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Japan moves to expand controversial foreign worker scheme

Published on Apr 1, 2014 7:44 PM
 
Businessmen and women cross a road in Tokyo on Feb 17, 2014. Japan is considering expanding a controversial program that now offers workers from China and elsewhere permits to work for up to three years, as the world’s fastest-aging nation scrambles to plug gaps in a rapidly shrinking workforce. -- FILE PHOTO: AFP

TOKYO (REUTERS) – Japan is considering expanding a controversial program that now offers workers from China and elsewhere permits to work for up to three years, as the world’s fastest-aging nation scrambles to plug gaps in a rapidly shrinking workforce.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) on Tuesday submitted a proposal to let workers to stay for up to five years, relax hiring rules for employers and boost the number of jobs open to them.

“We will strengthen the governance of the programme,” LDP lawmaker Yasuhisa Shiozaki, who authored the proposal, told reporters. “We are aware of the concerns and we allowed people who had objections to voice their objections.”

Shiozaki said the LDP wanted to see harsher penalties for Japanese companies that abused foreign workers and would use external inspectors and local governments to monitor compliance.

 
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