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Japan eyes expanded role for foreign farm specialists

Broader employment could help ease labor shortage

Japan's farmworkers numbered 3.17 million in February 2016, 2.08 million fewer than a decade earlier.

TOKYO -- Japan will consider letting foreign farming specialists work outside its national strategic zones, expanding a current plan to bolster a shrinking farm workforce.

With its agricultural population on the decline, Japan needs to put foreigners to work on farms or as mid-level supervisors, Kozo Yamamoto, regulatory reform minister, told reporters after a cabinet meeting Tuesday. Large farming operations have an "extremely strong" need for such labor, he said.

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