Washington International Law Journal


Japan is currently facing a two-fold demographic crisis: its birthrate is rapidly falling and its population is rapidly aging. Despite the present recession, Japan is confronting a significant shortage of workers in the health-care field. There may not be enough home health-care aides to meet the needs of all of the elderly who are eligible for visits under Japan's new long-term care insurance program. The Ministry of Justice has recently proposed allowing more foreigners to work in Japan. The proposal encourages the admission of immigrants to work as "home helpers," an occupation that is considered unskilled. This proposal marks a major departure from Japan's long-established official ban on unskilled foreign workers, and it has sparked controversy about whether Japan should open itself to increasing numbers of foreign residents. This Comment describes Japanese elder care, explores potential foreign and domestic solutions to the shortage of home health-care workers, and concludes that Japan is likely to admit unskilled immigrants to fill labor shortages related to elder care.

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