Japan’s ageing society has brought about a growing demand for construction workers doing reconstruction work in the disaster-hit areas as well as preparations for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. The government has now decided to allow more foreigners to work as trainees in order to fastrack the construction projects.
People from developing countries are allowed to work as apprentices in Japan under the Technical Intern Training Program. The apprenticeship, though currently good for only three years, may now be extended up to five years via a new residence permit. Former trainees may also opt to return for two years or even three, provided a year has lapsed since they went home. The government is expected to roll the new policies by the 2015 fiscal year as soon as they finish establishing a new resident status for these foreign workers. Stricter penalties for non-payment of wages and illegal employment will also be imposed to guard against abuse of foreign workers.
The construction industry has seen a decline in workers when the administration of ex-Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi decreased public works spending in 2001 until 2006. In 2012, only 5.03 million worked for the construction industry, a 30 percent decrease from its peak in 1997. Out of this number, only 10 percent comprise workers below 29 years old while more than 30 percent are aged 55 years or older. As Prime Minister Shinzo Abe increased public works spending, the shortage in capable workers became noticeable, opening up the opportunity for foreign workers to fill these positions.
[ via Nikkei ]
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