National Diet of Japan on Saturday passed a bill to reform the visa system to allow thousands of migrant workers to enter the country to tackle the country's labour shortage.
The new visa system for foreign workers is expected to start in April, covering 14 sectors, including construction, farming and elderly nursing care, so the country can pass its previous opposition to immigration, not to receive refugees, and open to dealing with the consequences of aging populations rapidly.
The government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe submitted the bill despite strong criticism from the opposition, which said the bill did not do enough to address concerns about living and working conditions for immigrants.
The government cited a training program offered by Japan to citizens of emerging economies since 1993, which critics say exposes them to cheap labour in factories and leaves them living on the margins of society, while the opposition argues that these problems can be exacerbated by the arrival of hundreds of thousands of new workers.
The new system will provide two types of visas. The first type will give trainees an opportunity to extend their visas for another five years if they can pass a basic language test, while the second will grant long-term visas to highly skilled and experienced workers who will also be able to bring their families, unlike the first type.
There are currently about 1.28 million foreign workers in Japan, compared with only 680,000 in 2012. (QNA)
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