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Japan immigration

Japan to help small businesses take on more foreign workers

Multilingual contact centers to open ahead of anticipated labor influx

To cope with labor shortages, Japan is opening its doors to more foreign workers.   © Reuters

TOKYO -- The Japanese government will provide assistance to small and midsize businesses employing or planning to employ foreigners, as the country seeks to secure enough labor to keep its economy humming.

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry will open some 30 multiligual help centers around the country, particularly in municipalities with large foreign workforces. It will also offer workshops in different regions to provide advice to employers.

To fund these programs, METI earmarked 100 million yen ($876,000) as part of its fiscal 2019 budget request. Tapping know-how in the construction industry, which has a history of hiring migrant workers, the ministry will also provide guidance on labor management and tips on life in Japan.

The stepped-up efforts come as Japan readies to open its doors wider to overseas workers from next April. Under an expanded residency program, the country will take on upward of half a million foreign workers in such manufacturing fields as casting, forging and metal pressing, as well as in industries like fishing and food service.

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