A long-sought immigration system that will provide Japanese working families, and working women in particular, with much-needed help and create a more multiethnic Japan, or an ill-considered political sop to female voters that will lead to discrimination and human rights abuses?

That's the question being asked in Osaka and elsewhere as the prefecture begins discussions with the central government on setting itself up as a specially designated zone to accept foreign domestic laborers.

In June, the Kansai national special zone committee met for the first time in Osaka to discuss the plan, which was announced by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe the same month, to make Kyoto, Hyogo and Osaka prefectures one of six new zones where bureaucratic regulations for industry will be relaxed in the hope of nurturing new industries and creating jobs — for both women and men. On hand for the meeting were Yoshitaka Shindo, state minister in charge of decentralization, Osaka Gov. Ichiro Matsui and Hyogo Gov. Toshizo Ido, as well as senior Kansai business leaders.