The government on Friday formally decided to abolish the controversial foreign technical intern program, marking a significant shift in its approach to workers from overseas. In its place, there will be a new system enabling long-term residency.

The new system is aimed at bringing foreign workers up to a certain skill level within three years, paving the way for a long-term stay in Japan.

The plan also allows for conditional transfers to different workplaces within the same field after a certain period, a departure from the previous program’s emphasis on transferring technical skills back to developing countries. Instead, it will focus on securing and developing essential workers from abroad to tackle Japan's current labor shortage, which is being exacerbated by its shrinking population.