Ja­pan pro­poses short-term visas for worker short­age


The up­per house of the Ja­panese par­lia­ment is set to vote on a bill al­low­ing short-term visas for for­eign work­ers for a five-year pe­riod.

Al­ready ap­proved by the lower house, the leg­is­la­tion, which would take ef­fect in April next year, cov­ers 14 dif­fer­ent in­dus­tries suf­fer­ing a short­age of work­ers, in­clud­ing con­struc­tion, agri­cul­ture, restau­rants and aged care.

The gov­ern­ment of con­ser­va­tive Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe wants to bring in an ad­di­tional 47,500 for­eign work­ers the first year and has a tar­get of 345,000 over the five-year pe­riod. As a rapidly age­ing so­ci­ety, Ja­pan in­creas­ingly faces labour short­ages.

There are cur­rently some 1.28mn for­eign work­ers in Ja­pan, up from 680,000 in 2012. Most come from China, but many also come from Viet­nam and the Philip­pines. Op­po­nents of the leg­is­la­tion fear that the new visa pro­gramme may be­come a gate­way to in­creased im­mi­gra­tion, while ex­perts have wel­comed the de­bate on im­mi­gra­tion spawned by the leg­is­la­tion.

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