Japan is facing a shortage of 200,000 information technology professionals due to an ageing population and falling birth rate and India can fill the gap with its huge talent pool, a Japanese trade official said. “There are about 920,000 IT professionals in Japan,” Shigeki Maeda, executive vice-president of Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO), said in an interview on Thursday.

“There is an immediate demand for more than 200,000 professionals and the shortage is likely to touch 800,000 by 2030.”

“India can bridge that gap. If a company in Japan has an immediate demand for say 5,000 engineers, only India can come to their aid. All sectors are facing the crunch as they are interlinked and connected... whether it is healthcare, agriculture, research and development or services or finance.”

Easing of rules

Japan eased rules for issuance of green card and permanent residency status for highly skilled professionals in April last year. The new norms shortened the required period for permanent residency to one year from five years earlier.

In 2016, there were 5,549 certified highly skilled foreign professionals registered in Japan. Of this 3,621 professionals were from China, 290 from the U.S. and 266 from India.

“All the top Indian professionals are eager to go to the U.S.,” Mr. Maeda said. “Competition is tough in U.S. When you compare that to Japan, life is much easier. China is the most populous nation and it is easier for a Chinese to learn the Japanese language. It is also closer to Japan.”

Also, about 30,000 Japanese firms operate in China, much more than in U.S. In India 1,369 companies from Japan have set up base while only 71 Indian companies operate in Japan.”

Of the total number of Japanese companies operating in India, 220 are out of Maharashtra, 197 in Tamil Nadu and 162 in the National Capital Region.

Mr. Maeda’s pitch comes at a time when the U.S. administration last month imposed curbs on H-1B visas affecting companies such as TCS, Infosys and Wipro, which rely on the visas to do work for American firms.

As per the new U.S. policy, companies will have to prove that its H-1B employee at a third-party site has specific and non-qualifying speculative assignments in a speciality occupation. Now on, H-1B visas would be valid only for the period for which the employee has work at a third-party site. Earlier, it was valid for three years at a time and the move came ahead of H-1B visa filing which starts on April 2.

Japan has set an inward foreign investment target of USD330 billion by 2020, Mr. Maeda said.

“Japan has become the third-largest investor for India after Mauritius and Singapore. Companies such as Panasonic, Toshiba, Hitachi have already initiated the process of establishing an R&D centre in India.”

Japan also eased rules for Indian travelers and from January this year, applicants do not require to submit their employment certificate and letters of explanation for multiple-entry visas. The number of documents to be submitted has been cut to three, he said. – The Hindu


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