong May 7, 2012. Ayon sa Ministry of Justice, “This policy is going to be introduced in order to promote more acceptances of highly skilled foreign nationals who have advanced abilities since those foreign professionals are expected to contribute to economic growth and creation of new demand and employment in Japan.”

Kaakibat ng bagong immigration policy ang point-based system to evaluate the qualifications of the foreign professional applicant. Under this point-based system, ang mga foreign professionals na makakuha ng 70 points ay kilalaning ‘highly skilled foreign professionals’ at bibigyan ng preferential immigration treatment. The new immigration law now includes provisions for spouses of skilled professionals to acquire a position with full time hours in Japan alongside their relocating or highly skilled working partner. Maaalalang sa kasaluku-yang patakaran, ang spouse ng isang foreign professional na may ‘engineer’ o ‘professor’ visa status for example, is allowed to work for a maximum of 28 hours per week only. Kabilang din sa mga attractive benefits ng bagong policy na ito ang permission to engage in multiple activities during the stay in Japan, at permission to bring a parent or domestic servant of a highly skilled foreign professional under certain conditions. 

Ang mga ‘highly skilled foreign professionals,’ ayon sa Ministry of Justice, ay ang mga propesyonal na napapabilang sa mga sumusunod na gawain o sektor: (1) academic research, (2) advanced specialized/technical, at (3) business management. Some of the positions listed include highly professional and skilled areas, such as the engineering industry and human resources sector. “According to characteristic features of each category of the activities, evaluation will be made by setting points to such items as “educational attainment, period of professional experience, promised annual salary and research performance.”

Hindi lingid sa lahat na isang napakalaking social and economic issue sa bansang Hapon ang declining productive population o populasyon na bahagi ng labor force. Sa tantiya ng National Institute of Population and Social Security Research, Japan's population peaked at 127.74 million in 2006 before entering a long-term decline hitting some 100.6 million in 2050. Ang productive population naman ng bansang Hapon reached peak at 87.17 million in 1995, decreased since then and is predicted to decline to 53.89 million in 2050 (Ministry of Justice). “If Japan were to accept foreign nationals simply to make up for the decline and to maintain a productive population at that peak, the nation would have to accept some 650,000 foreign nationals annually.”

Isang napakalaking hakbang ang pagpapatupad ng bagong immigration policy na ito sa pagbabago ng Japanese society. For a country known for closing its doors to the world in one chapter of its history, Japan still continues to struggle to keep abreast with the modern norms and the impact of globa-lization. Still many Japanese people, especially the older generations, remain traditional and hesitant about the influx of foreign professional workers in their society. Para sa ating mga Pilipino, being one of the countries known for manning many of the world’s industries and human resources needs, isang malaking oportunidad ang pagpapaganap ng bagong policy na ito. This will provide an avenue for career advancement, professional growth and financial opportunity. But for the Japanese people, do they have a choice?

Accepting 650,000 foreign professionals annually may not be appropriate to supplement the decline in the number of the productive population. There must be other measures to repel the effect of the declining population (birth rate-boosting incentives, improvement of labor participation for women and elderly people, etc.). But the filling in of highly skilled foreign professionals in Japan’s labor matrix will be one of the instant yet deemed effective solutions to this problem. For sure, it entails a huge responsibility for Japan. Apart from the preferential immigration treatment, Japan also has to make it sure that the invited foreign professionals are well accepted in the society, can live comfortably in a stable environment, and provided with proper social security system (Ministry of Justice). 

Ito ay isang malaking kompetisyon. To attract the required highly skilled foreign professionals, Japan has to compete with the rest of the world, especially with other countries with more relaxed immigration policies (Canada, Australia, USA, etc.). And the time has come… 

Note: For more information regarding the ’highly skilled foreign professional’ status, please refer to these websites (REFERENCES):

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