Japan's cabinet has approved draft legislation to loosen the country's immigration rules.
The relaxed laws would create two new visa categories to allow foreigners in sectors with labour shortages to enter the country.
Japan has restrictive immigration laws and accepts few workers from other countries.
But new rules could allow blue-collar workers in the construction, farming and healthcare sectors to work there.
Workers in the first visa category will be allowed to work in the country for five years, and bring their families, if they have a certain level of skill and some proficiency in Japanese.
Workers with a higher level of skills would qualify for the second visa category and would eventually be allowed to apply for residency.
The draft legislation needs to be approved by parliament and is facing criticism from opposition parties, who have expressed concern about its potential impact on wages and the crime rate.