Japan has 10 times more highly skilled foreign workers than South Korea

2023.05.30 09:58:01 | 2023.05.30 13:30:12

[Image source: Gettyimagesbank]이미지 확대

[Image source: Gettyimagesbank]

Japan, which has as strong a sense of ethnic nationalism as Korea, is actively seeking to attract foreign workers to the country, intensifying competition with South Korea in Southeast Asia, which is a major source of labor force.

Japan is practically taking in highly skilled workforce from such countries as Vietnam and the Philippines, including information and technology (IT) experts, who are in high demand worldwide, as well as foreigners in certain blue-collar jobs, including elderly care workers who are in short supply in the country.

As of June last year, the number of foreign residents in Japan stood at 3.02 million, accounting for only 2.5 percent of its total population versus Korea’s 4.5 percent. Given that the average percentage of immigrants in the Group of Seven advanced economies is 13 percent, Japan is still at the level of an underdeveloped country in terms of immigration. However, Japan currently has three times higher proportion of permanent foreign residents and 10 times greater number of foreign professional workers than South Korea as the country has adopted advanced immigration and settlement systems.

In particular, Japan has emerged as a preferred immigration destination for highly skilled workers around the world after introducing a new system to grant highly skilled professional visas to foreign workers to attract overseas talent in 2015. The system even allows the spouse or children of those who hold a highly skilled professional visa to stay and work if they intend to work in Japan. The holders of such a visa can also hire foreign housekeepers without any restrictions, unlike Japanese, who are subject to various restrictions. In April, the Japanese government also introduced an additional system for highly skilled foreign professionals with increased benefits.

As recently as in 2012, the number of professional foreign immigrants in Japan was only 180,000, three times more than 60,000 in Korea, but the number soared to 500,000 last year. In contrast, Korea remains in the 50,000 level. The proportion of highly skilled workers among all immigrants in Japan has more than doubled to 16.7 percent from 8.1 percent in 10 years, but for Korea, it has fallen to 2.6 percent from 4.2 percent. As highly skilled foreign workers rushed to Japan, the number of long-term residents, including permanent residents, which is a prerequisite to become an advanced country in terms of immigration, surpassed 860,000 last year, accounting for 30 percent of the total immigrants, while Korea has 180,000 highly skilled foreign workers, accounting for only 8 percent.

By Ahn Jeong-hoon and Yoon Yeon-hae

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