Okinawa plans to accept foreign agricultural workers

Okinawa Prefecture officials are reportedly examining a possibility of accepting foreign labor based on the National Strategic Special Zones System, in response to chronic labor shortage in the agricultural field.

Compared to the existing system that accepts foreigners as technical intern trainees this system has less limitation regarding the content of the worker contracts and, for example. they are allowed go back home during the agricultural off-season. The system would enable farmers to ask for labor power only during the busy times of planting and harvest. That is expected to reduce the burden for farmers and boost agricultural production.

The type of the produce is not specified, but is supposed to apply to the harvest of chrysanthemums and sugar cane during the busiest season. A foreign worker needs to sign an employment contract with the manpower supply agency that is approved as a “specific institution”, and then he/she will be transferred to a farmer who needs labor.

Compared to the existing technical intern trainee system, the worker is allowed to work for several farmers with no limit to the type of produce, and he/she can also do the process work and sales. Foreign workers who have completed “the training system No.2” and spent two years or more as a technical intern trainee in Japan are expected to be the primary target of the system.