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Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ruling coalition bulldozed a controversial immigration bill through the Lower House on Tuesday, taking a key step toward initiating a new visa system meant to address the country’s acute labor shortages.

Attempts by opposition parties to block the bill have significantly delayed deliberations and its progress in the chamber. But after hours of delay, the Lower House Committee on Judicial Affairs, controlled by the ruling bloc, approved the bill amid a fierce outcry from opposition representatives. The bill was endorsed at a plenary session of the chamber and was immediately sent to the Upper House.

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