November 1, 2005

Japan: A Downside Of Downsizing

With its hand forced by current shortages and the looming wave of retirees, Japan is also rethinking two other issues: ultratight immigration policies and underutilization of the female labor pool. On immigration, a single set of statistics underscores Japan's skewed priorities. The government is still considering a proposal to grant 100 visas a year to Filipino nurses and health-care workers, despite urgent need at hospitals and nursing homes. At the same time it handed out 98,000 "entertainment" visas last year to Asian women, many of them sex workers. Foreign students in Japan, including much needed engineers and IT specialists, must leave the country within 180 days of graduation if they haven't been sponsored for a job by a Japanese company, a laborious task. The Japan External Trade Organization has been pressuring the government to lighten immigration rules, but with limited success.


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