The government is considering creation of a new term-limited residence status for foreigners who have finished the Technical Intern Training Program that would reportedly allow them to stay and work in Japan for up to five years. It would be a step forward if the new status indeed leads to improvement in their work conditions; some of them are allegedly subjected to abusive labor practices while working as interns. It should also help address the increasingly tight manpower shortages that confront employers in various sectors.

The measure is in response to an order given by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during a February meeting of the government's Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy, for a prompt review of the existing framework of accepting foreign workers in the face of the labor crunch brought on by the nation's aging and declining population.

The plan is likely to be featured in the government's fiscal and economic policy blueprint to be compiled sometime around June. A revision to the Immigration Control Law to introduce the measure could be submitted to the Diet as early as this fall.