Diplomatic Bluebook 2022

Chapter 4

Japan's Diplomacy Open to the Public

Section 1 Japanese Society and People Deepening Their Ties with the World

1 Japan's Growth and Acceptance of Foreign Nationals

(1) Growth Strategy and Visa System

At the end of March 2016, the Government of Japan formulated the “Tourism Vision to Support the Future of Japan,” heading toward a new nation-building as an “advanced tourism nation.” It set new goals for the number of foreign visitors to 40 million in 2020 and 60 million in 2030. In the vision, it is stated that the Government will engage in strategic relaxation of visa requirements for the five countries whose nationals are currently required to obtain a visa to visit Japan (China, Russia, India, the Philippines and Viet Nam) out of 20 countries and regions that have big markets of potential tourists to Japan. Based on the above-mentioned vision, MOFA had thus far been implementing a relaxation of visa requirements with these countries, including simplification of application forms and expansion of target persons for visa issuance from the perspective of promoting people-to-people exchanges, strengthening bilateral relations, etc. However, in 2021, the number of foreign nationals visiting Japan fell due to the impact of tighter border measures mutually imposed by Japan and various foreign countries with the aim of halting the spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), which subdued the total number of foreign visitors to approximately 250,000. Relaxing visa requirements is effective to a certain extent for promoting people-to-people exchanges and Japan's economic growth. As such, the relaxation of visa requirements should be further promoted, while assessing the COVID-19 situation inside and outside Japan.

Meanwhile, intensifying visa control, as one part of border measures designed to prevent the entry of criminals and foreign visitors planning to work illegally, as well as those who could become victims of human trafficking, is also an important challenge. MOFA will keep considering the relaxation of visa requirements in order to increase the number of foreign visitors to Japan while maintaining “Japan as the safest country in the world,” and to contribute to making Japan a tourism-oriented country both in quality and quantity through attracting the wealthy, repeating and younger visitors. MOFA intends to consider this relaxation of visa requirements while taking into account bilateral relations, its diplomatic significance and other factors in a comprehensive manner, as well as considering their balance with border measures.

(2) Hosting Foreign Human Resources and Their Social Integration

With Japan's declining birthrate, aging population, and shrinking population, in order to address worsening labor shortages faced by various businesses including small- and medium-sized businesses and small-scale enterprises, a “Specified Skilled Worker” system was established in April 2019 for accepting work-ready foreigners with certain expertise and skills into some industries, which continued to face difficulties in securing personnel despite efforts that were made to improve productivity and secure personnel domestically. MOFA, as one of the organizations related to this system alongside the Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare and the National Police Agency, prepares Memorandums of Cooperation (MOCs) that set out the frameworks for information partnerships with the countries of origin, and participates in bilateral discussions based on those MOCs. MOFA also undertakes public relations efforts in the local languages of the main countries of origin.

Furthermore, a ministerial meeting on accepting and coexisting with foreign human resources was established to conduct a government-wide, comprehensive discussion on developing the environment for accepting new foreign human resources and realizing a society in which Japanese nationals coexist with foreign nationals living in Japan. In June, the “Comprehensive Measures for Accepting and Coexisting with Foreign Human Resources” (revised 2021) were decided upon. Furthermore, every year MOFA hosts the “International Forum on Acceptance of Foreign Nationals and Their Integration into Japan,” aiming to encourage debate among the people by providing opportunities to discuss concrete challenges and measures. In March 2022, MOFA co-hosted the forum with the International Organization for Migration (IOM).