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Japan immigration

Japan's Persol to place foreign workers with 'specified skills' visas

Temp agency to start with more than 100 Asian nursing workers

A caretaker from Philippines works at a nursing home in Osaka. (Photo by Hirofumi Yamamoto)

TOKYO -- Japanese temporary placement agency Persol Holdings will start a foreign labor staffing service to meet growing demand for workers with "specified skills" visas.

After COVID-19 entry restrictions are eased, Persol plans to welcome more than 100 nursing care workers from Asia. It also aims to place 3,000 people a year by 2024, expanding into the food service sector and food processing industries.

With the recent accelerated rollout of vaccinations and as the economy recovers, Japan's labor shortage has become more acute. Against this backdrop, there are signs that the employment of foreigners is rising.

Japan's specified skills work visa program was introduced in April 2019 to help 14 industries where labor shortages are particularly severe, such as nursing care, food service and construction.

To qualify for the visa, foreigners are required to pass an industry-specific skills and knowledge test as well as demonstrate Japanese language proficiency.

Persol Global Workforce, a unit of Persol, has a training center in the Philippines and plans to offer courses over about six months in Japanese language and long-term nursing care. It will also begin training skilled workers in Nepal and Indonesia. More than 100 nursing care workers will be trained in the three countries as well. 

For other staffing agencies, Tokyo-based Onodera User Run will again begin accepting skilled workers around November. The company had offered jobs to about 330 workers after conducting training in four countries, including Myanmar. Fullcast Holdings has also begun training through its units for people in Southeast Asia who intend to obtain specified skills visas.

As of the end of March, there were about 22,000 workers with specified skills visas. Although the number has risen sixfold from a year ago, most of those with the visas are already in Japan and have switched from other types of visas. Entry from overseas has not been progressed due to entry restrictions arising from the pandemic.

Even before the coronavirus outbreak, there was strong demand for foreign labor in Japan, especially in industries that have been understaffed. The entry of Persol into the market is likely to give momentum to the placement of foreign workers with specified skills.

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