• Kyodo

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Cabinet ministers discussed Friday how to raise the number of foreigners in the construction sector to ease a serious labor shortage caused by the rise in public works spending under the “Abenomics” stimulus policy, officials said.

Ministers present at the meeting included Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, land and infrastructure minister Akihiro Ota and Justice Minister Sadakazu Tanigaki, whose remit includes immigration.

The envisioned steps are also designed to soften the labor shortage expected for construction related to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the officials said.

The number of construction workers in Japan has been generally following a downward path in recent years, as a string of administrations, starting with that of Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, reduced public works spending.

The number stood at only 5.03 million in 2012, down 30 percent from the peak in 1997, the officials said.

The situation has grown grave enough that local governments have been having trouble drawing bids by construction companies for public projects.

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