Promotion of countermeasures for illegal foreign workers

Press release

April 24, 2019 (Heisei 31)

The National Police Agency, the Ministry of Justice, and the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, as well as the Immigration Services Agency, which was established as an External Bureau of the Ministry of Justice in April of this year, have established the Inter-Ministerial Liaison Committee Regarding Measures to Combat Illegal Foreign Workers to communicate and work together in solving the illegal foreign worker issue in Japan.
The number of foreign visitors to Japan have broken record numbers for six straight years. Last year, over 31,100,000 people visited Japan. As human international exchange becomes invigorated, a new system of accepting foreign human resources will begin from April. As the situations around foreign nationals residing in Japan grow more diverse, there are concerns that illegal foreign workers may impact public safety and the labor market in Japan. As such, the above council enacted the "Promotion of measures against illegally employed foreign nationals (revised)" to face a period of drastically increasing number of foreign visitors to Japan and confirm that the four ministries will work together even closer to address the illegal foreign worker issue.

1. Members of the Inter-Ministerial Liaison Committee Regarding Measures to Combat Illegal Foreign Workers

Director-general of the Organized Crime Department of Criminal Affairs Bureau, Director-general of the Security Bureau, and Director-general of the Info-Communications Bureau at the National Policy Agency
Director of the Criminal Investigation Department, Ministry of Justice
Deputy Commissioner of the Immigration Services Agency
Director-general of the Labour Standards Bureau, Director-general of the Employment Security Bureau of the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare

2. Inter-Ministerial Liaison Committee Regarding Measures to Combat Illegal Foreign Workers

Agencies must work together and execute wide-ranging countermeasures from various angles in order to address the illegal foreign worker issue. In particular, from the viewpoint that ministries and agencies need to implement effective measures while deepening mutual cooperation in the fields of public security, labor, and immigration control, the Liaison Conference of Director-Generals for Measures against Illegal Foreign Workers was established in February 1992, comprised of the director-generals of the National Police Agency, the Ministry of Justice, and the former Ministry of Labour, for the purpose of exchanging information and opinions to formulate effective and appropriate measures against illegal foreign workers and related matters. At the same time, the Council for Measures against Illegal Foreign Workers has been set up, consisting of the section managers of these three ministries.

3. Current status and measures against to combat the illegal foreign worker issue

Many illegal residents, such as foreign nationals overstaying their authorized period of stay who do not possess a status of residence, are believed to be engaged in illegal employment. As such, the Liaison Committee has implemented various measures to combat this. From 2004, the National Police Agency, the Ministry of Justice, and the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare started implementing various measures to reduce the number of illegal residents, and they were able to significantly reduce the number of illegal residents, which was expected to reach about 250,000 at that time.

However, as of January 1 of this year, the number of foreign nationals overstaying their authorized period of stay had increased for the fifth consecutive year to over 74,000 people. Some used falsified documents such as fake residence cards. Some are "imposter residents" who obtained residence permission improperly by using falsified documents to pretend that they were eligible for a certain status of residence, and then went on to work illegally. Some started working after applying for refugee status by abusing or misusing the system, regardless of the fact they were clearly not eligible to be recognized as refugees under the Refugee Convention. Others disappeared from their technical intern training sites and went to work in other places. These situations have grown more and more serious over the years, and as the means grow more malicious and complex, the issues surrounding illegal foreign workers cannot be ignored.
The number of foreign visitors to Japan (Note) last year exceeded 31,100,000 people, reaching a record high for the sixth consecutive year. In the future, as this figure climbs even higher, the presence of illegal foreign workers will serve as a large impediment in the promotion of Japan as a tourism-oriented country, as they may negatively affect the whole of society.

Under these circumstances, the government is trying to make "Japan the safest country in the world" by trying to get a hold on the situation of foreign workers in Japan, implementing border control measures at ports of entry, promoting measures against illegal residents and falsified stays, and strengthening information gathering and analysis functions. Based on the "Strategy to Make Japan the Safest Country in the World," the government is trying to create a society where Japanese citizens can live in harmony and peace of mind with foreign nationals.

In the "2014 Action Plan to Combat Trafficking in Persons" adopted in December 2014 (Heisei 26), strict policing of illegal employment crimes was included. As a measure against human trafficking, which is one type of international organized crime, the government as a whole will promote various initiatives and measures against illegal foreign workers and illegal employment.

Furthermore, the government is also promoting the policing of illegal foreign workers in the "Comprehensive Measures for Acceptance and Coexistence of Foreign Nationals" approved in the "Ministerial Conference on Acceptance and Coexistence of Foreign Nationals" in December 2018.

The National Police Agency, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, and the Immigration Services Agency enacted the "Promotion of Measures against Illegally Employed Foreign Nationals (Revised)" as attached. Going forward, the agencies intend to strengthen their cooperation and enact measures against illegal foreign workers.

(Note) Figures published by the Japan Tourism Agency of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism (and the Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO).)

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