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Japan immigration

Japan enacts divisive foreign worker bill to ease labor shortage

New visa program aims to bring in 345,000 blue-color laborers over five years

Opposition lawmakers protested against the Upper House committee chairman's move to vote on the foreign worker bill early Saturday morning. (Photo by Shinya Sawai)

TOKYO -- Japan's parliament passed a bill early Saturday morning that will create a new foreign worker program to help address labor shortages, opening the country's doors to blue-collar laborers in a major policy shift. 

The ruling Liberal Democratic Party and Komeito, with some support from opposition members, pushed the revisions to the immigration control law through the upper house despite protests from the opposition camp. The bill, which had already cleared the lower house on Nov. 27, passed 161 to 76. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's government plans to launch the visa program in April.

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