Japanese companies have become more active in hiring foreigners and disabled people, in response to a chronic labor shortage, legal change on the employment of the disabled and for overseas expansion, prompting the job placement industry to organize various job fairs to that end.
Foreign students in Japan are drawing attention as potential manpower, along with women and elderly people, while companies are expected to recruit more people with mental illness, as well as those with physical and intellectual disabilities -- ahead of the enforcement next April of the revised law for employment of disabled persons.
The revision will oblige employers to employ mentally ill people as well as other disabled people.
As a way to diversify employment, companies are already holding job fairs in response to the various needs and characteristics of potential employees.
NODE Inc., a manpower agency targeting foreign students in Japan, mainly those from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations members, held a seminar in Tokyo in mid-September.
Seven Japanese companies interested in hiring foreigners took part in the seminar sponsored by the Tokyo-based staffing agency, including nursing care and real estate businesses.
Among the students who participated in the event were about 30 from ASEAN countries such as Vietnam and Thailand.
At the seminar, the participating companies were briefed about how to obtain work permits for prospective employees and the advantages of employing foreigners, while the students were given advice on job interviews.
An official in charge of personnel affairs at Tokyo-based realtor Tact Home Co. said, "We are looking for human resources who can become our partner when we advance into the Southeast Asian market."
A student from Thailand who attended the seminar, said "I'd like to work in fields where I can use my environmental management expertise. I want to act as a bridge between Japan and Thailand," she said.
Since its launch in 2014, NODE has organized 10 job-matching seminars, inviting students from Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, and companies interested in hiring them.
According to the government-backed Japan Student Services Organization, the number of foreign students in Japan totaled 239,287 as of May 2016, up 14.8 percent from a year earlier, with those from ASEAN countries accounting for more than a quarter.
"Inquiries we receive from companies looking for work-ready manpower have increased year after year," said a NODE official.
Also in mid-September, Recruit Staffing Co. arranged interview sessions for the recruitment of disabled people, bringing some 20 companies and 40 job seekers in their 20s-40s in Tokyo.
Keisuke Tokoyo, president of IT firm Takes Co., said, "Ahead of the scheduled mandatory employment of people with mental illness, we want to secure manpower who can work for a long time."
"Meeting directly with applicants, we can learn about their personalities and characteristics in person -- which we cannot find in background papers," Tokoyo said of the interview session he attended.
Job seekers also benefit from such an event as they can get a lot of information about jobs at one time with one applicant saying, "I'm glad I was able to contact many companies."
Another participant in the event said, "It's good to know how I could work at each company."
An official of LITALICO Inc., a job and education assistance service provider for disabled people, said, "Corporate demand for holding interview sessions for disabled people is strong." The company co-hosted the September session with Recruit Staffing.
"We will organize more interviews not only in Tokyo but also in other regions as a way of connecting the disabled to companies."