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Japan to tighten oversight of foreign workers

Proposal last week to accept more overseas workers sparks concerns about safety

Japan is taking steps to let in more foreign workers in fields suffering from labor shortages, such as nursing care.

TOKYO -- A week after vowing to take in more workers from overseas, Japanese lawmakers on Tuesday responded to concerns about an influx of foreigners by promising to strengthen oversight of international residents.

Members of the Liberal Democratic and Komeito parties agreed at a meeting Tuesday to revise basic economic policy guidelines released last week. The cabinet plans to approve the amended version Friday.

The government said June 5 that it will accept more foreign workers by "creating a new residency status aimed at employment."

Concerns about safety from some Liberal Democratic Party members prompted additional language to "advance measures against illegal residence or abuse of the refugee system."

Despite an agreement in principle last week, the politicians conveyed concerns about more foreign workers from local neighborhood associations and questions about how the plan is different from an immigration policy.

LDP members who support an increase in foreign workers successfully lobbied last month to ease the barriers to entry for unskilled workers. The proposal says applicants for the new work permit should have basic conversation skills in Japanese.

But some of the politicians at Tuesday's meeting expressed dismay at setting up a language barrier since it will prevent some countries from sending workers.

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