December 19, 2022
TOKYO – The government is aiming to bring in more foreign workers from Central Asian countries, partly through the “specified skilled worker program” that allows foreign nationals to do jobs that involve manual work.
Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi is expected to announce the policy during a meeting between the foreign ministers of Japan and five Central Asian nations of the former Soviet bloc, in Tokyo on Dec.24.
This move is believed to be aimed at encouraging the self-reliance of the countries — Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan — and at reining in Russia and China, both of which have strong influence over the region.
Hayashi is expected to say that Japan will contribute to the sustainable development of Central Asia, with an emphasis on “investment in people” and “quality of growth.”
Japan signed a memorandum of cooperation in 2019 with Uzbekistan regarding the acceptance of human resources, and is set to promote discussions with the four other nations to conclude similar documents.
Russia regards Central Asia as its sphere of influence and has been pressuring the region. There are many Central Asian migrant workers in Russia, and the money they transfer to their home countries supports those nations’ economies.
Japan hopes to lessen this dependence on Russia by accepting more foreign workers from the countries, and by “allowing workers to take back skills and utilize them in their home countries,” a senior Foreign Ministry official said.
Central Asia boasts abundant natural resources, including oil, but exports have been largely confined to neighboring China and Russia. During the Saturday meeting, Hayashi also is expected to announce that Japan will help the five nations to diversify their export markets and cooperate on developing decarbonization technologies.