The government Friday approved legislation to abolish the existing technical intern program for foreign nationals and create a new system to train foreign workers amid labor shortages in the country.

The new system is intended to train unskilled foreign workers so that they will be able to acquire Type 1 residency status granted to foreign workers with so-called specified skills, to allow them to work in Japan for the medium to long term.

The government plans to submit to the current parliamentary session the legislation to amend related laws, including the immigration control and refugee recognition law, to replace the intern program with the training system. The new system is expected to begin as early as 2027 if the legislation is enacted.