Japanese officials say a survey shows that a visa system the country uses to benefit highly-skilled foreign workers is not being widely used. They say many of those eligible don't take advantage of it.
The government introduced the system seven years ago to attract skilled workers from abroad. Since then, more than 15,000 professionals have been certified for the preferential visa treatment.
The program makes it easier for foreigners with certain qualifications to obtain permanent residence status.
But in a survey of over 300 foreign nationals working in Japan, the Internal Affairs Ministry found the system to be underutilized. While 18 percent of respondents are taking advantage of it, 37 percent are not, despite being eligible.
Asked the reason, nearly half said they didn't know the process well. More than 21 percent said it had no merit.
And almost 19 percent responded that they weren't aware they met its requirements.
The internal affairs ministry has told the Justice Ministry to step up efforts to publicize the system.