by Yurika Chiba
The number of foreigners is small in Japan compared to other countries. Basically, it is said that Japan is mono-cultural, homogeneous and monolingual society. For example, all of my classmates in high school were Japanese who have black hair and speak Japanese. We did not have opportunities to interact with foreigners in Japan. When we see foreigners, we feel they are “different” because they do not look like Japanese. It is hard for foreigners to live in such a society, I think. For instance, there was an international student in my high school. She was from America and had gold hair. I mean her appearance was completely different as Japanese. We saw her as “gaijin.” We did not know how to communicate with her although we wanted to get along with her. Finally, she could not fit in our class. One of the reasons why Japan has few foreigners is that Japanese society is said to be homogeneous. Therefore, Japanese people tend to refuse foreigners and different cultures. However, it is time to change Japanese society to make comfortable society for foreigners because globalization has been expanding. I mean that Japan needs foreigners in order to lead to economic growth.
The number of immigrants would be increasing if Japan became comfortable place to live for foreigners. Immigrants are important to solve some problems in Japan. In particular, the problem about the declining birth rate and a growing proportion of elderly people. For example, immigrants come to Japan in order to work and marry Japanese people. Their children probably will also work in Japan. This will help increase the population long term and help to solve Japanese population crisis. Immigrants have an important role in Japan.
However, Japan has difficult problems to solve in order to absorb immigrants. There are strict rules of immigrants in Japan. In addition, the rules are different from their countries. It is said that the crime rate will go up if immigrants increase. Japan might not be ready to receive immigrants. Japan should make new laws about immigrants. For instance, new laws to allow immigrants to live in Japan easily. The laws suitable for immigration should be established. Besides the laws, Japanese people need to change values like understanding different cultures. For example, Japanese children should be educated in English since a kindergarten. They can go abroad more often and communicate with foreigners easier if they can speak English well. I think English has a important role to accept immigrants.
Japan has some difficulty of absorbing immigrants. Japanese government and Japanese citizens should be aware of and solve these problems. Of course, things cannot be changed soon. It takes much time to make better society for immigrants. Japan has to do what it can do for immigrants immediately. I hope that my children or grandchildren would be free of prejudice and live in multinational society in the future.
You have written a very fine letter. As an American, I’ve been to Japan for a week and enjoyed the visit very much. Japan should be very careful on increasing immigration. Providing suitable schools and other education is very costly. Crime can go up, and we in America have many thousands of immigrants in our prison system because they did not, or could not, learn our laws and how to obey them. Our best immigrants are those who came here legally and with valuable work skills. Even they sometimes have problems fitting in.
Japan is a wonderful, admirable, nation. Please consider the merits of keeping your culture Japanese. We have much to learn from Japan.
Thank you for the comment. As I have repeatedly noted on this blog, the only association between immigration and crime is that crime decreases as immigration increases. Studies of decades of data, referenced with links in other posts on the blog, have shown this repeatedly. Similarly in Japan, immigrants are not more likely to commit crime than native residents. Connecting immigration with crime is nothing more than prejudice and stereotyping.
Note that I said that “crime can go up.” I rely, in part, on this information source: Immigration and Crime Assessing a Conflicted IssueBy Steven A. Camarota and Jessica M. Vaughan ww.cis.org/sites/cis.org/files/articles/2009/crime.pdf
The actual crime rate in Japan could plausibly reflect such variables as illegal versus legal immigrants, incoming education and skill levels, age dispersions, etc.
The Southern Poverty Law Center has published a lengthy critique of the Center for Immigration Studies, calling it a nativist organization and not the independent research center it claims to be.