Japan wants easier immigration for Vietnamese

By Duc Trung   October 11, 2023 | 03:15 pm PT
Japan wants easier immigration for Vietnamese
Spokeswoman of Japan's Ministry for Foreign Affairs Kobayashi Maki. Photo courtesy of APIC
Tokyo is considering loosening immigration procedures for Vietnamese entering Japan in an effort to increase the country's number of foreign tourists and high-quality workers, Japan's foreign ministry announced.

At a Hanoi press conference on Tuesday, spokeswoman for Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs Kobayashi Maki said the notion is part of Tokyo’s efforts to bolster its post-Covid tourism sector.

Maki said the number of Vietnamese tourists that visited Japan in 2019, before the Covid-19 pandemic broke out, was around 500,000. The number of Japanese tourists visiting Vietnam was 952,000 during the same period. In the first quarter of this year, the number of Vietnamese tourists to Japan reached 161,000, a 12-fold increase compared to the same period in 2022, she added.

"We need to continue increasing this number by bolstering cultural cooperation and loosening immigration procedures for Vietnamese coming to Japan. While there has yet to be a complete visa exemption, Japan is considering making the process more convenient," she said.

Maki did not specify exactly how the immigration procedures would be made easier. Visas are currently required for all Vietnamese entering Japan, except for those carrying diplomatic or other official passports.

Maki said the Japanese government is also re-strategizing how it aims to attract high-quality workers. She added that creating new advantages for Vietnamese workers in Japan was also a top priority. Vietnam has a high number of high-quality workers, while Japan is facing serious aging population issues and worker shortage problems.

"We have seriously considered attracting workers by expanding fields of specialties and improving benefits," Maki said, adding that changes could be introduced next year.

Japan is also considering closing its foreign trainee program to create a new worker recruitment system to "protect and develop" human resources. The new program would include the addition of certain new worker benefits.

By June 2021, there were around 202,000 Vietnamese technical trainees studying and working in Japan, according to the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

Maki said Japan would ensure the provision of Official Development Assistance (ODA) to Vietnam, even as her country is at risk of budget deficits.

At the official state reception ceremony for Japanese Minister for Foreign Affairs Kamikawa Yoko in Hanoi on Tuesday, Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh also asked Japan to provide a new-generation of ODA to Vietnam's large-scale, strategic infrastructure development projects.

Japan is among Vietnam's most important economic partners. The country ranks first when it comes to ODA, second on labor cooperation, third on investment and tourism, and fourth on commerce. Bilateral trade turnover between the two countries in 2022 reached around $50 billion, with Vietnam sending a total of $24.2 billion worth of exports to Japan and importing a total value of $23.4 billion.

Japan has signed several free trade agreements, both bilaterally and multilaterally, with Vietnam, including the ASEAN-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement, the Vietnam Japan Economic Partnership Agreement and the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Kamikawa Yoko is visiting Vietnam from Tuesday to Wednesday, on the occasion of Vietnam and Japan commemorating the 50th anniversary of their establishment of diplomatic relations.

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