Responding to the Internationalization of Japanese Society
In recent years, the importance of visa services and efforts for foreign residents in Japan has been increasing as the numbers of foreign visitors and residents in Japan have been on the rise. In order to promote people-to-people exchanges, Japan has introduced waivers of the visa requirements for short-term stays with Hong Kong, the Republic of Korea, and Taiwan since 2004, and has been facilitating the issuance of visas for group tourists from China. On the other hand, Japan has been implementing stricter examination of visa applications where illegal residency employment, exploitation, or human trafficking is suspected, from the standpoint of ensuring domestic security and protecting the human rights of applicants.
As Japanese society is facing an aging and shrinking population, there are various opinions being expressed regarding ways in which it accepts foreigners, while it is not uncommon for long-term foreign residents in Japan to encounter difficulties in finding employment, in education and in other areas. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs provides opportunities for discussion on Japan's policy for accepting foreign nationals by holding symposia on the current situation and issues concerning the acceptance of foreign nationals as well as on practices and challenges faced in the integration process of foreign residents as community members. It is also actively engaged in these issues by strengthening its collaboration with local authorities in regions in which many foreign nationals reside by providing information about efforts made by various nations regarding the acceptance of foreigners.
In addition, the Ministry regularly holds bilateral consultations with the consular authorities of countries with which Japan has extensive people-to-people exchanges. In 2008, consultations were held with Thailand and the Republic of Korea regarding the issues of immigration as well as of visitors from those countries to Japan and of Japanese nationals living in those countries.