【News】 Foreign skilled workers likely to be allowed to work for Japanese farmers in national strategic special zones in fiscal 2017 (Dec. 13, 2016)

The Japanese Government decided on December 12 to allow skilled workers from abroad to work on farms in national strategic special zones.

The government plans to submit an amendment to the related law during the next ordinary Diet session early next year, aiming at an application of the amended law in fiscal 2017.

Applicants for the new system will be limited to foreign workers who have studied professional knowledge on agriculture. They will be able to work for agricultural corporations and other farmers in three to five years.

Around 24,000 unskilled foreign workers are now employed by Japanese farmers under the foreign trainee system. Japan’s Ministry of Justice has not allowed overseas workers to be employed by local farmers under other systems.

Officials of Ogata village in Akita prefecture and Ibaraki prefectural government requested the national Government to revise the related law so that the farming labor shortage can be alleviated by allowing more foreign workers to find jobs at local farms.

It is expected that application for the new system will be made by overseas workers who have completed the existing foreign trainee program in Japan as well as foreign nationals who have studied agriculture at universities in their home countries. They will be also required to have some ability to communicate in Japanese.

A period of employment as an agricultural skilled worker will be three to five years. Applicants will come mainly from countries in the south-east Asian region which have records of achievement in sending farm workers to Japan under the current foreign trainee system.

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