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Japan considers opening doors to expats

The Japanese government is reportedly considering schemes that will attract more young expatriates to the country in order to revitalise its economy, which is struggling due to an ageing population.

Currently, those aged between 22 and 30 can take low-skilled jobs in the Land of the Rising Sun for one year as part of the Working Holiday visa, but prime minister Shinzo Abe may permit new measures to allow on-the-job training programmes for foreigners.

Other options on the table include reducing the amount of time someone needs to have lived in the country to become a permanent resident, down from five years to three.

The news comes as Japan prepares to host the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, which is significant as the Games will require an enormous amount of construction work, which is suffering not only due to an ageing population, but also a declining one.

According to government ministers, comprehensive steps will be needed to address the shrinking birth rate, with statistics suggesting that ten million immigrants will be needed over the next 50 years in order to offset the fall in births.

There were around two million foreigners living in Japan at the end of 2012, including 620,000 permanent residents, and they make up only around one per cent of the workforce, so the new plans are radical indeed.

However, it is the construction industry that has been consistently highlighted as a problem area, which is facing its worst labour shortage for almost 20 years – a problem that threatens to derail Mr Abe's aggressive campaign for economic recovery.

The government is expected to release its final proposals of what should be done by the end of March.

Those hoping to uproot their current lives and head to Japan will be faced with significant culture shock and challenges including a lack of English and a very small international community in many parts of the nation.

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