Amid a steady rise in the number of foreign residents, the Diet on Friday unanimously enacted a law that spells out for the first time the government's responsibility for systematically promoting Japanese-language education.

Experts largely hailed the legislation as a step forward in a country where the absence of legal and fiscal backing has long dissuaded municipalities from taking active steps to teach the language to foreign residents.

The law, however, is fundamentally philosophical, and avoids mapping out specific measures that should be taken by the government. Its effectiveness will also likely hinge on how much funding it receives.