• Kyodo

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The government on Friday adopted a set of proposals to lure more foreign housekeeping professionals and establish a new system for regional nursery staff as part of efforts to promote women’s participation in the economy.

The Cabinet plans to submit a bill to the extraordinary Diet session to revise the law on strategic special zones. The 63-day extraordinary session started Sept. 29.

The government plans to execute the measures in the special zones before applying them to the rest of the country.

An 11-member panel comprising Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, five Cabinet ministers and five private-sector experts adopted the package at a meeting the same day, with Abe saying the plans will lead to the creation of new industries and fresh job opportunities.

Under the current system, only foreign diplomats are allowed to employ foreign housekeepers. The new plan allows foreign workers employed by housework services companies to stay in the special zones.

Under the plan, regional nursery staff will be allowed to work in the special zones for around three years and later be allowed to work in the rest of the country. They are expected to get clearance to work in Kanagawa Prefecture first, the plan said without elaborating.

The package also covers education measures by allowing local governments to set up schools and entrust their management to the private sector.

It also contains plans to relax restrictions on human resource centers for the elderly to expand their working hours from 20 hours per week to 40 hours.

The package also calls for establishing centers to help Japanese and foreigners set up corporations and relax conditions for launching companies.

The five ministers on the panel are Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Taro Aso, Shigeru Ishiba, minister in charge of regional revitalization, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, Akira Amari, minister in charge of economic and fiscal policy, and Haruko Arimura, minister in charge of administrative reform and regulatory reform.

The five private-sector members are Reiko Akiike, senior partner and managing director of the Boston Consulting Group, Masahiro Sakane, former president and current adviser of construction machinery maker Komatsu Ltd., Ken Sakamura, professor at the University of Tokyo’s graduate school, Heizo Takenaka, professor at Keio University, and Tatsuo Hatta, professor at Osaka University.

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