Japan will introduce a point-based rating system to evaluate some of its prospective immigrants in order to value those with higher education and professional skills, according to press reports.
Japan’s new system would be similar to those implemented by Canada and the U.K. The Justice Ministry hopes to attract up to 2,000 workers through the new program, which may launch next spring, the Mainichi newspaper wrote.
Japan’s working class is shrinking, as the country has one of the fastest-aging societies in the world. The working-age population will drop to 80 million by the end of 2012, from a peak of 87 million in 1995, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
Analysts explain that, taking this reality into consideration, Japan needs to welcome more foreign workers to maintain the economy’s competitiveness.
Under the new plan, foreign professionals with higher scores, like professors, doctors and business managers, will be able to remain in Japan for a longer period of time and be given priority for applying for permanent residency.
“This experiment is the first step to a more open country,” said Noriaki Matsuoka, an economist at Daiwa Asset Management Co. in Tokyo. But “even if you have the policy in place, you need to address linguistic and cultural barriers as well.”