Aspiring foreign "washoku" chefs will be allowed to remain in Japan for two years after graduating from a culinary institute under a new visa program announced Dec. 27 by the farm ministry.
The visa extension program will begin in spring and allow foreigners who graduate from a culinary school in Japan to remain in the country to train at a Japanese restaurant.
The program is intended to foster washoku chefs to spread the cuisine around the world now that traditional Japanese cuisine has been formally designated as part of UNESCO's Intangible Cultural Heritage list.
There are currently about 200 foreigners studying washoku cuisine in Japan on student visas. Under the current system, those individuals would have to return to their native land after graduation.
Under the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Law, working visas are only issued to chefs specializing in foreign cuisine, such as Indian or French.
Under the new program, a training plan would be compiled by the culinary school and the Japanese restaurant that has agreed to take on the graduate. If no problems are found, a two-year visa extension will be granted.
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