The Diet on Dec. 8 passed a controversial bill to overhaul the immigration control law, adopting changes to provide a supply of foreign workers in what are often viewed as blue-collar sectors.
The revised law marked a drastic policy shift in immigration-shy Japan, paving the way for an influx of an estimated 340,000 foreign workers in the five years after the new visa system comes into effect in April next year.
The bill has sparked a backlash from opposition lawmakers, who say it lacks many specifics. Those specifics would be decided after the bill is enacted into law.
Critics compare it to the state-sponsored foreign trainee program, which has been the target of allegations of human rights violations. These include cases where trainees are paid less than the minimum wage, are bullied and sexually harassed by employers, and face harsh working conditions.
A Yomiuri Shimbun poll last month found that 73 percent of respondents wanted the Diet to spend more time deliberating the bill. (The Japan Times)