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Tokyo governor unveils plan to lure foreign business talent

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@Knox Harrington

About Japanese being relatively unimportant, it depends. If you mean not as useful as Spanish, English, French, Mandarin, Arabic, Portuguese, Indonesian or Russian, I might agree. However, I would still rank it in the top 12-13 (out of over 5000 languages) in terms of "importance" (for business, commerce or having many people who speak the language).

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There isn't racism in Japan but there is a sense of "Japanese only". That soft bigotry can in many respects be worse for a person's social and mental health than over racism. I think the mindset of uchi and soto is mostly to blame for this. Even Japanese-capable foreigners are often relegated to a certain set of social circles.

Things are definitely changing, but I think this article makes it clear the attitude remains to have a "foreigner zone" in Tokyo is frankly sort of pathetic and laughable. It sort of exposes how far behind the curve Japan is on inter-cultural relations compared to America or Europe. To be fair though, I think things have improved dramatically since the 1980s.

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Tokyo needs this, but it will take more than a relaxation of the regulations and I doubt there is much external pent up demand to come to Tokyo.

It's an ok place to live for a couple of years as a youngish single person, but if you bring your family the overall social infrastructure is very poor.

The absence of decent sized and quality accommodation in the centre and outer parts of town; the overall absence of green spaces or quality play areas for children severely undermine the attractiveness of whatever job opportunities there may be for mid-career professionals with a family. You will not want to bring your kids up in this concrete environment.

I have never experienced any of the racism people mention here.

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"The Japanese can be extremely stubborn. To the point of cutting off their nose to spite their face. The idea of letting in mass immigration to the stubborn ones (read: pretty much the entire government), that they'd rather let the country fall flat on its face, over letting in large numbers of foreigners." - Stangerland

Then the Japanese government needs to stop asking for help from the rest of the world. Stop the needless and unhelpful "English" education in Japan that makes their students rank LAST in the world. Suck up all their problems and gaman in silence then. In the end the geezers who are unelected in the ministries will do nothing any way. They run the show not the pols. Abe is just an LDP face and little power to do anything.

The life time ministry geezers have already decided to allow Japan to fall is better than allowing Japan's uniquely unique culture to be tainted. Besides, no educated person would choose to live in a ghetto designed by the government to keep them away from the locals. I guess the pols still think expats out in public will scare the old geezers on their way to pachinko and the porn shop.

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We probably would have stayed in Japan indefinitely if it weren't for the outrageous cost of international schooling. Companies usually pay for the schooling for expats for 2-3 years, then cut funding and you're on your own to pay the 3 million+ yen per year per kid. With 2 kids and the rent and utilities, etc to pay for, being an expat in Japan loses it's luster and gives a new meaning to "kyouiku binbou."

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If Masuzoe's idea works in Tokyo. other prefectures will gradually copy Tokyo style welcome gaijin san. But first immigration system reform that Governor is expert in discussion. .

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Let us make no mistake. Strangerland makes many good points about why the Japanese might never accept immigration reform. Truthfully I agree on most of what he says, but there's one pivotal fact that changes things.

Japanese society definitely promotes the idea of gaman and jishuku, and people will be asked to endure great hardship and they will undoubtedly endure it. That said, it's been my experience that the Japanese are more willing to endure cultural hardship than economic hardship. This is evidenced in the post-WW2 years when Japan changed its entire national landscape in 5 to 10 short years. Japanese are a proud people, and I strongly believe that they will not choose failure over open borders. Put bluntly, they have precious little time and few other realistic choices.

The second point Strangerland makes is that Japan is a Buddhist country, which is entirely correct. Japanese correctly understand that suffering is by its very nature cyclical, we merely trade one form of it for another. But Japan is also a Shinto nation. In the Jomon period, off-island trade took place as early as the 3rd century. Early Shintoists believed the trade and intercharge of people aided in the growth of people's spirituality, by being exposed to new beliefs. While this change was managed internally by the various clans in charge it created a host of syncratic cultural ideals.

The 3rd point is that Japanese can be stubborn. I would agree in principle but classify it as a traditionalism that exists in Japan. I believe that the Japanese are a very proud people. So much so that they will not let the country fail -- which it certainly will -- if not for increasing the size of the labor force. Japan's current labor force is set to shrink and coupled with a ballooning elderly population this would spell catastrophe. It is not something that the Japanese can just "wait" and correct. Such problems are merely worsened with time.

I believe that the people in power will see what the right decisions are, and ask the skeptics to wait and see. The right choice is obviously to allow mass immigration. It's the only way for the nation to remain fiscally solvent or even a first-world power.

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I think your missing gaijinhewas point.

No, I think you missed my point, as can be seen with your comments here:

How can Japan remain solvent with so many non contributors to its future society (social services) and domestic economy?

How can Japan keep the status quo as you stated

The point I've been making is that the Japanese may choose insolvency over opening the country to mass immigration, which will come with its own set of problems. They may decide that keeping the country closed is preferable to the status quo.

Are you saying Japanese would rather accept a gradual decline in quality of life?

I'm saying it's a definite possibility. Here are some reasons why:

1) The Japanese have a culture of 'gaman' (enduring hardships) for the greater good. If it's decided that the greater good is to not allow mass immigration, the people will be expected to accept and deal with hardships, along with coming up with other solutions (ie - not mass immigration), in order to preserve the other status quo, which is a country that is almost entirely homogenous. 2) It's a Buddhist country. Buddhism teaches of cycles, where things get good, then bad, then good and so on. Unlike Western countries, where we have a constant need to always improve, always get better, and always have more, Buddhist countries have an expectation that today's successes will be followed by tomorrow's hardships which will then be followed again by the next day's successes. 3) The Japanese can be extremely stubborn. To the point of cutting off their nose to spite their face. The idea of letting in mass immigration to the stubborn ones (read: pretty much the entire government), that they'd rather let the country fall flat on its face, over letting in large numbers of foreigners.

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@strangerland:

I think your missing gaijinhewas point. How can Japan remain solvent with so many non contributors to its future society (social services) and domestic economy? For example, while I do not claim to be an economist, its established that pension payments must rise according to inflation. With so many pension payments, who will contribute to this fund? The pension payments will have to be slashed. How can Japan keep the status quo as you stated, if there is less money? It involves the whole cycle of outside investment, labor, youth, etc. I agree, many Japanese would love to stay in their mansions and collect their penions, but what will happen to the domestic market? Are you saying Japanese would rather accept a gradual decline in quality of life?

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Japanese society has to change in major ways to remain economically solvent, let alone competitive, in the coming years. That's just a reality of supporting a massive elderly population.

This premise relies on the assumption that the Japanese would choose remaining competitive over keeping their country the way it is. I'm not so convinced that this assumption is true.

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The one who will use Masuzoe's plan is not just labor immigrants or cafe workers type undereducated people. They will be respected by any Japanese It is beneficial to have them in Japan. Maybe Japanese will learn how to speak up. Good to Japanese society, I'd bet.

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I'm not sure that the Japanese citizens will really have much of a good choice in the matter to be honest. The only viable way to plug the labor gap is immigration. Even the oyaji seijika are starting to realize it. It's a #s game, and time isn't on Japans side here. It's the nation, or the nation.

Japanese society has to change in major ways to remain economically solvent, let alone competitive, in the coming years. That's just a reality of supporting a massive elderly population.

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@UR22335, agreed, there are differences amoungst the races. You will find, however, that societies built on racism tend to slowly collaspe or change.

@gaijinheiwa, I dont think Japan will ever become a 3rd world country. The old people have too much money. It will just change and become a great place for casino investment and tourism, with the niche factories still making unique high quality products for the rest of the world. Factories in china will still be managed from Japan, and corporate giants will always be HQ in Japan. It will just become more isolated and weird.

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The attitude won't change until the demographics shift. Japan has little choice but to change or eventually teeter off the edge into the economic abyss as a permanently third world nation.

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His idea might sound too late but he was not Tokyo Governor. It will take time. His plan does not include uneducated laborers. Need to recruit from Universities and colleges, have to get IT., CS, Finance, Marketing, and other degreed talents beside already experienced people. Since he is looking for foreign talents, no need to change structure of Japanese society. Better learn form gaijin than changing Japanese society with guessing by Japanese people.

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gaijinheiwa May. 23, 2014 - 09:16AM JST What needs to change is how Japan deals with foreign residents.

That is the view of the minority in Japan. Most Japanese would rather starve than increase immigration. Your talking about Japan. It will not change.

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No offense to the government, but this is too little and way too late. They'd need a few hundred thousand people a year at this point to plug the gap. Japan Inc's solution to all things "gai" so far is to segregate. It's hum-haw'd away with some silly statement that always begins with "wareware nihonjin"

Put bluntly, Japan needs to change if it wants to attract talented foreign workers. It will mean social reform, labor reform, easier immigration laws and higher base wages. I can speak personally to the fact that I know 5 people that have left Japan in the last year due to low wages and high work hours in the IT field.

Success is a #s game, and the numbers right now are bad for Japan. Decreasing population, rising marginal taxes, high corporate taxes, strict biz regulations and oyaji biz culture mean one thing: Permanent stagflation for Japan. What needs to change isn't the quality of foreign workers being brought to Japan.

What needs to change is how Japan deals with foreign residents.

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5petals

You know, if you are bringing up history changing DNA of Japanese, same could be said with whites, blacks or other asians, and I can say dirty thing about them with your logic, which I won't say for now.

sfjp330

I don't know much about this law, but as far as I know, the landlord need to wait several month before bringing the case to the court, and the court takes about half a month to finish so about 7~8month, landlord have to wait for the money, or can't have any if lessee has no money. But sometimes lessee tries to pay when the case is brought to the court but landlord denies to receive because that is necessary for their legal ground to kick lessee out. Also it is not just about not paying rent, correct me if I'm wrong but the US law usually allows landlords to kick lessee out when the contract period ends(of course with proper procedure). But in Japan's law, the landlord need legitimate reason to kick out lessee when the contract ends, otherwise, basically the contract keeps on renewing.

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All readers back on topic please. Posts that do not focus on what is in the story will be removed.

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ive never dealt with the issue of eviction, but when trying to move, one landlord tried to charge me 1 million yen for clean up over some marks and a wallpaper tear. Of course he never got paid.

As far as the Far East Asian racism, I agree, they all seem to do it. What I have found with Chinese however, is that they dont seem to care about the foriegner in their midst, they just go about their life. They dont want to marry or mingle with them, but they seem to be more individualistic than Japanese or Koreans. They also dont have an issue with emmigration.

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5petals May. 23, 2014 - 07:39AM JST even when they are not paying rent. Kicking out lessee in the US is probably much more easier than it is in Japan."

I am not sure of that. Even if lessee refuse to pay rent in the U.S., you cannot just kick them out. If you know the law, like some of the professional renters that take advantage of the systems, the landlord has to submit a eviction notice, and lessee signs the appeal, landlord by law cannot kick you out. They have rights. Then the landlord has to submit as a civil case and wait for the court hearing at a later date, which might be another 60 days or later. In most cases, the lessee will not show up, but you lost about 5 months of rent payment. Can you do better in Japan?

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Please dont interpret my post as racist, I have experienced racsim and its not something I wish on anybody; rather I am trying to make sense of the peculiar customs and behaviors we gaijin experience in Japan. I sometimes get it wrong when trying to apply Western logic to what I experience.

"One major reason is that Japanese law tend to protect lessee more, making it very difficult for lessor to evacuate lessee, even when they are not paying rent. Kicking out lessee in the US is probably much more easier than it is in Japan."

This is true, as is the lifetime employment system and employers reluctance to hire. This could be felt as discrimination, when its more of a custom.

Concerning Japans martial past and residue of it today, I sometimes wonder if DNA plays a role.

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5petalsMay. 22, 2014 - 10:29PM JST After several years of residence in Japan, I am convinced that the problems Japan faces have to do with the Japanese themselves.

With regards to Japan’s xenophobic attitude, it’s pretty typical of East Asian citizens. I’m sure that, if you were you were to propose the same sweeping immigration policy in South Korea and China, the citizen responses won’t differ greatly, and certainly not when they imagine the immigrant candidates to be each other. But the fact is, even outside of East Asia, xenophobia is a default human instinct. It took a tremendous amount of ideological change, civil movements, and media political correctness to make immigration look positive in the Western world, and even then, it’s only in few countries like the U.S., which have a continuous history of mass immigration, that present day immigration isn’t looked upon negatively. East Asian countries have not gone through the same process, and are not remotely ready for the same amount of immigration.

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Maybe Japanese corporations will have employment screening procedure wimple so that potential talents will be employed. After employed, if corporations do not have employees housing facilities, maybe better to look outside. Not because cheap (usually to be discriminated) but comfortable area. Use i-phone;s video camera to record any encounter with police. I would not recommend giving koban police anything but Christmas Present made in USA, etc might ease their mind. Make sure take tag out because often made in China. Give a good impression that you are not a stuck up gaijin. Oh, just my suggestion.

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His idea is to invite foreign talents, not executives. I am very sure that Japan Inc, that operate in elsewhere thanJapan love this idea. Just English language skill as English is used in either second or first language in almost every country in the World. Even Japan has English language classes since middle school. Speaking Japanese is not priority. Japan has shortage in manpower, anyway, Even Japan begins to employ Japanese women, still shortage in manpower.

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my two biggest complaints with japan are housing discrimination and police harrasment. the former is no secret but i think the latter may not be well known to many japanese. a friend of mine was shocked when we were walking and the police stopped and searched me because i didnt look japanese

I'm sure this does happen, but does it really happen that much? I've never been searched here, and I've been here coming up on two decades.

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" I still think it is better to blame education system or gov rather than individuals."

No, its easier to blame the education system than to change yourself.

After several years of residence in Japan, I am convinced that the problems Japan faces have to do with the Japanese themselves. Now what I am about to suggest, or "float", should not be construed as racist, or that I am promoting eugenics; its simply an observation based on many years of experience in Japan. There are traits and behaviors in European countries that are annoying as well, and could also be related to this topic. While watching the Discovery channel, I saw Morgan Freeman discussing how culture might be responsible for DNA changes. An example shown was how Europeans are lactose tolerant, whilst Aisians are not, and culture might of played a role. I have noticed that Japanese are extremely reluctant to embrace change. Their reaction seems to be panic whenever they are confronted with something that upsets their comfort zone. For example, the reaction to Fukushima. Kan had the opportunity to invite outside help, instead he did the usual panic response and the world got to see his "heli hose" solution. we saw the same hysteria with the bonzai charges and kamikaze in WW2. Could several hundred years of "terror reign" by shoguns, samurai, tanosama, daimyo etc caused for a change in DNA? I can discuss something with somebody from a Western country and not feel tension, but many times when discussing something with a Japanese, its all or nothing, win/loose type of discussion. Has culture played a part in shaping this characteristic, perhaps even a difference in DNA has developed?

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toshiko

"inferiority complex toward westerners" There might be these feelings, but I think this kind of feeling usually end up in other way admiring westerners not hating them. There might also be some sense of superiority toward other asians, looking down on them, but I don't know if they are hating asians. Only foreign haters I have personally met are anti-korea or anti-china people, they expressed their feelings to me and they might be increasing but they were minority among people I've met. You are probably Japanese, and I bet you or people around you don't have hate toward foreigners in general.

5petals

I think this Japanese did this to me argument if you can't say details there is no way Japanese can learn what is wrong with them or if there is any fault with them. As far as I remember, I personally have not intentionally looked at foreigners with disgust in my life, just because they are foreigners. Rather I try not look at them because I think they don't want to be looked at with curiosity, or is that causing another insult to foreigners? I still think it is better to blame education system or gov rather than individuals. How can you force people to learn english without any gov policy, they wont unless it is needed in their work or something. I don't know what made you hate Japan so much, but I agree with you that Japan should change in someway if Masuzoe really want good foreign workers. But somehow, I feel it is not easy for him to succeed.

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"I have personally never met any japanese showing such xenophobia, or at least they never told me such feelings"

You dont watch much Japanese TV documentary or read magazines very much, do you? I appreciate your honesty, but you must be a forienger or Japanese who was raised abroad to really understand the scope of xenophobia and exclusion that exisit in Japan. Having a conversation with a Japanese about these issues usually ends up in frustration, so I try to avoid it.

Concerning English, its difficult to understand your mendokusai arguement. Your country spends billions of yen trying to learn basic conversation, but most cannot understand English at a very elementary level. Blame it on the government or education system. Dont you think it has somethind to do with the Japanese character?

What if English was spoken widely in Japan, would the sky come falling down? The second most spoken language in the U.S. is now Spanish, with German and Tagalog following close behind. Dont you think Japan should be more progressive in its acceptance of the outside world? Its 2014, but I can hear daily the word "eigo" and "gaikokujin" discussed as if they are mystical subjects or something from another planet,; something to talk about, but fearful to engage. Such behavior in other countries seems odd and a waste of time. How long can Japan keep living in this safety bubble? Is that really what you want? If so, then Mr. Masuzoes dream of gaijin intergration or coexistance will be extremely difficult to realize.

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Not xenophobia but inferiority complex toward westerners? Japanese schools used to teach English from books. Don;t they hire gaijins to teach conversation now? Some students whose parents might send them to USA or UK univ after they graduate Japanese univ used to sneak into theaters (forbidden) to watch Hollywood movies to learn speaking.

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5petals

I have personally never met any japanese showing such xenophobia, or at least they never told me such feelings. Rather some people I know said they visited foreign countries and said foreigners were nice and kind.

I guess there are Japanese people who can't understand english and when they are asked in English, tries to escape saying things like ask others, they are mendokusai people. I also think there are people who are simply scared of english just like you say. and escapes. But person I know who can't speak english, did what she could do to deal with foreigners who cannot speak Japanese, when she was working in shop in Tokyo, and I didn't feel that person is very unique in Japan.

I don't know which nation you are from but if somebody who cannot speak english goes to Australia or Canada or elsewhere and ask people around in non-english, I am pretty sure some of them will feel mendokusai dealing with non-english speaking person. Similar thing might be true in any nation, India, China or SK, etc. But I know it is better for Japan if more people speak English as you say.but I can't blame individuals for not being able to speak english.

I guess foreigners in Japan do have some hard times and it is not easy for Japanese people to recognize these things, and the same is true in many nations. It is difficult for people in their native land to recognize with what sort of things foreigners are having hard time with. And I admit that Japanese because they didn't have many foreigners like singapore or HK, might be slow in realizing these things, and it will be idealistic if these customs or rules change in a proper way acceptable for both Japanese and foreigners, which in reality might be difficult sometimes.

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@UR22335,

Your answer is typical of the responses I get from Japanese. I dont agree with you. The looks I sometimes get are not looks of mendokusai. I watched a rather large, long haired gaijin cross the path of a Japanese woman, she grunted in disgust and gave him the dirty eye, the same dirty eye I ofter get.

Your answer means that for Japan to open to the world is mendokusai. I dont feel that gaijin are mendokusai; I ofter watch them trying to interact with Japanese. The Japanese always reply with the almost paranoid, hand waving, "eigo dekimasen!" These visiting gaijin are left with the impression that Japanese are fearful of gaijin and illiterate when it comes to English communication.

For Japan to change, japanese themselves must change. Change is seen as mendokusai, therefore Japan wont change until it becomes situational critical.

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Interested to see how it goes.

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 As a Japanese, I think that Japanese might feel uncomfortable toward gaijin, not because they hate gaijin but because they rarely have gaijin near them and they cannot speak foreign language. That is what I feel looking at most japanese. In that sense 60% of people despising gaijin or thinking gaijin in worst context seems ridiculous idea to me. The word mendokusai might be more accurate, mainly because they cannot speak foreign language, but not despise.

But I do agree that Japan is somewhat closed nation, basically ethically homogeneous, most speaking only Japanese, and market might be also closed to foreign firms with restricitons, and immigration and police might also have some bias toward gaijins. But I also want to know, does not some Asians living in European nations or the US, or whites living in other asian states feel some kind of isolation in various ways? They might be, and this feeling of isolation might not be unique to just foreigners in Japan( but they also might differ in degree of how much isolation they feel. ).

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All I can say is.... Show Me!

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In Dec. 2002, he discussed to ease emigration laws. Also, Constitution discussion session, he proposed to have long time living foreigners to have right to elect. His proposals did not work as constitution amendment plans usually involve article 9. He hates women to get jobs or become politicians but his attitude toward foreigners is different than politicians who never studied abroad.

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@toshiko,

These people change so much it that it seems that Japan has a major issue with schizophrenia. Hashimoto used to appear on comedy shows as a fun loving international guy. Some of Ishiharas writings are actually quite progressive and pro foriegner. I always thought of this Masuzoe guy as scary, but it seems, he too, has a different side.

"Investment, setting up a company and getting foreigners/ staff is easy, it's providing a cooperative and friendly business environment that is difficult."

Access to Japans distribution network is where the fun begins. Try any sector and see how far you get.

"There is only one thing that will encourage international companies and skilled workers........ MONEY!!!! And, there isn't any in Japan!""

There is tons of money, just nobody is spending it; its all in savings.

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Does he want to hvwe gaijin talents so that he can get rid of Japanese women workers?

a 1989 article in which Masuzoe argued that women are "not fundamentally suited for politics;" that women lack the ability to compile parts into a logical whole, thus leading to single-issue politics; that women lack the physical strength to work 24 hours a day and make major decisions; and that their menstrual cycle leads them to be "abnormal" on a monthly basis and unsuitable for making major policy decisions such as whether to go to war.

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@toshiko: I did not mean to attack you personally and my apologies if my comment came across that way. It's just frustrating to see Japan ranked so highly in such ratings, since anyone, especially non-Japanese, who's had first hand experience with the Japanese judicial system knows the extreme corruption which exists at every level. One has to wonder about the integrity and methodology of such rankings.

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@JSTOKYO: I wrote the report only. I did not do research and what I think or I feel is not in this report. What I think may be biased and it is not applicable to copy and paste of some organization;s report.

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@Toshiko

Japan's judicial system may have ranked highly in the past, but just wait until I expose the shenanigans of the Japanese judges, court clerks and lawyers in the way they treat foreign litigants. I assure you Japan's judicial system will not rank as highly when the truth comes out.

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The 14 September 2008 Political and Economic Risk Consultancy (PERC) survey reported Hong Kong and Singapore have the best judicial systems in Asia, with Indonesia and Vietnam the worst: Hong Kong's judicial system scored 1.45 on the scale (zero representing the best performance and 10 the worst); Singapore with a grade of 1.92, followed by Japan (3.50), South Korea (4.62), Taiwan (4.93), the Philippines (6.10), Malaysia (6.47), India (6.50), Thailand (7.00), China (7.25), Vietnam's (8.10) and Indonesia (8.26). In 2010, the Rule of Law Index by the World Justice Project ranked Singapore number one for access to civil justice in the high-income countries group.

Singapore has the world's highest percentage of millionaires, with one out of every six households having at least one million US dollars in disposable wealth (excluding property, businesses, and luxury goods, which if included would increase the number of millionaires, as property in Singapore is among the world's most expensive). Singapore does not have a minimum wage, believing that it would lower its competitiveness. It also has one of the highest income inequality levels among developed countries, coming in just behind Hong Kong and in front of the United States.

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I did not think things are expensive. Only one million US dollars may be, /but people there sure have some extra money to spend. I don;t think Japan, USA China, etc people have that kind of savings of 1/6 citizens.

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toshiko May. 21, 2014 - 01:12AM JST But they Singapore prefer corporations and labors that work in Singapore.

But Singapore has slightly over 5 million people living there with majority that is of ethnic Chinese. The car like Honda Civic cost five times more than Japan. You can have it. It's a very expensive city.

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Qmcmcmc: I like here south of Vegas. So, maybe I am prejudiced. I can;t stand snow and hail. I don;t know about their legal system.

I d

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@toshiko

If weather in Singapore is not attractive, why foregin corporation is not expanded to Russia?

Well of course the best answer to your question is that corporations don't feel uncomfortable in the heat and humidity. But seriously, its a matter of preference for individuals but corporations go where they can make money. Also, las vegas is hot but also very dry. If you really like Singapore, thats great. I agree that it has been a huge economic success story. I just find it too hot and muggy to live in even if salaries are high and taxes are low. Can I ask, why are you such a big supporter of Singapore? Also, what do you think about some of the laws in Singapore for example, you can be thrown in jail for a few months if you question the independence of a judge? These things would also concern me if I lived in Singapore.

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@M3M3M3: Vegas is hot and no snow. So, American and foreign tourists visit. Same as Singapore. no snow. That is why many foreign corporations expanded their operations to Singapore. If weather in Singapore is not attractive, why foregin corporation is not expanded to Russia? Hot and hnmid is better than snow and flood. If you don;t like, you don;t have to go. But they Singapore prefer corporations and labors that work in Singapore. Almost 50% of its factory manpower are gaijins. And they pay very good.

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Tokyo governor unveils plan to lure foreign business talent

Singapore has been attracting medical talents from all over the world and they are doing great jobs. Tokyo can do the same as the population of senior citizens are growing faster. City needs more sophisticated hospitals and nursing homes for them.

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"Masuzoe promised to relax labor regulations in a planned special district of his metropolis to make it easier for foreigners to live and work."

When it comes to Japan, gaijins and special districts, the Japanese have a long history of isolating the "unclean" Whats he going to do, move all the gaishike companies to reclaimed land?

Take a look at the base issue in Okinawa, the shin okubou district etc.

A planned special district sounds like the usual Japanese solution to anything gai. The real issue is the Japanese themselves. If the Japanese could accept English as a second language and allow the "others" to live, without othering them to death, Masuzoe plan might just work. As soon as I step outside, ride the train, engage at work, its, well, an adventure; I spend more effort trying to keep my sanity than living. In other countries you dont have to deal with this nonsense.

I, like most others here, cant see much changing. Lets hope we are wrong.

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@toshiko

The country sound more advanced in pweople and culture than Japan to me. Especially climate.

The 'business climate' in Singapore might be good but the actual 'climate climate' surely is not so great! Hot and humid, like Japan in July and August but all year round. No thank you.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Singapor people do not despise gaijins. Las Vegas created Casino hotels in Singapore knowing USA gaijins are not hated. Tax haven, The country sound more advanced in pweople and culture than Japan to me. Especially climate.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

you both know that the above comment I made hours ago is true

I know it's truly ridiculous.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

And while the word "despise" might be a bit strong as well, I would agree that at least 60% look at foreigners and immediately think "gaijin" in the worst context. And that has nothing at all to do with language. And until that is corrected, Japan will never be at the top of the list for highly-skilled ex-pats.

Stranger and Upgray -- say whatever you want in, but you both know that the above comment I made hours ago is true, and that will always hold Japan back.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Singapore has the world's highest percentage of millionaires, with one out of every six households having at least one million US dollars in disposable wealth (excluding property, businesses, and luxury goods, which if included would increase the number of millionaires, as property in Singapore is among the world's most expensive). Singapore does not have a minimum wage, believing that it would lower its competitiveness. It also has one of the highest income inequality levels among developed countries, coming in just behind Hong Kong and in front of the United States.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

I guess the guy is planning to bring smart skilled workers in preparation for the olympics.absolutely not the smart profesionals.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

"Also SIngaporeans do not like Gaijin too...far far worse than in Japan."

How can that be when 40% is gaijin? Your saying the gaijin dont like the gaijin?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

What happened to the company who invited foreign talents in past? In Japanese corporations, there are many employees who had been either educated or worked in their company branch in USA so speaking Japanese is not so necessary. I am going to write example of one company that employed foreign talents in 2005 that changed its business forever. In 2005, because Sony had the newest idea to have foreign talent top 3 resigned (retired) and Howard Sling became CEO Chairman of Sony along with two more talent on top. Long time employees that contributed to Sony's success either retired or moved to other companies. You all know how is Sony now, don't you?

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

A sound business move but, as so many people have said, it'll only work if the business sector changes it style. If they continue to resist change, no foreigners will want to stick around for too long. Personally, I have encountered the "That's how we do things, and we see no need to change" philosophy to put much hope in any plans like this one.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Most expats I know who've lived in Tokyo, HK ang SG say that Tokyo lifestyle is the most pleasant and convenient (outside of affordable maids and affordable international schools).

Most expats who leave Japan leave because their jpbs have been transferred (mostly to HK as it is easier to fire), they got promoted, or they're retiring to a country with cheaper price level (Thailand).

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The Governor's statement that “We badly need 'young' talented persons" is off the mark from the start. How old is young? In some countries or cultures excluding people from the work force or work pool based on a particular age is ageism. I agree with most that Singapore, the US, Australia, and even China seem to be looking for good foreign talent. The Tokyo Governor may be trying to make a good point. However, I hope it is not the same way they treated Japanese-Brazilians. http://content.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1892469,00.html

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I hope Mr. governor is not trying Tokyo to become like Singapore. I think it is much more crucial to foresee and prepare for post Olympic economy than trying to call "skilled foreigners", which I don't even know what he'd meant by "skilled foreigners" to live in Tokyo. They'll return to their own countries any way, eventually unless they settle down with a good reason. There got to be a good reason why they'll come and stay in Tokyo in the long run. With all respect, Sir.(^_-)

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"The Governor also pledged to amend the tax system and residential requirements to encourage business startups, including those by foreign students."

First order of business: make it illegal for apartment owners to list their properties as "gaikokujin taiou fuka." Otherwise, where do you expect these talented foreigners to live?

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Japan can regress to a more appropriate (mental) time, small farms, locking out those Nasty Foreigners . It is too late and no longer matters to the world. On this site we have story after story about distancing from the global economy.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

For sure Japan have very strict regulation in hiring foreigners compare to Singapore. My hiring company in Japan spends 2 months for my documents approval compare to 2 days to 2 weeks in Singapore. However, Singapore is far not better on Social Welfare and the Salary is only high on those Oil related jobs which you have to Spend 3 months in the Sea. Also SIngaporeans do not like Gaijin too...far far worse than in Japan.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Simply put Japan's mathematical reality is that it needs more workers. Where do they come from if not overseas? I think there's no realistic way this doesn't end in mass immigration for the Japanese.

Fair enough. There are a lot of points that back up the opinion that Japan needs foreign labor, but as I said before, it's an opinion, not a fact. You yourself already supplied one possible alternative in your post:

Or Japan's real future will be a state of permanent economic decline, followed by stubborn old people eating their 200 yen cat food on the park benches.

For the Japanese, this may be preferable to opening the floodgates.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

@Todd Topolski

I can speak, read and write Japanese but I will not move there solely because the Japanese governments make it too much of a hassle.

It could not possibly be easier for an educated professional to move to Japan. Find a visa sponsor (or get transferred) - done. Literally anyone with a degree and no criminal record can do it.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Strangerland, I think you aren't addressing their concerns.

Whose concerns? The Japanese, or posters on this site?

Why bother? Ultimately learning Japanese takes thousands of hours. In the end, Japanese is not international language. It is not international culture.

I agree with you up to this point. There is no need for any company to learn Japanese unless they want to do business in Japan, and that will only happen if the benefit of doing business in Japan is enough to counterbalance the time/effort/money it takes to learn Japanese.

Japan needs money from outside Japan. It needs foreign laborers. In 1980, this was not true. Now in 2014 there are foreign business doing competition in Japan. The population is shrinking and most importantly the labor force and consumer market is decreasing.

This is where I find issue. People often bandy about the fact that 'Japan needs foreigners' and 'Japan needs foreign labor'. This is not a given, it's simply an opinion. Japan may not do as well in the world as it could, if it were to not import foreign labor. That may be acceptable to the Japanese, over the prospect of 'opening the gates'. Or it may be that they will find other ways to be competitive, without needing to bring in foreign labor. Or, it may be that they will decide to let in more foreign labor. The point is, as I said at the start of this paragraph, it's only opinion that Japan needs foreign labor, not fact.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

@80393

wouldnt this make people reconsider relocating to a country that allows this to go on?

Sure. No doubt. But every country has its flaws. Malaysia limits purchasing of certain apartments to those only from a specific race (including citizens), Thailand flat-out bans foreigners from owning land, and can only own apartments in buildings that are at least 51% Thai owned. This is a problem for residents of those countries as well.

This is just one issue with Japan, though - on average it's a pleasant and safe place to build a career.

@jerseyboy

Ichiro has NEVER learned to speak English,

What? Ichiro speaks English very well, he just doesn't use it in interviews.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

yes, japan need foreign workers, that the fact,,but.....if they are here, they will be treated again as gaijins till the rest of their time spent here, or as most already mentioned - second class citizens..after spending sometimes here and seeing things around, that is just the truth..

3 ( +4 / -1 )

What specific government policies are the biggest obstacles to you moving to Japan?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I am American and we would move to any country which was modern and with a government not bent on confiscating everything I earn, America is not the place. No where is. I already work for a large Japanese company, I can speak, read and write Japanese but I will not move there solely because the Japanese governments make it too much of a hassle. SG and HK are easy places to live and work. America is just as ridiculous, most governments are, when it comes to their regulations to immigration and employment. I hope this guy can Do it. I would bring my big salary to Japan if I could move there as easily as SG.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

M3,

Haha, can just picture that scene in front of me, no answer but a million repetitions of moshiwake bla bla bla...

A great many insightful comments here today. If Japanese "leaders" knew what they were doing, they would of course realize that to attract foreign talent, you have to employ foreign talent who can communicate and facilitate its assimilation. One (of many) problems in Japan is that everything is controlled top->down, with the veritable shacho telling the troops what he wants and they will try to make it happen. Same here. Matsuzoe comes out with what he wants to happen, but I see no concrete plans for this. I suspects this is all just a ploy for him and his administration to show the good citizens of Tokyo that he is a man of action.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

And while the word "despise" might be a bit strong as well, I would agree that at least 60% look at foreigners and immediately think "gaijin" in the worst context.

And again, this claim is ridiculous.

What you "you-can't-speak-Japanese-that's-why-you-don't-like-Japan"-argumentists fail to understand is that we are here talking about investors, or job-creators. While I agree that language skills are very useful, to demand such skills for a successful business relationship is just delirious.

You are mixing up two different arguments here. The first is about people who can't speak Japanese having a persecution complex, and the second is about whether or not Japan is business friendly. The first I've already addressed.

As for the second, it's unreasonable for Japan to expect a lot of foreign business development if that business needs to be done in Japanese. That doesn't mean that they can't have that expectation, but if they persist in having that expectation they likely won't do as well on the world stage as companies who don't have that expectation.

On a personal level though, I hope they never drop that expectation, for as someone else pointed out above, this has created a wealth of opportunity for me.

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

He also pledged to amend the tax system and residential requirements to encourage business startups, including those by foreign students.

Notice the "students" part here? Part of the master plan to keep control I'll bet.....

2 ( +4 / -2 )

The people have the real problems are the ones who cannot speak Japanese. The opportunities for professionals who cannot speak Japanese are very limited. Companies are just not interested in hiring people who are illiterate and cannot communicate in the local language.

Most of the foreigners speak english plus there native language, english is the international communication language, why do you think Singapore, HK attract the talent in APAC, going by your logic majority of the japanese working abroad should be considered illiterate, right. This default requirement of business/native japanese screening results in pros not even considering japan, the ones who do are in most cases bilingual translators, now these folks are the ones you would find in positions which should have gone to professionals and this in long term creates more disconnect with your peers as they do not see you adding any value at all. The workaround for most firms is to open "centers of excellence" in Singapore/HK among others, the language requirement off-course changes from required to preferred, good to have.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

but the most archaic and challenging part of the process is banking, specifically obtaining a global friendly corporate account. Japan, you will succeed in brining in foreign business talent if the banking system becomes modernized, simplified, and internationally friendly.

Reminds me of when I had to open a company account and I wasn't allowed to have a Japanese person fill in the Kanji address! It had to be me and no-one else. I asked what would happen if I was disabled or had no hands... They had no answer.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

Good idea, just hoping no loophole for Chinese invasion. Highly educated skilled workers are needed, but watch out for the trouble makers in all forms and colors.

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

Call me cynical, but I think it will take more than "relaxing labor regulations" (details please, governor?) and our own segregated neighborhood (in a flood zone along the banks of the Arakawa River, perhaps) to lure in foreign business talent.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

This is clearly a great initiative and will need a lot of work to pull this off successfully. I'm a foreigner who registered a training and leadership consulting business here in Japan a little less then 2 years ago. We have been quite successful in a short period of time and seems like our services are helping fill the "gap" with domestic and international businesses. However, the process to get a business registered is unnecessarily complex compared to other nations (like Singapore and the U.S.), but the most archaic and challenging part of the process is banking, specifically obtaining a global friendly corporate account. Japan, you will succeed in brining in foreign business talent if the banking system becomes modernized, simplified, and internationally friendly. Stop being aggressively obedient to tradition and culture in the banking system. It doesn't belong in banking and it SLOWS down progress. I have spoken to high ranking banking officials in Tokyo and they express disappointment at their own banking system but all say the same thing... Change is slow and nearly impossible. Good luck Governor and let me know what Alpine International K.K. or the readers can do to help this along.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

What you "you-can't-speak-Japanese-that's-why-you-don't-like-Japan"-argumentists fail to understand is that we are here talking about investors, or job-creators. While I agree that language skills are very useful, to demand such skills for a successful business relationship is just delirious. Japanese is a relatively unimportant language (world-wise) and a local expecting potential business partners to master Japanese would not have much to do. No, the problem is the other way around - Japanese have a traumatic and stilted relationship with English.

7 ( +11 / -4 )

@ disillusioned "You already have many young talented persons, but they are stuck in ancient culture of being told what to do by old men. There is only one thing that will encourage international companies and skilled workers........ MONEY!!!! And, there isn't any in Japan!"

this is true, and those who may come, will realize soon so many limitations here, (profiling, isolation, discrimination, environmental risk, keystone ineffectiveness, increasing crime rates, Nationalism on the rise, military buildup, Yak & corruption probs; situations that will never change...

5 ( +6 / -1 )

@jerseyboy

You are just listing your own stereotypes. 60% of Japanese view foreigners in a bad light? Thank you for your opinion but I don't believe it. Not at all. What evidence do you have to support those numbers? Opinion polls, academic surveys, or are you just making things up?

And your finance getting stopped twice a month by immigration for 20 years? So she's been stopped and questioned over 200 times? I find that hard to believe. I must be living in a crazy bubble because I have been stopped by Japanese police a grand total of one time in five years.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

A 'special area' to put all foreigners in? I thought he was opening up Tokyo, not just a specific section which will be known as the foreign area. Doesn't sound like he's opening much of anything but his mouth.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

Oh please, there are literally hundreds of thousands (possibly millions) of people who would jump at the opportunity to work in Japan.

-11 ( +4 / -15 )

In my experience those who feel the most persecuted in Japan are those with the lowest level of Japanese ability. The fact is that they cannot communicate, so they live in a bubble and start to imagine everyone has something against them. Those who speak Japanese know this isn't the case, as they are able to actually communicate with the citizenry.

Stranger -- nice stereotype, but you saying does not make it so. It has no more validity than the 20/60/20 theory. You are using terms like "persecuted" but that is a red herring. The comment was simply about Japanese people really, genuinely welcoming foreigners. And while the word "despise" might be a bit strong as well, I would agree that at least 60% look at foreigners and immediately think "gaijin" in the worst context. And that has nothing at all to do with language. And until that is corrected, Japan will never be at the top of the list for highly-skilled ex-pats. My fiance has lived in Japan over 20 years, has permanent resident status, owns 50% of a company, and is fluent in Japanese, yet she gets stopped at least twice a month by Immigration Folks. So it goes WAY BEYOND just langauge.

10 ( +15 / -5 )

Unless they are going to increase wages and compensation packages no one will want to work here.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

I agree, Japanese language ability is the only real barrier for a professional immigrating to Japan. Any foreigner with skills and Japanese ability can easily find a company in Japan to sponsor their visa and make a decent long-term career and even take on Japanese citizenship after a decade or so.

The people have the real problems are the ones who cannot speak Japanese. The opportunities for professionals who cannot speak Japanese are very limited. Companies are just not interested in hiring people who are illiterate and cannot communicate in the local language.

-6 ( +5 / -10 )

The difficulties of doing business in Japan and the language barrier, etc. are a business OPPORTUNITY.

Wow, someone who gets it! Rare on this site. This in fact is how I have made the majority of my money - being able to communicate both inside of Japan and out.

-4 ( +3 / -6 )

If Japan happened to have more land,anti-discrimination laws,a progressive educational system etc, then there would be hordes of people applying to come here. It seems that 'intelligent' people already know that there are much attractive destinations out there

Mr Masuzoe needs to impart radical change.....

1 ( +2 / -2 )

@pandabelle

I'm amazed at how so many of you are saying foreigners are treated as second class citizens. In terms of housing, yes

wouldnt this make people reconsider relocating to a country that allows this to go on?

4 ( +6 / -3 )

The difficulties of doing business in Japan and the language barrier, etc. are a business OPPORTUNITY.

There are many companies and individuals making great money because they were able to bring in some kind of foreign product or service that wasn't here before.

When something is quick, cheap and easy and anyone can do it, there no opportunity because the competition is too high.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

All of which would get a massive shock when they have to make that trip to Immigration at Tennozu on the bus - and we all know what that feels like...

On a more serious note, unless the following are addressed this will never take off:

Relaxed visa terms (incl. more opportunities for sponsorship) More "concrete" employment contracts (ie. no hakken, no itaku - you're not fooling anyone!) Housing discrimination (needed two guarantors in Tokyo just to rent a place - sad thing is, 99% of foreigners would not be able to accomplish this) Credit cards (took me five years to get one here)

The simple fact is, these companies hire foreigners on short-term contracts, as they know that they won't be here long enough to discover what it's really like (ie. all the loopholes exploited in employment contracts). This will just not fly in the future.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

This sounds pretty awful. The only idea he has is to relax labor regulations, presumably to reduce or do away with legally mandated protections granted to workers, as a means of attracting workers? To begin with it is completely counter-intuitive, unless the only workers he wants are low skilled ones to work in fast food or something. Second, labor regulations are hardly the main thing holding skilled professionals from locating to Tokyo. I have never heard of anyone saying I would love to live and work in Tokyo, but all those pesky regulations designed to protect me and give me benefits are putting me off.

Third, one thing that does prevent skilled foreign workers from investing in Japan and staying long term is exactly this type of garbage - having special rules that erode their security and make it easier ( in some cases obligatory) for employers to treat them as short term, disposable labor who it is assumed will only stay in the country for 2-3 years. Japan doesn`t need more of that, it needs rules that do not treat foreigners as short termers with little investment in the country who live their lives completely segregated from the society in which they live (which sounds exactly like the environment this stupid zone is intended to create). What it does need is a system that will encourage skilled foreign professionals to stay long term and actually make personal investments in their futures in Japan.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

M3M3M3: very interesting comment, I never considered the pragmatic legal framework view before. Can you explain more?

Sure, I can give you a real example and tell you what would have happened in Japan.

I will use the most well known case of equitable tracing in the case 'Hong Kong v Reid 1993'. This case applies equally to the financial industry, so just think of a fund manager and a client. Basically, the facts are this: Reid was the Attorney General for Hong Kong, he illegally took bribes in exchange for not prosecuting criminals, he used the money to buy property for himself in New Zealand, he then transferred ownership to his wife with the idea that the law would not be able to touch them if it was in her name.

What happened in Hong Kong: The court ruled that the money belonged to the taxpayers of Hong Kong and that Reid held the bribes as a trustee for the taxpayers. Even though the trust money was used to buy the properties in New Zealand in Reid's name the taxpayers could follow and trace the money into the properties which were now theirs just as the money had been. Also, because the wife had not paid for the properties, and she knew of the scam (or should have know), the taxpayers as beneficiaries under the trust could trace and follow the money to recover the properties from her as well. The courts could issue personal ruling against Reid for breach of trust, Reid's wife for assisting in a breach and most importantly a ruling in rem against the property itself to be returned to the beneficiaries, the taxpayers of Hong Kong. Some people dispute the ruling in HK v Reid for other technical reasons, but I won't get into those.

So what would happen in Japan? In Japan, basically the court would have only been able to issue a personal ruling against Reid that he should pay back the money. Basically a debt. They could not rule that the properties rightly belonged to the taxpayers. The taxpayers would have to try to enforce the debt by trying to seize and sell any of Reid's assets which would be very difficult or impossible if the property had been sold or transferred.

This example applies equally to a fund managers like in the case of AIJ in Japan. In that case, it is arguable that other people knew that the company had no money and was ripping off new investors who were putting money in. The problem in Japan is that there is no law of trusts to help investors recover their property if it is misapplied or stolen.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

It definitely will not become SG, just because its not multicultural enough to be a hub , but it will definitely create more and better opportunities for qualified foreign work force , sounds very good to me!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

There is only one thing that will encourage international companies and skilled workers........ MONEY!!!! And, there isn't any in Japan!

Yeah! Everyone knows the 3rd largest economy in the world has no money.

-1 ( +7 / -7 )

Sorry, but this is not going to happen. Outside talent means allowing outside competition to take place within Japan. There is is nothing more frightening to the Japanese business and bureaucratic cultures than to have people in the system who cannot be kept under their thumbs. If such a thing were to happen, the garden-variety Japanese might wake up and begin acting and thinking independently, and who knows were such a thing might lead?

Japan will only go so far as to allow worker-ant types to immigrate for limited periods, as these are too stupid to question the Japanese system, and can be sent home before they learn more about it.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Nice sentiments, but it's probably too late for Japan to compete as a financial hub with Singapore or HK. Unless some pretty radical changes are made re: lowering taxes, labour laws etc.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

“We have to import many intelligent people from abroad. We badly need young talented persons,”

You already have many young talented persons, but they are stuck in ancient culture of being told what to do by old men. There is only one thing that will encourage international companies and skilled workers........ MONEY!!!! And, there isn't any in Japan!

4 ( +9 / -4 )

The usual chorus: Japan is the world's third largest economy, and yet it is a failure. Bitch, bitch, bitch. But all the best to Masuzoe. Now I wish I had voted for him.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Stranger -- you might want to re-think this part of your argument. Why should speaking the language be a criteria for being received in a welcoming manner?

I never claimed it was.

In my experience those who feel the most persecuted in Japan are those with the lowest level of Japanese ability. The fact is that they cannot communicate, so they live in a bubble and start to imagine everyone has something against them. Those who speak Japanese know this isn't the case, as they are able to actually communicate with the citizenry.

-3 ( +5 / -7 )

Another thought bubble. A bit like PM Abe's 3rd arrow. Mr Masuzoe will be a one term governor if he runs with this.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

And I almost guarantee that those complaining don't speak Japanese.

Stranger -- you might want to re-think this part of your argument. Why should speaking the language be a criteria for being received in a welcoming manner? The folks who would run away from me rather than stand in the same que waiting for a train never took the time to find out, did they? Ichiro has NEVER learned to speak English, so should Americans treat him in an un-friendly way? I lived in Japan for ten years and find the 20/60/20 split pretty accurate. Most Japanese onlt accept foreigners as a necessary nusance of the 21st century, and, believe me, potential ex-pats know that.

5 ( +9 / -5 )

I would go further and say perhaps only 10% openly welcomes foreigners. The rest of Japan sees them as either scary, mendokusai or as a necessary evil. In the business community, I think it even worse. As long as that stuffy old oyaji-ridden culture prevails (and it will), things will stay the same.

Balderdash.

Good one! Foreigners who have lived in Japan for more than one decade and who work in the 'real' Japan, (i.e. outside of teaching English to pleasant people who by virtue of taking lessons probably quite like foreigners), know the truth of my earlier projections all too well....

I'm a foreigner who has lived here for coming up on 2 decades, and haven't taught English in well over a decade. And your numbers are ridiculous.

I think you must live in a different Japan than I do, I find it much easier to live here as a professional than in my home country or any of the other countries I've lived in. And the salary is nice, too!

I'm with you. And I almost guarantee that those complaining don't speak Japanese. Anyone who does knows how ridiculous their statements are.

-11 ( +3 / -13 )

I asked a retired Japanese banker who worked for 20-plus years in New York, Hong Kong, and Shanghai why Tokyo wasn't a financial hub. He said that language was a big part. Those cities can find workers who speak more than one language for even a secretarial position.

Not just language in the office but in doing something as simple as calling a stationery store to order up a ream of paper ~ the foreign executive in Japan who doesn't speak Japanese probably can't do it whereas in Hong Kong or Singapore, English would be acceptable.

How will Masuzoe handle that particular problem? By limiting Japanese nationals who work in the Special District to those who can speak three language fluently?

Good luck to him and I hope he succeeds. I also hope he realizes the entire country has to change, not just a special district ala Dejima.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

Can't and won't work, even though the government "supports" it, local business just won't do it, best excuse I heard "gaijin dakara, reigi tadashikunai shi, nihonjin no kokoro ga wakaranai shi, komyunike-shon mo muzukashii". I'm an Asian, born and grown conformist, and yet Japan scares me. If it were not because of fellow foreigners coming together founded a new company, I would've gone out of Japan.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

M3M3M3: very interesting comment, I never considered the pragmatic legal framework view before. Can you explain more?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The reason that Singapore and Hong Kong are hubs for finance is because they have common law legal systems and the law of trusts to protect investors. Tokyo, or Shanghai for that matter, can never become hubs of global finance for this simple reason.

Why would investors risk having their money managed in Japan when they cannot predict what the courts will decide in the event that they need to sue? Or when misappropriation of assets can only result in a personal claim against the wrongdoer in Japan (AIJ for example) rather than a tracing to recovery the money from all those involved, which could be available in places like Singapore.

I'm sorry but I can't help but laugh when non-common law countries say that they will become financial centers merely by 'attracting talent'. The only 2 non-common law countries that have succeeded are Switzerland and Lichtenstein, but only after they deliberately overhauled their legal systems to mirror the system of trust law in common law countries.

9 ( +9 / -1 )

Honestly work in Japan SUCKS. I've been in 3 jobs here and all have massive issues. I think it's time to go back to Australia.

6 ( +10 / -5 )

We'll see the true impact of Japan's fate as all the savings go and the family establishments change generations.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Investment, setting up a company and getting foreigners/ staff is easy, it's providing a cooperative and friendly business environment that is difficult.

The basic requirements of a business, such as import/ export of goods, customs paperwork, financial and banking restrictions, renting/ buying property or land for factories/ offices, interacting with local bureaucracy and officials, are fraught with a lack of concrete and consistent guidelines, case-by-case policies that vary from day to day. Decision making is very poor, with no-one wanting to take on responsibility for fear of establishing precedents.

Too much xenophobia and emphasis on the foreign-ness, differences, unique culture are meaningless; all countries are different and unique to greater or lesser extents. Unless these are improved, Singapore and Hong Kong will remain the prime choices for regional head offices, with Manila and Bangkok as also-rans.

10 ( +10 / -1 )

Why would anyone voluntarily sign up for a 55% tax rate?

6 ( +9 / -4 )

I'm amazed at how so many of you are saying foreigners are treated as second class citizens. In terms of housing, yes, but in basically everything else foreign residents have a whole lot of privilege that Japanese do not enjoy, especially not being subject to social norms.

I think you must live in a different Japan than I do, I find it much easier to live here as a professional than in my home country or any of the other countries I've lived in. And the salary is nice, too!

-7 ( +10 / -16 )

Absolutely ridiculous.

Sometimes I wonder if the people on this site even live in Japan.

Good one! Foreigners who have lived in Japan for more than one decade and who work in the 'real' Japan, (i.e. outside of teaching English to pleasant people who by virtue of taking lessons probably quite like foreigners), know the truth of my earlier projections all too well....

5 ( +11 / -6 )

Although I've not had too many problems myself, Japan is just too racist a country to be suddenly capable of multicultural thinking enough to benefit and develop the city connections for cross economic startups and world players. Even if you speak Japanese clearly you can still not be heard / be ignored which, isn't everyone, but it's there and very much evident of a closed mind. Change is not something it really wants so this PR campaign is only about kicking the can down the road for another few years.

To be sure Japan has a long list of what could have been, (what? You want a credit card? A place to live? psssh). As well a lot of Asia will simply pass Japan by because they bothered to respect English as a language, and not twist it into something useless to the English speaker. That's a 50 year fail right there.

Start with the 50 year fails, then if Japan can work its way down to the 40-30-20 year ones it might have a chance. But it can't just switch overnight. It will take time, effort, and a desire to change. I don't see it.

However it's not all bad news. Young people see this themselves and create international connections. I see it in music and arts and even engineering projects. It's a breath of fresh air and if you ever encounter it, please encourage it! Japanese who have international experience are the ones to lead and recommend changes, not Japanese who continually live in fear.

2 ( +7 / -5 )

Immigration is always being very sensitive issue. Damn if you do damn if don’t.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Stranger,

Please expalin why you think that statement ridiculous.

I would go further and say perhaps only 10% openly welcomes foreigners. The rest of Japan sees them as either scary, mendokusai or as a necessary evil. In the business community, I think it even worse. As long as that stuffy old oyaji-ridden culture prevails (and it will), things will stay the same.

13 ( +17 / -4 )

@Kakukaku

How about making it easy for foreigners to get a credit card in Japan... Been rejected twice so far

Have you applied for a Visa card from the post office? It's very foreigner-friendly.

5 ( +7 / -3 )

come on, lure me.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Seems to me, roughly speaking, 20% of Japanese people openly welcome foreigners to their country, 60% despise foreigners, and the remaining 20% are indifferent

Absolutely ridiculous.

Sometimes I wonder if the people on this site even live in Japan.

-15 ( +7 / -21 )

“We have to import many intelligent people from abroad. We badly need young talented persons,”

On the one hand, Masuzoe’s words seems bring a breath of fresh air in a " stuffy room", on the other hand, it would be extremely difficulty to wangle through the legendary red-tape in Japan, let along to convince a homogeneous corporate cultural to embrace such fundamental change.

Will see.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Seems to me, roughly speaking, 20% of Japanese people openly welcome foreigners to their country, 60% despise foreigners, and the remaining 20% are indifferent. Until this changes, why would any skilled foreigner want to live and work in Japan?

0 ( +8 / -8 )

How about making it easy for foreigners to get a credit card in Japan... Been rejected twice so far and I have a steady job and which I consider good income too.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Japanese baseball history is chock full of horror stories of gaijin players who left their skills at home and carried only their egos through customs.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

5petals,

So desu.

All the time, everywhere in Japan, outspoken or not, it is Japan vs. the World., ie the gaijin. That mindset is far too heavily ingrained in Japan. I am sure there are fractions in other countries (SH and HK) too that are not in favor of importing labor and skill but they seem to be in the minority.

Here, as we all know, locals do not really want any foreign interference. Personally, I think Japan could benefit from more openness, but I do not expect it to happen. Matsuzoe's gambit is, I suspect, more directed to the domestic market with the idea of attracting local firms to Tokyo because he hopes Japanese firms want to be where it all happens.

2 ( +6 / -5 )

His initiatives come amid a general view in Japan that Tokyo has lost its appeal as an international business center after two decades of economic stagnation and because of archaic regulations ill-suited to an era of globalization.

Completely true. Tokyo has priced itself out of the market, given how much of a hassle it is to deal with all the bureaucracy.

5 ( +8 / -3 )

@Knox I think you may be correct. You have to look at this way: What if the Japanese population and economy were at 1960 levels? Would the Japanese be considering any changes to immigration or foriegn investment? Most likely not. This is being forced on them. In SG for example, an employer might need several laborers for construction. He doesnt concern himself over nationality (even though the owner may be Chinese or Indian) In Japan, the job will most always go to trusted uchi Japanese. When the day comes, if ever, when a Japanese company has several ethnic groups to choose from, what will be their reaction? First of all they are gaijin, then there is the Nihongo barrier as well as cultural norms and rules.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

These qualified foreign workers will leave in a few years. Not many will stay for long term because of stress in living in Japan. Better solution for Japan is that if they could close its gender employment gap. With women constituting nearly half of university graduates, Japan has large pool of well-educated women. They are, however, underutilized and almost unbelievable in a developed country. Japanese women are pushed out by a workplace culture that traditionally shunted women into a dead-end road and quit because they lack career development opportunities and feel stalled in their careers. One big problem for working moms, women caring for their elders is that they need little work-life balance is that flexible but work arrangements are still foreign concept in Japan. If flexible work arrangements is available, it would be a giant step forward in terms of keeping well-educated women on employment. Even leaving work a little early is frowned upon in Japanese workplaces. More companies should to follow suit. Leveraging the talents of well-qualified women offers a potential solution to Japan’s shortage of skill workers.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

No chance. Japan is simply not attractive for skilled foreign workers. Why go to Japan where you can "enjoy" discrimination, untold hassle finding a place to live and the notorious 1 year contract farce! Generally the only western foreigners who go to Japan are the totally unskilled "english teacher" mob who have no where else to go and no skills to offer.

6 ( +13 / -7 )

It is the country not just Tokyo, or in this case a special part of Tokyo, that needs to change. Also, immigration laws are problem for people from some countries, and he can do nothing to change them.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

I don't think Japan has what it takes anymore. Not for a long time anyway. Everything in Japan revolves around returning to the old, the imaginatory Golden Days when what is really needed is to look forward. Up-and-coming countries have everything to gain and really nothing to lose by attracting foreign investment and will be more appealing than Japan with its regulatory, tatemae mindset.

By working with the central government, Masuzoe promised to relax labor regulations in a planned special district of his metropolis to make it easier for foreigners to live and work.

Dejima, anyone? See, this is what I am talking about. Japan wants a lot of stuff but does not really want to open up and share. They want the talent but only in a controlled enviroment. If foreign investors will have to choose between this, limited, dishonest offer in Tokyo or can get 100-fold better deals in for example Singapore, Vietnam or Burma, I think the choice is easy. Making money is probably good, but if too mendokusai (which Japan is famous for being) I don't see the appeal here.

7 ( +11 / -4 )

"Language barrier is huge problem. In Hong Kong and Singapore, it is easier to do business in English. And note that he mentions "intelligent", by which I assume, he is only talking about qualified candidates.

Japan had demographics issue, which you cannot fix by deregulation. I would also argue that Japan is already an important financial center.

He can try, I guess. Got nothing to lose..."

Excellent observation. When I compare Japan with SG and HK, I usually get the same canned responses like "SG and HK are small countries/cities with close proximity to other countries" response.. Japan is an island country, so there is not comparsion and no need to speak English according to these apologist.

Japan is way behind SG in its immigration and labor policies. You can go to SG, find an apartment, job ets with limited hassle. There is no discrimination, by law anyhow, against foriegners. Some of the local Sings may not like it, but with 40% of their population forienger, I think its fair to say they have liberal immigration in SG.

I do respect the new governor of Tokyo, Mr. Masuzoe. I think he is trying to undue what Ishihara and the other doofus created, but its not so easy. I also think he is looking ahead; once the Olympics leave, then what? Well he knows that the masses of foriegners in route to see the Olympics will see Tokyo. If what they see/experience today is any impression, it will surely leave a mixed impression of a city that is modern but lacking an international appeal.

To change the Japanese people requires sanctioned change at the top; and I think Mr. Masuzoe is doing right. Changing years of ingrained xenophobia, however, will take allot of effort.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

This is just guff from another right wing oyaji attempting to look forward-thinking. As sillygirl pointed out, tried and failed, but there's nothing wrong with mouthing it again.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

Tokyo governor unveils plan to lure foreign business talent"

"unveils plans to lure foreign business talent"

that right there explains the stealthy method of baiting talent, I'd think talent would figure that out under such circumstances

"foreign business talent" "foreign" nice term

"business talent" what is that? ....OH I get it flexible to spin with the deemed business J-flow

and it sounds like the tactics are on the down low

Good Luck!

0 ( +5 / -5 )

It will take a lot... Biz reform begins with human reform

-Multi-cultural and multi-lingual attitude of Japan, if it wants to become immigrant nation -Real biz growth, innovation and focus on global profits and marketing -Biz deregulation to drag power away from the old men in the keidenretsu -Social reform for how gaijin are treated -Labor reform regarding abusive short-term contracts. First-rate workers don't put up with gimmicky abuse, they just go elsewhere. Globe-hoppers have no reason to accept J-companies' onerous terms and low base wages -Changing Japan's anachronistic biz etiquette and rules -Labor reform to end abusive working conditions and low pay -Merit-based recruitment and compensation -Better rights for foreign workers

It's pretty much that or be stuck with just the unqualified teaching crowd. Qualified IT engineers or financial workers, doctors or lawyers won't put up with being treated like second-class scrubs. It's Japan that needs to change, not the foreigners they're bringing here.

12 ( +12 / -0 )

"Japan has very strict immigration policies, hidden cost, and business has to battle reams of red tape to attract skilled workers, two factors that tend to put off global firms and foreign investors."

Japan has very nationalist policies and foreign business realms of red tape to battle attract any skilled workers, factors that tend to put off global firms and foreign investors.

Japan has very strict import policies and business have to battle reams of red tape that tend to put off global firms and foreign investors.

Japan has various geological and environmental issues and business have to battle realms of denial, window dressing,and disdain for criticism red tapes that tend to put off global firms, foreign investors, and tourist.

Singapore is an established multicultural country, Japan is not an established multicultural country.

Sorry nice try programmable statement by the TOK gov...

7 ( +12 / -5 )

Trying to establish a special zone for foreigners? What, like Dejima? Thinking really hasn`t progressed very far has it.

12 ( +13 / -1 )

Language barrier is huge problem. In Hong Kong and Singapore, it is easier to do business in English. And note that he mentions "intelligent", by which I assume, he is only talking about qualified candidates.

Japan had demographics issue, which you cannot fix by deregulation. I would also argue that Japan is already an important financial center.

He can try, I guess. Got nothing to lose...

12 ( +12 / -0 )

Good PR but as hard as opening up Japan's agriculture market.

8 ( +10 / -2 )

As long as Japan treat every one else as GAIJINs, even the ones who have been here for decades, it will be hard to change the trend.

24 ( +28 / -4 )

Tried and failed. Tokyo is a money pit. And just how long would people be able to stay? Probably not long to put down any roots. They probably want those companies to rotate people in and out to increase taxes collected but not long enough to benefit from anything else.

3 ( +8 / -5 )

gotta say i am surprised, hope he makes it happen

5 ( +8 / -3 )

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