Japan plans to launch a new survey in fiscal 2023 to collect data on foreign workers, such as their income and types of employment, to better accommodate their needs, according to the labor ministry.

The number of foreign workers in Japan rose to a record 1.73 million as of October last year amid a workforce shortage, labor ministry data showed, but the government currently has only basic information on them, such as their residency status, nationality and workplace size, among others.

Critics have pointed out that the government has been unable to come up with adequate support measures for foreign workers since it does not know their actual employment conditions.

A Vietnamese trainee works at a factory in Okazaki, Aichi Prefecture. (Kyodo)

Concrete plans for data collection will be formulated in fiscal 2022 beginning April, before the planned start of the survey in the following year. The data will become comparable to labor statistics of Japanese nationals, according to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare.

An interim report on the envisioned survey compiled by an expert panel showed earlier in February that the statistics will initially cover offices that hire foreign workers, including technical interns under a government-sponsored program.

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The survey will ask employers of foreign workers about their income, types of jobs, and the length of service, among others, in line with questions in the existing government statistics such as those on employment status and trends.

The questionnaire also includes questions specific to foreigners, such as their proficiency in Japanese, native language, the duration of stay and amount of remittances, in addition to basic ones such as age and gender.

Earlier this year, the ministry and the Immigration Services Agency of Japan began another survey to grasp the financial situations of foreign technical trainees as money problems seem to be the reason many abruptly leave their host firms.

Thousands of such trainees leave their designated host companies without notice every year seeking better wages, among other reasons.