Japan enacts controversial bill to open door to foreign blue-collar workers

Saturday, 2018-12-08 12:01:30
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Filipina Gladys Gayeta, 22, a trainee at Starlite Co. car parts factory, works with her fellow trainee worker in Akitakata, Hiroshima prefecture, western Japan November 28, 2018. (Photo: Reuters)
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The Japanese parliament passed a bill on Saturday (December 8) that would pave the way for the nation to formally open its doors to foreign blue-collar workers amid severe labor shortage.

Japan's ruling bloc has forcibly "bulldozed" the bill through the parliament despite staunch resistance form the opposition parties, who accused the bill of being vague and having not received sufficient deliberation.

Under the new legislation, two new resident statuses are expected to be created from next April, granting working rights to foreigners in sectors that suffer severe labor shortage, including construction, farming and nursing care.

The first status involving the new immigration law will allow five-year working visas to foreigners with applicable vocational skills spanning 14 different fields, but they will not be allowed to bring their families.

For foreign workers eligible for the second status, who have more advanced skills, the length of their stay will be open-ended and they will be allowed to bring their families with them.

The government will also upgrade the Justice Ministry's Immigration Bureau to an agency to strengthen its abilities to deal with the increase in foreigners.

The government predicts Japan would accept up to 47,550 foreign workers in the first year from next April and up to 345,150 over five years.