Immigrants in Japan

by Kensuke Kubo

In the lecture of International sociology, we learned about the transnational migrants in the United States. We Japanese people have no interests about such a problem of immigrants because Japanese government was having not approved receiving them officially. But, in fact, it was started that immigrants from Philippine and Indonesia has been received officially since 2008. I would like to talk about this and describe some point at issue.

In the 2006 and 2007, Japan concluded the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with Philippines and Indonesia. EPA is an economic arrangement that eliminates barriers to the free movement of goods, services, and investment between countries. When Japan concluded EPA with Philippines and Indonesia, Japanese government decided to receive the immigrants working as caregivers in Japan. Last year, my professor told us the reason why Japan received immigrants officially in that time. His name is Mitoji Yabunaka, who was the vice minister of ministry of Foreign Affairs Japan. When he was in the ministry of Foreign Affairs, he decided receiving immigrants because of Japan’s present state about the problem of aging society with fewer children.

Japan is now faced with the huge problem which is population aging. Last year, Economist, the UK’s magazine, made a feature titled “Japan’s burden”. The article said Japan is the fastest-ageing society on Earth and the first big country in history to have started shrinking rapidly from natural causes. As the article said, old people are more and more increasing in Japan. However, to support those old people, it is required that people who supports them as a caregiver or a nurse. Against the increasing of old people, caregiver is decreasing little by little. Now, in Japan, the number of caregiver is about 2 million, but it is required about more 400 thousand people until 2020. The reason why the scene of nursing is suffering from a shortage of workers is the environment of the work. Some people said it is the 3K work which means きつい(hard work), 危険(danger) 給与が安い(cheap income). So, people do not want to engage or cannot continue working as a caregiver.

Since 2008, receiving immigrants were started. According to the agreement, in fact, Japan had to receive them at least 1,000 immigrants from each country within 2 years, but now, 2012, the target cannot achieve yet because of the language barrier, and the system of receiving. Almost Pilipino and Indonesian can speak English, and there are many immigrants receiving programs in the world. For example, Canada has same program as working caregivers. Wages are almost same, and Canada is an English-speaking country, so it is natural for them to choose Canada because they can speak English. The system I said above is that when they want to stay more than 2 years, they must pass the state examination for the license to work as caregivers. If they fail the exam, they cannot work in Japan.

As you see, Japanese government is not serious about receiving immigrants. Vice minister of Foreign Affairs I said before think that Japan has to solve the ageing society to receive foreigners. But some minister like ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare think that receiving foreigners is bad for Japanese unemployment people. There are bad confrontations in government, so actual immigrants are caught in a dilemma now. I think government has to integrate their opinion and make unify policy about immigrants.


Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, the report of care insurance policy.
Mitoji Yabunaka, Kokka no meiun(Fate of a nation).Tokyo:Shinchosya,2010.

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