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With the unemployment rate approaching a perilous 2 percent, a labor shortage is manifesting itself as a clear and present danger for the Japanese economy. Predictably, immigration was the first item on Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s agenda as he got back to work after winning a third term as president of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party.

Even though “guest workers” seems to remain the preferred terminology in the world of Japanese politics, the tone of the immigration discussion has undoubtedly shifted toward a more pragmatic approach to encourage long-term foreign workers, instead of trainees or student-visa holders who typically work in Japan for only a few years before returning to their home countries.

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