The immigrant issue in Japan

by Asako Morita

Because the lecture last week by guest speaker was quite inspiring, I decided to research more about immigrant in Japan. Even though Japan has been welcoming more immigrants these days, it is still far from multicultural society compared to other countries. Therefore, as guest speaker insisted, the issues and problems of minority are easily ignored or invisible to the masses until minority in a trouble raises voice as a group. Then I would like to seek how Japanese government should make the policy to invite more immigrants.

First, I would like to demonstrate general information about immigrants in Japan. According to the statistic of national census, more than 2 million foreign workers are now in Japan. This number is still low compared to other developed countries such as the U.S. but it is almost increased twice than 10 years ago. 1.6 millions of people are from Asia and Chinese is the major immigrants in 2011. The next biggest number is from South America especially from Brazil. In the total number, almost half of them are women. However, like 75 percent of Philippines immigrants are women, the number of sex rate is quite different from each country. Because more and more immigrants or foreign workers have come to Japan, issues are getting defined.

Second, I would like to analyze what issues immigrants and foreign workers in Japan have. The one of the biggest issue is about an employment. Now, Japan is facing the issue of dwindling birthrate and an aging population. The concern from presence situation is shrinking of the labor force. On top of that, Japan is now in a depression so what enterprises in Japan have needed was the expectation of wage control. Then companies want 20 to 30 years old young simple labors and expected workers to go home before they get old. However, this turning over of young foreign workers cannot solve the issue of decreasing labor force. On the contrast, if a specific age group stays in Japan, Japanese composition of population becomes distorted.

Although if Japan succeeds in receiving numbers of immigrants, they may have hard time get used to living in Japanese society. Because Japanese life style is quite different from others, a friction might be caused and mass of immigrants would make a community by country where someone is from. Once Japanese government promotes to accelerate to receive immigrates, it is hard to stop it even though the situation changes.

Therefore, what I suggest is that Japan should make up the comfortable working environment for elderly people, women and foreign workers who are eager to work. And also, Japan has to break away from winning low cost competition model. Not only young simple foreign labors but also more and more skilled foreign workers should be welcomed. This is the way Japan survives in global economy under globalization.

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