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Nursing care sector to accept largest No. of foreign workers: Japan gov’t

The Japanese government said Wednesday it expects nursing care businesses to accept the largest number of foreign workers among the 14 sectors to be affected under an envisioned immigration control law revision.

In an estimate provided to the parliament, which has just started deliberations on a bill to revise the law, the government also affirmed it expects that up to 47,550 foreign workers will enter the country in the first year and 345,150 workers over five years.

In a major policy shift for Japan, the bill would create new visa statuses to accept blue-collar foreign workers in sectors deemed seriously short of labor, ranging from construction and farming to nursing care. The program, which will possibly start next April, may also pave the way for them to live permanently in Japan.

By sector, the government said nursing care is expected to accept the largest number of up to 60,000 workers in the five-year period, food services up to 53,000 workers and construction about 40,000.

Farming is expected to get about 36,500, and building cleaning businesses around 37,000.

The other sectors covered by the program are industry machinery, electronics, shipbuilding, auto maintenance, material production, airlines, lodging, fishery as well as food and beverage manufacturing.

The government announced the official estimate after being grilled by opposition parties for pushing ahead with passage of the bill without disclosing details of the new system.

The government and the ruling parties aim to pass the bill during the ongoing extraordinary Diet session though Dec. 10.

Japan has so far mainly accepted highly skilled professionals in such fields as medicine and law, while taking in only a tiny number of refugees. But it is now in need of more foreign workers due to a rapidly aging population and low birth rates.

According to the government estimate, the country’s labor market is now short of 586,400 people and will face a shortage of about 1.45 million in five years.

Under the envisioned system, two new types of residence status for non-Japanese workers are expected to be created.

The first type, valid for up to five years, will go to those with adequate work knowledge and experience.

The second type will be for foreign nationals needed in fields requiring higher skills. The government does not plan to set a limit on the number of visa renewals and will allow family members to accompany the workers, opening up the possibility for such people to live permanently in Japan.

The estimate unveiled Wednesday is only related to the first type of visa status. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at a press conference that the second type of visa status will only affect the construction and shipbuilding sectors.

All — Kyodo News+

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