A law enacted last week to promote Japanese-language education is significant in that for the first time it highlighted the government’s responsibility to beef up language education for foreign residents — a key foundation of their life in this country. The number of people from overseas living and working in Japan is expected to keep growing, particularly with the April introduction of new visa statuses to open the door to foreign workers in blue-collar jobs. But measures to help foreign residents overcome the language barrier remain insufficient. The national and local governments need to quickly flesh out the legislation’s objectives with concrete policy steps backed by sufficient funding.
Proposed by a group of lawmakers across party lines and approved unanimously by the Diet, the legislation calls on the government to take comprehensive measures, including legal and fiscal steps, to secure opportunities for foreign residents to receive Japanese-language education in accordance with their needs and wishes.