Japan SMEs to get boost for hiring foreign nationals

People gather to buy articles for daily use at a store before the consumption tax increase in Tokyo on September 30, 2019. The consumption tax will be raised to 10 percent from October 1st in Japan.( The Yomiuri Shimbun via AP Images )

TOKYO (The Japan News/ANN) — The central government will work together with local governments to start a pilot program from next fiscal year to encourage the employment of foreign nationals by regional small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs).

The envisioned program, which will target those who are granted the newly established specified skilled worker residence status, aims to spread foreign workers throughout the country, rather than them being concentrated in urban areas.

In its fiscal 2020 budgetary request, the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry has included about ¥850 million for the program.

It will invite applications for program participants from municipalities that are facing a shortage of workers in their local industries. Up to five municipalities will be selected to implement measures to promote hiring foreign workers over a two-year period.

Under the pilot program, labor bureaus at prefectural governments and Hello Work public job-placement offices, which are both under the ministry’s jurisdiction, will sign an agreement with municipalities.

Under the deal, the central government will provide SMEs with advice on recruiting and managing such workers, as they usually lack the know-how on hiring foreign labor. On the other hand, municipalities will offer foreign workers support in their daily life.

Prefectural labor bureaus and Hello Work offices will hold seminars for SMEs regarding the specified skilled worker residence status and other related issues. These entities will also match foreign workers with these companies.

If the companies decide to hire, staff from prefectural labor bureaus or Hello Work offices will visit these employers to provide consultation on employment management and check if they properly pay wages to their foreign employees, among other issues.

Under the pilot program, the ministry plans to commission the private sector to set up a recruitment website in foreign languages. If launched, the site can directly inform foreign workers interested in finding jobs in Japan of the strong points that certain SMEs in regional areas possess.

“We will make sure to promote the fascinating aspects of regional areas and what generous support municipalities offer to foreign residents,” a ministry official said.
If the pilot program proves to be effective, the ministry hopes to implement similar schemes in other municipalities.

By News Desk