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Gov't Japanese-language tests required to work in Japan to be conducted in 8 Asian countries

People from Brazil learn the Japanese language at Izumo Social Welfare Center in Shimane Prefecture, on Dec. 1, 2018. (Mainichi/Hideyuki Yamada)

TOKYO -- The Japanese government has decided to conduct Japanese-language tests for prospective foreign workers from eight Asian countries hoping to come to the country as part of new labor policy, people linked to the government have disclosed.

Passing the test will be a requirement for those foreign nationals to be able to work in Japan under the new residency statuses, set to be introduced in April 2019 to alleviate severe labor shortages. Seven of the eight countries are Vietnam, China, the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, Myanmar and Cambodia. The eighth remaining country is still in negotiations with the Japanese government.

Japan intends to sign agreements with the governments of those countries so that information about malicious job placement brokers can be shared. Such brokers have abused applicants for Japan's existing Technical Intern Training Program by forcing them to pay a large sum in a deposit to get a slot in the program.

The government panel to prepare for the acceptance of more foreign workers is scheduled to put together a comprehensive support plan for them by the end of December. The package would include measures to make it easier for foreign workers to open bank accounts in Japan so that they can confirm the payment of their salaries on their own. This is due the government's requirement that employers pay new foreign laborers salaries at least equivalent to that of Japanese workers. Technical trainees cannot open bank accounts and many have received pay in cash.

The plan also calls for the establishment of about 100 consultation centers in all of the nation's 47 prefectures to help foreign workers settle problems in their daily lives.

Meanwhile, the Judicial Affairs Division of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) submitted a set of proposals on accepting foreign workers to Justice Minister Takashi Yamashita on Dec. 11. The eight-point package describes challenges faced by and requests from local governments that would have to support foreign residents. Measures called for by the LDP division include making it possible for foreign workers to access necessary information in times of disasters and encouraging them to pay taxes.

(Japanese original by Takeshi Wada, City News Department)

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