Ja­pan eases visa for for­eign staff

The Asian Age - - World -

Tokyo, Dec. 8: Ja­panese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s rul­ing coali­tion early on Satur­day rammed through leg­is­la­tion to bring more bluecol­lar for­eign work­ers into the coun­try, in a con­tro­ver­sial move to ad­dress chronic labour short­ages.

The Bill was en­acted af­ter the Up­per House gave ap­proval de­spite a raft of crit­i­cism by Op­po­si­tion par­ties fol­low­ing its pas­sage through the lower house in late Novem­ber. Both cham­bers are con­trolled by Abe’s rul­ing camp.

Un­der the new sys­tem, the gov­ern­ment plans to bring in as many as 3,45,000 for­eign work­ers in con­struc­tion, food ser­vices, nurs­ing and other des­ig­nated sec­tors for five years. “We aim at start­ing it in April next year be­cause we need to swiftly launch the new sys­tem in or­der to deal with the cur­rent labour short­age,” Abe told parliament on Thurs­day.

But Op­po­si­tion par­ties claimed that the law fails to ad­dress the po­ten­tial im­pact on Ja­panese so­ci­ety of new for­eign labour, and does not pro­tect for­eign work­ers’ rights.

In a bid to block its pas­sage, Op­po­si­tion par­ties sub­mit­ted cen­sure mo­tions against Abe and Jus­tice Minister Takashi Ya­mashita, but they were eas­ily re­jected by the rul­ing bloc. The law al­lows for­eign­ers with skills in sec­tors fac­ing short­ages to ob­tain five- year visas that would not al­low them to bring their fam­i­lies.

For­eign work­ers in those fields who hold stronger qual­i­fi­ca­tions and pass a more dif­fi­cult Ja­panese lan­guage test can ob­tain a visa that can be ex­tended in­def­i­nitely, even­tu­ally lead­ing to res­i­dency, and will be able to bring over fam­ily.

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