New law states gov't responsible for teaching Japanese to foreigners
Japan Today -- Jun 22
The Diet on Friday passed a bill stipulating for the first time the responsibility of the central and municipal governments for promoting Japanese-language education for foreign residents after Japan opened up to more overseas workers this April.

Japanese municipalities hosting large foreign communities have long been providing language education and other support on their own, but the central government had been slow in its response and criticized for its lack of assistance.

Under the legislation, the central government is responsible for carrying out comprehensive measures, including introducing necessary legal and fiscal measures, to ensure foreign residents of various backgrounds ranging from students to refugees receive language education in accordance with their wishes and circumstances.

The law calls for enhancing the quality of education at various institutions, which is said to vary greatly, and improving the salaries of Japanese-language teachers. It also asks employers of foreign nationals to provide language education to them and their families.

To come up with comprehensive policies, the education and foreign ministries as well as other government agencies will set up a convention to be advised by a panel of experts.

The legislation initiated by lawmakers was compiled as Japan introduced a new visa system in April to accept more foreign blue-collar workers, a move that is expected to further expand foreign communities in the country.

The number of foreign nationals in Japan stood at a record-high 2.73 million as of the end of last year, up 6.6 percent from a year before, according to the Justice Ministry.

Under the new visa program, the government expects up to about 345,000 foreign workers in the 14 labor-hungry sectors such as accommodation, nursing care, construction and farming over the next five years.

News source: Japan Today
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