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Abe denies revising law will lead to unlimited acceptance of immigrants

Yukio Edano, leader of the largest opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, asks Prime Minister Shinzo Abe questions about his policy speech at a plenary session of the House of Representatives on Oct. 29, 2018. (Mainichi)

TOKYO -- Prime Minister Shinzo Abe denied at the House of Representatives on Oct. 29 that proposed revisions to the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act to expand the acceptance of foreign workers will lead to a policy of unlimitedly accepting immigrants.

"We have no intention of taking a so-called immigration policy (of unlimitedly accepting immigrants). Revisions are aimed at accepting industry-ready human resources for limited periods of time," Abe said. "We're considering improving the working environment, improving Japanese-language education, helping foreign workers find residences and encouraging them to take out social security insurance policies."

The lower house plenary session that began on Oct. 29 is an opportunity for leaders and other high-ranking members of ruling and opposition parties to ask questions about the policy speech that the prime minister delivered at the outset of the extraordinary Diet session on Oct. 24. This is the first time that Prime Minister Abe has answered questions from political parties in the Diet since he reshuffled his Cabinet on Oct. 2.

Abe also emphasized that the government will implement measures to prevent a consumption tax increase from the current 8 percent to 10 percent, scheduled for October 2019, from worsening the economic environment.

"We'll implement all possible policy measures to prevent the hike from adversely affecting the economy," the premier said.

Abe expressed enthusiasm about adding a paragraph stipulating the existence of the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) to war-renouncing Article 9 of the Constitution as part of revisions to the postwar supreme law. "It's the responsibility of politicians to create an environment in which all SDF members can fulfill their duties with strong pride."

As for Japan's relations with South Korea, Abe deplored the current status by touching on the South Korean navy's request that Maritime Self-Defense Force refrain from flying the "rising sun" flag during an international fleet review in Jeju. The flag is perceived in South Korea as a symbol of Japan's militarism before the end of World War II.

The premier also complained about a visit by a group of South Korean legislators to the Takeshima Islands in Shimane Prefecture, which is claimed by Japan but controlled by South Korea, as a move that runs counter to the two countries' goals of improving bilateral ties.

"We've confirmed that our two countries will cooperate in establishing future-oriented relations. It's regrettable that there are such moves running counter to such cooperation," Abe told the session.

On Oct. 30, Abe faces further questioning about his policy speech by the LDP's junior coalition partner Komeito, a group called Mushozoku-no-kai comprised of independent legislators who belonged to the now defunct Democratic Party, the Japanese Communist Party and Nippon Ishin (Japan Innovation Party).

(Japanese original by Jun Aoki, Political News Department)

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