Accepting immigrants in Japan

by Yuri Kasai

From Asian countries such as the Philippines, Korea, and China, many immigrants have come to Japan. After World War II, the Japanese government accepted many Nikkeijin (日系人), who have one Japanese parent or Japanese parents under the Immigration Control Act of 1952 and taking part in the convention of international immigration. Since the 1970s, in the bubble economy, there were four categories of immigrants, according to sociologist Hiroshi Komai. Firstly, many immigrants such as Filipinos, Koreans, Taiwanese and Thais have come for entertainment work and they can get an ‘entertainer’ visa. Secondly, refugees from Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos have come to Japan for the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees between 1970s and 1980s. The third category consists of Japanese group who went to Manchuria during the World War II. The fourth category consists of businessmen in Europe and the US.

Japanese Immigration laws are more limited to European countries and the US because Japanese society has not accepted immigrants historically. After the crackdown of the bubble economy, the number of immigrants from Europe and the US dropped. However, globalization has been widespread today and immigrants have grown again while international companies come to open their brunches in Japan. The Japanese immigration system needs to be amended because we need to accept more immigrants than before.

In Japan, 24 percent of the population is over 65 years of age, and in 2055 this aged people is estimated as 40 percent of Japan’s total population. We will need more care workers and nurses. We already lack the number of care workers and nurses because these jobs are tough for long working time and heavy tasks. They have a low salary and they struggle to work as care workers and nurses. We need to foster more care workers and nurses and to give higher salary to them.

However, it is difficult for Japan government to use money for more public service because the government holds deficits financing for the pension. Therefore, Japanese government needs to invite more immigrants from Asian developing countries such as the Philippines and to foster immigrants to support our aging society. Especially, Filipino women can care well for elderly people because they have the culture to respect for elder people. Many Filipino women emigrates overseas such as in the US or the UK. They can speak English well and can adopt to an English-speaking environment.

In Japan, although Japan accepts many Filipino women with the skills of nurse or caregivers in the hospitals, Japan government mandates them to pass though each skill exam and Japanese proficiency exam. Because of it, many Filipino nurses or caregivers cannot pass through national qualifying exam and have to go back to their home country. However, they can study Japanese while communicating with patients after they can pass through their skill exam. I think that getting human resources is the urgent problem. The government needs to reconsider and deal with the aging society and the deficit finance for the pensions. Accepting immigrants is a good solution to aging society.

Komai, Hiroshi. 2000 “Immigrants in Japan. Asian And Pacific Migration Journal 9(3):311-326.


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.

International Migration

by Wataru Yukita

International migration has increased in recent years. In Japan, some people say that Japan should accept many immigrants to increase production power because of a decline in working age population. However, is that right? I have a skeptical view for this opinion.

At the beginning, I agree that Japan becomes more tolerance to foreigners. In Japan, many people (especially in Internet) agree to deport illegal immigrant who have worked properly, it is funny in common sense. Giving permanent residency to the foreigners who work seriously in low wage job and raise children born in Japan is a right policy, compared to give preferential treatment to idle Japanese. I think that accepting many immigrants in order to increase economic growth without thinking is the opposite.

First, who is pay cost to accept immigrants? Though there is no problem for company and farmers that simply want cheap labor, local government and autonomy must ensure house for immigrants, education on their children, social welfare and so on. Many local governments confront shortage of revenue. So, could they take measures of these problems? I think that it is very difficult. If many children of immigrants could not get education and they make poor, Japan will face social problems of difference in race like western countries. Immigrants have human right, not machine. Because we accept “human”, we must guarantee life as human beings for everyone. If we wouldn’t do so, our society will collapse in morality. Company and other organization that simply want cheap labor should be criticized.

Second, are there any people who really want to immigrate to Japan? Many developing countries have a problem of decline birth rate and a growing population of elderly people while economic growth. Many workers are in need in these countries as well as Japan. If Japan promotes immigration policy, Can Japan collected many immigrants? I have doubts about this idea.

Finally, multiculturalism is very difficult to achieve. This can be presumed from European countries and United States that have accepted many immigrants. In these countries, immigrant policy is a major issue in election every time. Of course, this is true of presidential election in United States coming soon. Japan, have never experienced of acceptance of immigrants, are not even start these discussion in level in the Member of Parliament.

That is why I disagree to accept many immigrants in Japan. However, we need to discuss this problem for the future in Japan.