Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's cabinet approved draft legislation last week to bring in overseas blue-collar workers in sectors struggling with labour shortages, reports Japan Today.
Last month, the government first unveiled its plan to attract more foreign workers. Under the legislation, foreign nationals with skills in fields identified as facing shortages would be awarded a visa allowing them to work for up to five years. The approval of the draft legislation represents a controversial policy shift in immigration-shy Japan, and the government has faced criticism about how overseas workers will be integrated into the labour market. Abe has said the changes do not constitute an "immigration policy".
The draft legislation is now expected to be submitted to Parliament for approval. Japan’s aging and shrinking population has led to the country now facing its tightest labour market in decades. The country’s unemployment rate in September stood at 2.3%, with job availability at its highest level since 1974.