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Bill favors granting visas for those who can speak Japanese

Dekamaster

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Saw this one on a recent email news subscription:

Bill ties visa to language skills


By REIJI YOSHIDA
Staff writer

Looking to encourage Japanese language learning among foreigners, the government is set to submit a bill to the Diet next year designed to make it easier for those who demonstrate a certain level of language proficiency to get visas of up to five years, a government study group said Thursday in an interim report.

The current maximum limit is three years.



The government plans to submit a bill to revise the immigration system to an ordinary Diet session that convenes in January.

"(Foreign Minister Masahiko) Komura underscored that having a reasonable level of Japanese proficiency is vital for foreign nationals seeking long-term residency permits to adapt to Japanese society and lead a sound communal life in Japan," a statement issued Thursday by the Foreign Ministry read.

Komura first floated the idea in January this year, sparking widespread concern among foreigners that the government may be tightening visa control over foreigners who do not speak the Japanese language.

But both Komura and other Foreign Ministry officials emphasized that the revision would only give more visa opportunities to foreigners with Japanese language skills who would, without the new system, find it difficult to acquire a longer-term visa.

"Even without any Japanese skills, there would be no trouble (applying for) the current three-year visa status," Komura told reporters.

"This would go in the direction of deregulating visa status, not strengthening it," he said.

Neither the level of language skill required nor how it would be tested have been determined yet.

The language test would not be compulsory, a ministry official in charge of the visa issue told a media briefing the same day.

According to ministry officials, the new system is aimed at encouraging non-Japanese to learn Japanese, particularly descendants of Japanese immigrants from South America, many of whom fail to master the language.

The new language-skill-based visas would benefit people in certain occupations such as interpreter, translator and flight attendant, the official added.



The Japan Times
(C) All rights reserved
 

lonesoullost3

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Lol, translate the Kojiki, both the Japanese and Chinese part.
Nice trial huh?

LOL. And of course, you have to prove your proficiency in the opposite direction: Tolstoy's War & Peace to Japanese. (yes!)
 

Glenski

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This is not so new news. I've written about it (and so have others) in a negative sense.

What happens to those people who have visas now yet don't have enough Japanese ability? Just because the bill supposedly makes it "easier" to get the visa, it said nothing about what happens in the above situation, nor who makes the language test, to what level it is set, who corrects it, what is a passing grade, etc.
 

JimmySeal

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This is not so new news. I've written about it (and so have others) in a negative sense.

What happens to those people who have visas now yet don't have enough Japanese ability?
This is new news. Or at least it's a clarification of old news. I don't think you read the article.

Komura first floated the idea in January this year, sparking widespread concern among foreigners that the government may be tightening visa control over foreigners who do not speak the Japanese language.

But both Komura and other Foreign Ministry officials emphasized that the revision would only give more visa opportunities to foreigners with Japanese language skills who would, without the new system, find it difficult to acquire a longer-term visa.

"Even without any Japanese skills, there would be no trouble (applying for) the current three-year visa status," Komura told reporters.
 

Pachipro

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Some people will always find the negative even in good news that seems to at least be extending a hand and making an effort. In a way it is a shame that people can walk around with such a big chip on their shoulder.

If a person doesn't want to learn the language or even have the desire to learn even after living there for a long period of time then they sould accept the 3 year visa and shut up already.

If some don't have the ability yet, but are making the effort than they'll just have to wait until they're proficient enough to warrant the 5 year visa if it ever gets passed. Seems simple enough to me.

And I second what Jimmy Seal posted above:
But both Komura and other Foreign Ministry officials emphasized that the revision would only give more visa opportunities to foreigners with Japanese language skills who would, without the new system, find it difficult to acquire a longer-term visa.

"Even without any Japanese skills, there would be no trouble (applying for) the current three-year visa status," Komura told reporters.

Even if such a bill is passed, I'm afraid there will be those, as always, who will find fault with it in some way or another.

Anyway, I am cursed with seeing both sides to every argument because, on the other hand, a bill like this may never have even been considered if it wasn't for the rantings of such people. So I guess there can be some positives in negativity.
 

Haruspex

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Im not really good with this kinda stuff, but it seems like awesome news to me, I mean, you study hard, hoping that you'll have some use for it someday, but its all unsure, however, if they decide on this, It'll be like a coupon for diligence. You go to Japan, and turn it in, so you immediately receive something good for your work.

LOL. And of course, you have to prove your proficiency in the opposite direction: Tolstoy's War & Peace to Japanese. (yes!)
Well, to unsure that the one applying for the visa is a polyglot not counting Japanese, they could make him translate the authentic Russian version, the one with Tolstoy's handwriting and notes lol.
 
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Glenski

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I don't see a lot of further clarification. Still only 7 months away, and they don't know how the test will be administered/created/graded. Will test takers have to read and listen only, or will there be a written and speaking component? Don't shrug this off, either. It's a huge thing.

Most of this news was spurred by the nikkei here (as this and the former article suggest), despite slipping in the part about flight attendants. But, it only says that if you get some (undefined) Japanese language skills, you can get a 5-year visa. Call it deregulation if you like, but it's still a regulation to meet if you want that longer visa.

"Even without any Japanese skills, there would be no trouble (applying for) the current three-year visa status," Komura told reporters.
Nice spin by Komura. It says nothing about how many people apply for such duration and get it, compared to those who get a shorter visa term. If you want a work visa, you can be issued a 1- or a 3-year visa. There is no guarantee of getting a 3-year one. Same holds for the nikkei (who are eligible for a 3-year, 1-year, or 6-month Long-term Resident visa). No guarantees and no figures on how many get the 3-year status. Komura's statement makes it seem as if anyone who applies gets the 3-year status, and this is simply not true.

There is also no mention (no clear one, anyway) of what happens if you apply for such a thing, take the language test, and fail. That is, would you have to apply for the other visa status, or would it automatically be issued to you, or would you be asked to leave the country?
 

lonesoullost3

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I think the point people are trying to make Glenski, is that this new bill is not drastically modifying the old system at all. Rather, it's a supplement to the old system, creating an alternative method of getting an alternative visa. If you wish to think of it as regulation, think of it as regulation on a NEW visa, not on the old.
 

JimmySeal

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Maybe this article is a bit clearer:

http://www.japantoday.com/category/...ient-in-japanese-to-be-allowed-to-stay-longer


‘‘We keep, and will keep, the door open for those without Japanese proficiency,’’ the official said, stressing that those who do not know Japanese will not face higher hurdles in their entry requirements or current residency status. ‘‘We are simply opening another window for those with a certain level of proficiency.’’

It really seems like this is not going to make it harder to get or keep a visa without Japanese proficiency, so I don't see what there is to complain about.
Maybe nothing to rejoice about either, but I always say don't look a gift horse in the mouth.
 

Glenski

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My chief complaint is the lack of sufficient information. Yes, this looks nice on the outside, but it is far too early to be announcing such things without certain "crucial details" (to use the words of that link Jimmy Seal provided). Here's more to chew on.

the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity in briefing reporters, was unable to provide crucial details about issues such as how and at what level ‘‘proficiency’’ will be determined.

Due to budget constraints, it is unlikely that the government will develop a completely new proficiency test. Rather, the ministry plans to utilize the current tests offered by the Japan Foundation and the Japan External Trade Organization, better known as JETRO, the official said.

But such tests are currently offered only once a year and at a limited number of locations, according to the official.
So, if I want to apply for such a 5-year visa, but the test date has already gone, I have to wait perhaps 11 months and 29 days just to take it. Even waiting 9 months or 6 months can throw off a person's timing (and his employer's) a considerable amount. Want to use some language courses you have already taken elsewhere? They don't even have a way to figure that out yet, as attested from this quote:
The government is also considering the possibility of accrediting people who have completed a certain number of hours of language instruction. But the official said no concrete details, such as accreditation, have been decided.

And, what about those nikkei who are already here (whom this bill is largely supposed to benefit)? Read on.
the government as a whole has yet to come up with any plans to expand language education for foreigners already residing in Japan or whether to subsidize those who want to improve their Japanese to meet the proficiency level to benefit from the ‘‘favorable treatment.’’

JImmy, while it may be true that it won't make it HARDER to keep a visa without J proficiency, it hasn't been worked out just WHAT it takes to get the new one. If you were considering coming here and wanted to study Japanese for that type of visa, you would probably want to know what to study. Zippo details so far. Now consider the Brazilian population who are here already and trying to support themselves, yet they face the language barriers. They have no idea what to be studying either, yet they may very well NEED that information.

A gift horse? Maybe, but one that is barely on the drawing boards and is getting acclaim by some politicians. Heck, they can't even make simple decisions among themselves, let alone work for us.
 

orochi

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In another article I read on the topic, it said that the JLPT as well as other tests would be used to measure Japanese ability. I HIGHLY doubt that there will be a specific test that you take when applying for the visa.

If anything, there will just be an "Other" box added to the visa applications where you can write in any proficiency test credentials that you have.

That way, when they are checking over your application, it just becomes a plus for your application and instead of getting a 1 or 3 year visa, you get a 5 year one.

For now, let's just wait for more information.
 

Glenski

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JLPT as well as others? There you have it. Nobody can make up their minds, and I agree that "news" like this article should be ignored until there is far more clarification...like a day before the bill is enacted into law (or later).
 

JimmySeal

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Yes, I fully agree that this law is nothing to get too excited about yet. I'm just saying it's hard to see the law itself as a bad thing.

The way it's being reported certainly has its downsides, but as you're well aware, that's just how things are done here. Slow to make change; deliberate in making decisions. It may yet sink their country with a lack of adaptation to a changing world, but that's their way.
 

Glenski

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orochi,
That was meant to reflect what the politicians report, so it is entirely within context of this discussion. Sorry if it mislead others about anything else.
 

Elizabeth

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orochi,
That was meant to reflect what the politicians report, so it is entirely within context of this discussion. Sorry if it mislead others about anything else.
A more comprehensive summary...



Japanese-speaking foreigners to receive favorable treatment for visas

05/01/2008
The Asahi Shimbun

The Foreign Ministry plans to give favorable treatment in visa applications and extensions to foreign nationals with a good command of the Japanese language.

Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura was to announce the plan Thursday afternoon.

The favorable treatment will include extending the resident status of foreigners with a certain level of Japanese language proficiency to a maximum of five years from the current three.

In addition, visa requirements on professional experience and academic qualifications will be eased.

The ministry expects the measures will motivate non-Japanese hoping to stay here long term to learn Japanese. That would lead to an increasing number of foreign nationals with higher professional knowledge and skills working in a country whose population is expected to decline because of low birthrates.

However, the new measures will not lead to any unfavorable treatment to foreigners with poor Japanese language skills, officials said.

The government will continue to permit entry by foreign nationals even if they cannot speak a word of Japanese, they said.

The government plans to assess Japanese language skills based on the results of the Japan Foundation's Japanese Language Proficiency Test and other tests.

The new measures will initially target foreign nationals in specialized professions, such as interpreters, translators and cabin attendants on international flights, who use the Japanese language at work.

The foreign and justice ministries have been discussing the new measures since January, when Komura expressed his intention to link entry requirements and visa status with language skills.

He said improved communication skills will help foreign nationals blend in at their workplaces and local communities.

"(Japanese language skills) are important to enhance their quality of life," Komura said.

The Foreign Ministry intends to implement the measures in fiscal 2009 after revising the immigration control law based on deliberations with the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology and the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare.

The number of registered foreign nationals staying 90 days or longer in Japan rose to about 2.085 million at the end of 2006, accounting for about 1.6 percent of Japan's total population, according to the Justice Ministry.(IHT/Asahi: May 1,2008)
 
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