Japan is struggling with a labour shortage, and they’re looking for Malaysians to fill the gaps.
According to Kyodo News, Malaysia is planning to send blue-collared workers to Japan under a new visa programme that was launched by the latter on April 1 to let in more foreign workers into the country.
Both countries are aiming to strike a deal this July, when Malaysia’s human resources minister M. Kulasegaran visits Tokyo for the signing of a memorandum of cooperation (MOC), Kyodo News reported.
A Malaysia government official familiar with the negotiations was quoted by Kyodo News as saying: “We are working with the Japanese government to formulate an MOC on sending workers to Japan as they have opened up 14 sectors to foreigners.”
The official added that the scheme could open up 50,000 jobs in Japan for Malaysians, but it has not yet been decided which sectors will be open to Malaysian workers, Kyodo News said.
Malaysia’s Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad will also be making a visit to Japan later this month to discuss the details of the MOC.
The official also told Kyodo news that Malaysia was interested in the scheme as its government believes the country should support those willing to go abroad to earn a better salary temporarily.
Citing a small study that was conducted, the official said that the findings showed that Malaysians were willing to upgrade their skills to join any sector open to them in the visa system.
“They are excited as the higher starting salary is a major draw,” the official was quoted by Kyodo News as saying.
According to AP news, Japan previously issued working visas only to people with professional knowledge and high skills, such as doctors, lawyers and teachers.
Under the new visa system, foreign nationals with certain Japanese language and job skills will be able to apply for a resident status called Specified Skilled Worker No. 1, AP News reported.
The resident status grants foreigners working rights in 14 sectors, such as construction, farming and nursing care for up to five years.
Proficient labourers working in the construction and shipbuilding sectors can extend their stay in Japan by earning the Specified Skilled Worker No. 2 status, which will allow holders to bring in family members and renew their visa as many times as they want to.
In order to curb fears of work exploitation, the Japanese government has set up laws requiring employers to pay wages equivalent to or higher than those of Japanese nationals, and the payment should be made directly to workers’ bank accounts, AP News said.
According to Malay Mail, Malaysia will be the 10th nation that will provide foreign workers to Japan after the Philippines, Cambodia, Myanmar, Indonesia, Thailand, China, Vietnam, Nepal and Mongolia.