Japan's Highly Skilled Foreign Professional Visa: an early assessment

Abstract

Japan's point-based Highly Skilled Foreign Professional visa, implemented in May 2012, represents a new step in courting skilled foreign labor. The visa provides benefits unprecedented in Japan, yet application numbers remain below expectations. Utilizing new survey data, this paper considers the visa in detail from the applicant perspective. Results indicate that while the benefits offered are positively regarded, they are overly restricted and skewed toward longer term residents. The new visa also suffers from unclear application requirements, as well as inconsistency in its goals and ideal candidates. The Japanese case consequently provides some evidence that competitive benefits alone are insufficient to successfully attract skilled foreign labor.