A rapidly growing number of people are being attracted to the Working Holiday Programs, which enable young people to stay abroad for a long period and to work there temporarily. The number of Japanese who signed up for the program in 1992 was 10,502, exceeding 10,000 for the first time, and reached 16,845 in 1997. Although the number fell to 15,753 in 1998, it still remains high. On the other hand, the number of people from other countries who signed up for the program to come to Japan peaked at 5,467 in 1992, and has been falling since, reaching 2,367 in 1998.
The working holiday visa programs commenced in 1980, with participants from Australia, followed by New Zealand in 1985, Canada in 1986, and the Republic of Korea in 1999. A similar system was set up with France in December 1999, and another is expected to start with Germany this year. Japan and the United Kingdom have also agreed to introduce the program. It is expected that with more partner countries, more young people are likely to take advantage of the programs.
At present, the programs impose certain restrictions during the stay abroad, such as hours of attendance at a language school and working hours. Moreover, a working holiday visa is issued to each participant only once. Even so, the programs undoubtedly provide young people with a great opportunity to experience life abroad via closer relationships with the people and the country they visit.
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