Dec. 29 (Bloomberg) -- Japan will begin rating some foreign immigrants with a point system next year that gives visa preference to those with higher education and skill levels, the Mainichi newspaper reported.
The program may begin as early as next spring and aims to to attract as many as 2,000 workers, the Mainichi said today, citing the Justice Ministry. The rankings will work similar to those in Canada and the U.K., the newspaper said.
The world’s third-largest economy is under pressure to admit more overseas workers to maintain competitiveness as its population ages and shrinks, said Noriaki Matsuoka, an economist at Daiwa Asset Management Co. in Tokyo. Japan’s working-age population will drop to 80 million by the end of next year from a peak of 87 million in 1995, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development estimates.
“This experiment is the first step to a more open country,” Matsuoka said by telephone today. But “even if you have the policy in place, you need to address linguistic and cultural barriers as well.”
Under the plan, foreign professionals with higher scores will be allowed to stay in Japan for a longer period of time and be given priority for processing their immigration paperwork, Mainichi said.
Specialists such as professors, doctors and corporate managers deemed highly skilled will be allowed to stay in Japan for five years and face relaxed requirements to apply for permanent residency. Their spouses would also be allowed to work in the country, according to the report.
A foreigner with a doctorate degree and at least 10 years of practical experience would be awarded 55 points, the Nikkei newspaper said. Another 10 to 50 points could be given based on salary and more for passing a Japanese-language exam.
Foreigners would need at least 70 points to qualify for benefits under the program, Nikkei said, citing the Justice Ministry.
--Editors: Patrick Harrington, Mark Williams
To contact the reporter on this story: Aki Ito in Tokyo at email@example.com
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Paul Panckhurst at firstname.lastname@example.org