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The planned restrictions on foreign entertainers, mostly affecting women from the Philippines, will be put in place during the first half of March, government officials said Sunday.

The government had wanted to make the move this month.

The government decided on the postponement to take ample time to publicize the restrictions throughout Japan’s entertainment industry and for preparations by the Justice Ministry’s Immigration Bureau, the officials said.

Because about 80,000 Philippine nationals arrive in Japan every year to work under entertainer visas, Manila dispatched officials to Japan last month to request that the restrictions be delayed five years due to the anticipated serious impact on the Philippine economy.

“It is illegal for somebody entering Japan with an entertainer visa to work as a hostess,” a senior Immigration Bureau official said. “We should correct the current situation in which the number of such Filipino women is much higher than those from other countries.”

Of the 2,128 letters or e-mail messages sent to the ministry by early January in response to its request for public opinion, 1,924, or more than 90 percent, are against the restrictions.

But the ministry said it believes much of the correspondence was written by the same people or groups, probably including bars that employ such women as hostesses, and the customers of such establishments.

Of the letters and e-mail messages, 65 support the restrictions, saying the women are not working as entertainers and have fallen victim to human trafficking.

The government formally decided on an action plan Dec. 7 to combat human trafficking with stricter regulations on the entry of foreigners with entertainer visas, most of whom come from the Philippines.

Japan has come under international pressure after a U.S. State Department report in June downgraded its assessment of this nation’s efforts to fight human trafficking.

There is a widespread view that entertainment visas are often used to facilitate human trafficking, with the female holders of such visas ending up in Japan’s sex industry.

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