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.