New status for foreigners in Japan's strategic zones planned

New status for foreigners in Japan's strategic zones planned
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe officially announced Thursday that the government will start discussions on allowing Japan to exercise the right to collective self-defense under limited conditions by revising, if necessary, the constitutional interpretation, kept intact for more than four decades.

The government will start considering increasing the number of foreign workers in national strategic special zones, where regulations will be drastically eased.

A new status of residency for foreigners who start a business or are employed to do housework in such zones is being planned by the government.

The plan was decided Monday at a meeting of the advisory council on national strategic special zones, chaired by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, which was held at the Prime Minister's Office.

The government will include the plan in its growth strategy to be revised in June.

Currently, resident status allows foreigners with specific professional skills, such as lawyers, to work in Japan, or foreign trainees to receive on-the-job training.

This spring, six areas of the country were selected as national strategic special zones, including an area encompassing Tokyo and its vicinity; the Kansai area, covering Osaka, Kyoto and Hyogo prefectures; and Fukuoka.

In each zone, the government will consider easing the regulations and giving resident status to foreigners who start companies and to their employees.

Also, the government plans to increase the number of foreign babysitters to help Japanese women return to work after maternity leave, with the aim of promoting women's active participation in society.

Concerning increasing the number of foreign workers, there are strong fears that public safety will deteriorate.

At the meeting, Abe said, "I know there is resistance and opposition, but I believe it is possible to drill into hard-rock regulations by continually creating additional deregulation measures based on real demand."

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