The Japanese government is mulling plans of bringing in more foreign workers to fill in the country’s diminishing labor force, according to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s two principal advisers.
In an interview on Friday, Liberal Democratic Party lawmaker and prime minister Abe’s adviser Masahiko Shibayama revealed that the government is considering some policies that may result in an increase of workers from abroad in Japan, Bloomberg reported.
“Probably a lot of strategies are going to be adopted in the coming few years,” Shibayama was quoted as saying. “I don’t think it’s a fixed goal of the government but, in my opinion, doubling the number of foreign workers cannot be avoided in this global market situation. We have to make a sustainable system for accepting more and more foreign workers.”
Japan’s low birth rate has created a demographic crisis of having an increasingly aging society and lawmakers are looking into immigration as one possible solution.
Japan’s population, which is currently at 127 million, is at risk of dropping below 100 million in the next few years. The government aims to prevent this from happening by carefully crafting policies, like the proposed immigration, while weighing in such concerns as its potential effect on the Japanese society.
Abe’s other adviser Yasutoshi Nishimura, explained in a separate interview that the government is seeking to pass a bill that will expand the country’s foreign “trainee” program which currently allows foreign workers to enter Japan for a limited period. Lawmakers are also looking into creating new visa categories for sectors that urgently need laborers.
The current system now sees around 190,000 foreigners working in the country. Provisions in the new law would increase a worker’s stay for up to five years, instead of the current three years.
Other improvements, such as better protection for the employees and wider sector coverage, are also being considered.