In a bid to ease driver shortages, the transport ministry is working with relevant government agencies to add driving buses as a specified skill to the specified skilled foreign worker program, minister Tetsuo Saito said Tuesday.

"We'll make various efforts to ensure that local residents and tourists have access to necessary means of transportation," Saito told a news conference.

The ministry is also considering designating driving taxis and trucks as specified skills with which foreign workers can be granted long-term residency in Japan.

The government aims to have related rules revised by the end of fiscal 2023 through next March, in order to make the additions.

Japan is expected to suffer serious labor shortages in the transportation sector as an overtime cap of 960 hours a year will be introduced next April for automobile driving jobs under the revised labor standards law.

Trade groups for bus, taxi and truck services have asked the government to add vehicle driving to the specified skills for the program, which was introduced in 2019 to secure workers. It currently covers 12 areas, such as elderly care and restaurant services.