NIKKEI Asian Review | March 22, 2017
Percentage of guest talent far outpaces Japan’s
TOKYO — In the competition to recruit much-needed foreign talent, South Korea’s work permit program is beating that of Japan’s system.
In raw numbers, Japan’s 1.08 million foreign workers edge out South Korea’s 960,000. But South Korea’s population of 50 million is less than half of Japan’s, making its proportion of foreign workers more than double that of its neighbor.
Foreign workers had entered through the Industrial Training System, which was similar to Japan’s current Technical Intern Training Program. But Seoul replaced the framework with a broader Employment Permit System in 2004, which let in 480,000 nonprofessional workers.
Among that number, South Korea granted regular work permits to 260,000 people from Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, the Philippines, Indonesia and 11 other nations under bilateral agreements. They generally work in agriculture and at small to midsized manufacturers. In contrast, Japan is taking in only 210,000 technical trainees.