Japan’s foreign minister says country to open to foreigners

HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — Japan’s foreign minister says his country is bound to accept more foreign workers as its own population is on the brink of a steep decline.

Taro Kono told a World Economic Forum meeting in Hanoi that Japan gains “value added” by accepting foreigners willing to assimilate.

He cited tennis star Naomi Osaka, daughter of a Japanese mother and a Haitian father, as an example of the benefits of diversity. Osaka is being lauded in Japan as the first from the country to win a Grand Slam singles tennis title, an accomplishment that provoked debate over what it means to be Japanese.

Kono says Japan is drafting a new work permit system and gearing up to open its labor market.

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Japan’s quickly aging population has been shrinking for several years.

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