– Abe: Japan needs foreign workers –
Japan’s rapidly ageing population and shrinking workforce has prompted economists both in and outside the country to call for programmes inviting young foreign workers to help support the world’s third largest economy.
However the country remains almost constitutionally allergic to immigration. Japan allows only a small number of unskilled workers in amid fears they would threaten the culture of consensus, and the government has said that less than two percent of the population is classed as “non-Japanese”.
The result for Japan, critics have told AFP previously, is ranks of poorly-protected employees brought in through the national back door, ripe for abuse and exploitation.
Abe has previously said he will expand an internship scheme implemented in the 1990s bringing tens of thousands of foreign workers into the country.
The prime minister has said foreign labour will increasingly be needed, particularly in the booming construction industry ahead of the Tokyo Olympics 2020, and in healthcare.
Around a quarter of Japan’s 127-million population is aged 65 or over, according to government figures. This proportion is expected to rise to 40 percent over the coming decades.
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