I wrote in January about a tentative suggestion that Japanese language ability be counted in your favour when applying for visas.
Now, Asahi Shimbun reports in Japanese and English that a firm plan is being announced today. And it seems it might really be an easing of restrictions as a way to encourage language ability (rather than a roundabout way of imposing further restrictions on those with little language skill). Among other things, the article mentions extending visa durations to five rather than the current three years; and relaxed qualifications for the professional visas. As it happens, the vague rumours of a revamped Japanese Language Proficiency Test seem to be solidifying as well, with documents floating around suggesting the possibility of testing language use in some manner, not just understanding.