Japan's ruling LDP approves government plan to expand foreign worker status

Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party has endorsed a government plan to drastically expand the fields for qualified foreign skilled workers. The move is aimed at attracting more skilled workers from abroad amid heated global competition for such people.

Holders of Category 2 residence status have no limit on applying to extend their stay in Japan. They are also allowed to bring spouses and children.

Currently, only workers in two fields -- construction and shipbuilding -- qualify for Category 2 residence status. The number of such status holders has remained at only 11 since the category was introduced four years ago.

On Tuesday, the party approved the government plan, expanding the number of fields from two to 11. The additional fields include farming as well as food and drink manufacturing.

Some in the LDP had voiced concern over the plan, saying that the move could effectively result in more immigrants to Japan.

The plan's approval at the meeting reflected a sense of crisis that Japan must become a country attractive to migrant workers, as it struggles with labor shortages.

The government plans to seek Cabinet approval of the plan early next month.