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Japan immigration

Japan to hire 500 immigration staffers ahead of new visas

Rise in foreign workers and tourists prompts justice ministry to expand team

People wait in line for immigration services at Narita Airport near Tokyo. Japan expects to host more tourists, while also opening the country to more foreign laborers.

TOKYO -- Japan's Ministry of Justice on Thursday requested its largest-ever budget for fiscal 2019, including 58.8 billion yen ($528 million) to create a new agency dedicated to immigration services and to add more than 500 staffers to handle the expanded role.

A new residency status will be created for foreign workers in April, an effort to help fill in for the acute labor shortage that Japan faces. In response, the ministry looks to add 319 staffers to help handle immigration procedures, increase security and conduct administrative work.

Another staff increase designed to handle the rise in foreign tourists will lift the overall recruitment to 536 people. Including staff in regional offices, the number of employees connected to immigration management will jump to 5,407 from 4,871.

The budget request includes about 16 billion yen to introduce new equipment for immigration inspections and security improvements. The ministry also designated 3 billion yen for system upgrades related to the new residency status and online foreign residency applications.

Japan's Immigration Bureau receives an upgrade to agency status in April. The newly established agency will consist of a division for immigration management that handles tasks such as visa inspections as well as a division for foreign residency that supports daily issues and Japanese-language education.

The Justice Ministry's overall budget request for fiscal 2019 was 801.87 billion yen, which represents a rise of 5% from the initial fiscal 2018 budget and the ministry's largest estimate ever.

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