”There is no immigrant in Japan” in theory, while there are over 1 million  foreign workers 

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Pick of the week from Japan, 19 – 23 June

”There is no immigrants in Japan” in theory, while there are over 1 million  foreign workers

As a consequence of decreasing number of young population, foreign work force has become indispensable especially for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Japan. It’s not unusual to see foreign student working in restaurants or convenience stores in large cities. (Source: Digital Asahi newspaper, 21 June)

When I found this article, I’ve thought “Better late than never”.

Despite the reality, there is no official status of immigrants in the Japanese administration. There is no law or official rules for immigrants in the country yet. The present foreign workers are accepted as trainees or part time workers within a framework of part-time job allowed to foreign students.

It is a long-lasting habit of Japan not to seriously take fundamental requirements, such as immigration. Instead the country always lived with a walk-around solution by allowing de facto foreign workers as “exceptions” or “temporary” solutions.

But how long is “temporary”?

Though strong resistance to changes may be a sign of stability of society in one sense, foreign workers case in Japan is not. It is merely a sign of attitude of law makers not to be involved issues which they are not interested.

It is time for all the Japanese to start thinking of what society they wish to create with non-Japanese people living in the country. We must discuss and think how to live with people with variety of nationalities. This is an obligation in the era when cross-border mobility of workforce is a matter of practice.

  • The news items referred here are picked up from “Asahi Digital”, and translated by Europe-Japan Dynamics. The cited titles or articles are not an official translation by the Asahi Newspaper.


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