While Donald Trump calls for an immigration crackdown in the US, Japan is getting ready to open its doors a little wider. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's cabinet on Friday approving a draft bill that would allow more blue-collar workers in from overseas. Immigration has long been a taboo subject here, where even today, some think that Japan should be for the Japanese.
But as Reuters' Linda Sieg reports, businesses are pushing for change.>> Japan needs workers right now. It also needs workers in the coming years and decades. Right now, the economy is quite robust and the labor market is the tightest it's been in four decades. That's partly because already due to the aging and shrinking population, the workforce has begun to shrink.
We're running up to the Olympics in 2020, there's a lot of construction. So the construction sector is hurting, many sectors are hurting.>> The new legislation could give a boost to sectors like agriculture, construction, nursing care, and hospitality. In these industries, long-term workers are hard to come by.
>> Japan already has nearly 1.3 million foreign workers. A large chunk of those, however, are here through loopholes in the system. One being what they call trainee system, technical trainees who come, ostensibly, to learn skills and go back to their country. But this has been basically abused as a source of foreign workers.
>> The bill would create two new visa categories that could open the door to as many as half a million blue-collar workers from countries like China, Vietnam, and the Philippines, workers who could potentially stay in Japan. Critics say that these changes could hurt wages for Japanese, lead to more crime, and put pressure on welfare programs.
But according to a recent survey, 51% of voters think the country needs the extra help. The government is hoping to pass the bill by the end of the year.