Japan PM Kishida calls for passing bill for new foreign worker training program

Japan's Prime Minister Kishida Fumio has renewed his call for lawmakers to pass a government bill that would introduce a new program for developing foreign workers' skills to help ease Japan's labor shortages.

Kishida was speaking at the Upper House Judicial Affairs Committee on Thursday. He stressed the need to create an inclusive society where foreigners can work by making full use of their abilities.

He said that's important to secure talented foreign workers in Japan when competition is intensifying among countries to attract them.

The proposed bill would revise the immigration law and related legislation.

The revisions would replace the current technical intern training program for foreign nationals with a new system for training them to fill labor shortages in certain sectors, such as nursing care and construction.

The new program may increase the number of permanent foreign residents. But one controversial point is that the proposed legislation would allow the government to revoke permanent resident status under certain conditions. That could happen if foreign residents intentionally fail to pay taxes, for example.

In the committee session, a lawmaker of the opposition Constitutional Democratic Party said most of the key points are stipulated in vague terms that leave much room for interpretation.

Kishida responded that the government plans to draw up a set of guidelines for typical cases of revoking permanent residency.

He said the guidelines will be based on discussions at the Diet and elsewhere and will aim to ensure transparency and fairness in procedures.

The prime minister said that, in some malicious cases, the proposed revisions would allow the cancellation of permanent residency. But it could be changed to another status of residence, in principle.

Kishida said the bill was written carefully with sufficient consideration for permanent residents of Japan.