TOKYO, Dec. 9 ― Japan’s upper house of parliament has approved an immigration bill, which accepts more foreign blue-collar workers from April next year, a controversial move for the country that is known for highly restrictive immigration policies.
Under the new bill, two new categories of visas for foreign workers will be created.
One category allows blue-collar workers to stay up to five years in Japan but cannot bring family. The other is for more skilled workers who can bring family and could be eligible for residency.
The new bill is designed to tackle labor shortages in 14 sectors, including agriculture, aged-care nursing, and construction, in the face of the country’s aging population.
But the opposition parties have criticized the legislation because the detail is yet to be spelled out for each sector in the bill. The issue is expected to be discussed at an ordinary session of parliament next year.
In the agriculture sector, which needs a pool of seasonal labor such as fruit picking, the government may allow several different working formats, including labor providers to supply foreign workers to several farms.