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Increase in foreigners points to diversified future for Tokyo

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In the third installment of its "Map to relocate in Tokyo" series, Nikkan Gendai (March 5) informs readers that one consideration for house hunting in the Big Mikan ought to be the prospect of "coexistence with foreigners," whose numbers have been growing.

At the end of 2011, according to Ministry of Justice figures, Japan had 2,078,508 registered foreign residents -- roughly equivalent to the population of Nagoya. While the total number last year showed a decline of 55,643 foreigners -- down by about 2.7% -- from the 2011 figure, Tokyo managed to post an overall increase in the number of its foreign residents. As of Jan 1 of this year, Tokyo boasted 417,442 foreigners, an increase of 20,032 over 2014.

National demographic data for the Japanese labor force in the 15 to 34 age bracket in 2014 was about 17,320,000, down by approximately 1.41 million since 2010. The fact is, foreign workers will be needed to fill at least some of the looming shortfall.

"Without achieving 'coexistence' with foreigners, the labor pool of young workers will be insufficient," warns Atsushi Miura, an author and founder of the think tank CULTURESTUDIES. He added, "Tokyo owes its economic growth to having attracted young workers from all over the country. But the number of young people are declining and between 2010 and 2040, their numbers are expected to drop by half, creating a labor shortfall projected to be about 3 million workers."

While citizens of China and the two Koreas remain the most numerous among Tokyo's foreign residents, in recent years people from Southeast Asia have been increasing rapidly. Already, communities of Indians and Myanmarese have sprung up, in Nishi Kasai, Edogawa Ward and Takadanobaba in Shinjuku Ward, respectively.

"I think Japanese will acquire more internationalized values as a result," remarks columnist Soichiro Ishihara. "They still tend to be unsociable and only used to their own ways of doing things. Even if friction or trouble occurs at first, they can expand their horizons through organized community meetings or personal contacts. And I suppose international marriages will increase too.

"On the other hand, with the mixing of different cultures, sometimes disagreements or troubles arise due to unfamiliarity with certain taboos. In Thailand, for example, patting small children on the head is verboten, but Japanese do it as a way of showing praise.

Among the major gainers in foreign population among Tokyo's 23 central wards last year were Shinjuku with 30,616 (up from a year ago by 1,895); Edogawa (25,294 and 1,798); Adachi (23,679 and 1,163); Toshima (21,616 and 2,083; Ota (19,353 and 808); Minato (18,420 and 316); Itabashi (18,022 and 1,308); Arakawa (16,188 and 629); and Kita (16,005 and 1,447).

© Japan Today

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Well... New York City has a population of about 8.5 million, of whom almost 40% are foreign-born, and so far New York seems to be doing pretty well--in fact, its ethnic diversity is one of its strengths, although economic inequality has worsened significantly in the past decade, as it has elsewhere. Given time and proximity, I think the Japanese can handle the influx, too.

12 ( +19 / -7 )

Diversification can be good....or bad; just look at the UK, France etc....

7 ( +16 / -9 )

“I think Japanese will acquire more internationalized values as a result,” remarks columnist Soichiro Ishihara. “They still tend to be unsociable and only used to their own ways of doing things.

Let's hope his first statement proves to be correct, because his second one certainly is, and why Japan is not anywhere close to being a truly Internationalized country.

2 ( +10 / -8 )

What's wrong with Japan being less crowded? Japan already has areas with deserted villages where the inhabitants have moved out and owners are unable to sell their houses, places where the property market no longer functions. This is a phenomenon which will probably spread and parts of the economy will simply close down. Unfortunately increase in immigration won't happen because the politicians and a large number of the people don't like foreigners (particularly Asian foreigners) and don't want them in their communities.

The increase in Immigration to Japan could definitely play a useful role in filling gaps in the Japanese labor market, in certain sectors of the economy or in certain regions of Japan. Ultimately, though, the issue of sub-replacement fertility would have to be solved by the Japanese themselves. The global tendency, after all, is for fertility rates to fall below replacement levels, and the effect is all the stronger for the second generation and following of immigrants in low-fertility countries. Japan has heavily invested in other nations. So they are actullay using labor dividend of othet countries. Korea and China are following similar strategies.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

New York seems to be doing pretty well--in fact, its ethnic diversity is one of its strengths... Given time and proximity, I think the Japanese can handle the influx, too.

@Stephan

Your comment raises a key sticking point regarding prospects for an 'influx' of foreigners — one where Japan vastly differs from the primarily English-speaking countries.

In the U.S., for instance, children are regularly taught in schools that diversity has been the source of much of the nation's strength over the years. Despite plenty of ethnic/racial tensions, stories of the rags to riches immigrant who works hard and achieves success are widely celebrated in America.

Japan is the polar opposite. Here, homogeneity (lack of diversity) is proudly touted as one of the nation's strengths in ensuring cohesiveness, low crime rates, and a host of other pluses. When I first came to Japan this attitude surprised me since I had always assumed (been taught) that diversity is a positive and homogeneity is a negative.

Anyway, the increase in the number of foreigners in Tokyo since 2011 aside, I don't foresee a significant surge in Japan's foreign-born population in the next decades given these long-entrenched attitudes.

16 ( +20 / -4 )

The Japanese don't need immigration, what they need to full utilisation of the population they do have. This includes getting women back into the workforce, changing labour laws/rules. Changing the mine set of only big companies offer a future, increase basic pay and the list goes on. Generally if people are happy (quality work/life balance), employment opportunities are good with relatively good pay then the population will grow organically without the need for mass immigration.

20 ( +26 / -6 )

Antthom Mar. 05, 2015 - 09:13AM JST Changing the mine set of only big companies offer a future, increase basic pay and the list goes on. Generally if people are happy (quality work/life balance), employment opportunities are good with relatively good pay then the population will grow organically without the need for mass immigration.

All solutions are going to be tough and brutal. No one wanted to pay for what the J-government spent this money on. The older generation is still benefitting from the system enormously, but the younger generation will end up paying the price. The biggest benefit for full time workers is a legal protection and retirement benefit. But the number of lifetime jobs has been declining for decades. Part time workers in Japan makes up staggering 40 percent of Japan's labor force. Problem is that most part time job earn about 40 percent less per hour than full-time positions. Abe should try protect the part time workers. Many of these part-timers often work 40 hours a week with no benefits. They account for all of Japan's job growth in the past decade. The rise of this part-time economy explains why Japan is the only developed country where the average pay has consistently fallen in the last 15 years. In the Japan’s rigid labor market, temp work is rarely a steppingstone to something better. It’s a permanent, low-wage existence and it's a big problem.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

@Sensato

Japan is the polar opposite. Here, homogeneity (lack of diversity) is proudly touted as one of the nation's strengths in ensuring cohesiveness, low crime rates, and a host of other pluses. When I first came to Japan this attitude surprised me since I had always assumed (been taught) that diversity is a positive and homogeneity is a negative. Anyway, the increase in the number of foreigners in Tokyo since 2011 aside, I don't foresee a significant surge in Japan's foreign-born population in the next decades given these long-entrenched attitudes.

Spot on. Schools here couldn't be further from grasping the concept of "internationalization". In fact, most kids I've spoken to here have no interest in life outside Japan. Most have no interest learning English, as they don't see the "need" for it. Not that I blame them though, with there being heavy influences from their parents & grandparents, as well as the hopelessly "out of the loop" Japanese media. And don't even get me started on the national curriculum!

"Diversified future"? Been to a real estate agency recently? Or a municipal office? How about Japanese TV? Oh yeah, very "diverse" & "culturally aware"...

Japan is definitely getting increasingly insular.

13 ( +19 / -6 )

Diversification can be good....or bad; just look at the UK, France etc....

This! Open borders has made what Europe is today. A gigantic mess. Now im not saying, diversity is bad, but if you are not willing to adjust to the culture and don't want to work, better stay at home.

15 ( +19 / -4 )

Most have no interest learning English, as they don't see the "need" for it.

This can often be the difference between a good teacher and a bad one. I took French in high school for a few years, and hated it. I had no need for it, and it contained no relevance to my life. Then I switched to Japanese class, and the teacher was great, and even though Japanese had no relevance to my life, my teacher generated an interest in me that eventually led to me being able to speak Japanese at the advanced level that I now speak it at.

I've talked to many Japanese people who have told me that the reason they became interested in English and/or foreign lands was an interesting ALT they had back in their school days.

Expecting kids to have an interest in something that holds pretty much zero relevance to their lives is putting the cart before the horse. Teachers should be the ones who are creating this interest, not expecting it to already exist.

5 ( +9 / -4 )

Based on the article foreigners are leaving Japan since 2011 (50k) in large numbers due to the earthquake and radiation scare. With the weak yen, there are other attractive destinations in the world.

One area that needs URGENT URGENT attention is family law, with international divorces generally giving the young kids to the mother WHETHER OR NOT she has any ability to make a living. And stiffing the father with no visitation. Truly ghastly results for some.

Finally, work life balance is important, but at my large JP company, spouting about work life balance is like kicking my boss in the nuts. It just means I am lazy in their eyes.

14 ( +18 / -4 )

I doubt more foreigners will come permanently. Japanese really have a hard time coping the an internationalized mindset / attitude. Just as I have my own issues of conforming to their ways. The only ones who really stay are the foreigners from 3rd world countries.

-9 ( +8 / -17 )

The only ones who really stay are the foreigners from 3rd world countries.

No.

3 ( +11 / -8 )

Successful immigration only works if you have a system and culture that welcomes new arrivals into the society, giving them full opportunities to integrate into the local communities.

Canada is a relatively successful example. France and the Netherlands much less so.

Japan is even more insular, and will always keep foreigners on "the outside", denying them full integration in various ways. Thus, a huge increase in immigration will not go well in this country.

15 ( +17 / -2 )

Not enough foreigners to secure the future of the country.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

The only ones who really stay are the foreigners from 3rd world countries.

There are at least 10 people near my area from US, Canada and Australia settled in Japan for over 24 years. I didn't realize these were 3rd world countries.

However the Japanese do need to be more accepting of foreigners.I have seen people call the cops when the foreign kids play noisily. These are not teenagers but 5-10 year olds. I see the same people take no notice when the Japanese kids turn rowdy.

Japan may not be a country developed by immigrants, but lot of them do contribute to its growth and deserve to be accepted on an equal basis.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Expecting kids to have an interest in something that holds pretty much zero relevance to their lives is putting the cart before the horse. Teachers should be the ones who are creating this interest, not expecting it to already exist.

True. But I've also think language classes should become optional, after perhaps 1 year of compulsory attendance. Those who have no interest can learn something else, and the teachers can focus on helping those who want to attend.

Regards immigration, I've seen significant changes to attitudes since the 90s. Those long-term foreigners who can't or won't move with the times, look silly when complaining about locals who are also stuck in the same era, and thankfully decreasing.

Saw the same thing happen back home. Italians and Greeks were gradually accepted, Asians were gradually accepted. It make take time but it's like trying to hold back the tide. Assimilation is inevitable. You too can play a positive part in this.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

I think the increasing public debate over immigration is good preparation for Japan. Nothing will change until Japan experiences some sort of shock, most likely economic. Once that happens, all groundwork laid up til then will pay off handsomely as immigration will be embraced much more openly by Japanese I think. Until the vast majority of Japanese personally experience some disadvantage from the falling population, nothing will change

3 ( +6 / -3 )

Unfortunately, diversity hasn't lead to variety. Compare a Canadian supermarket to a Japanese one and you'll see what I mean.

10 ( +12 / -2 )

In fact, most kids I've spoken to here have no interest in life outside Japan.

When I was in Japan I had the occasion to teach a private course on foreign business practices to some of the high-potential recruits of one of the large banking groups. Now these were all English-speaking graduates of some of Japan's top colleges/universities, so you would think they would be the most "internationalized". But I had one of them tell me that in his opinion "it was Japan, and the rest of the world".

0 ( +7 / -7 )

Is it me or do women from English-speaking countries not want to stay in Japan long-term?

16 ( +19 / -3 )

onagagamo:

Seems pretty clear to me that the UK and most other European nations have benefited significantly from immigration. You can't just focus on the activities of Mohammed Emwazi (a.k.a. "Jihadi John") and the hate preachers and seriously suggest their nefarious activities counterbalances the benefits from the large the large majority of hardworking and law-abiding people who have come from overseas to make the UK their home.

And everyone saying that gaikokujin don't want to stay in Japan, how do you get that impression? Obviously not everyone wants to stay here long term, but I know a lot of non-Japanese people who are making Japan their home for the forseeable future and who find it a very sumi-yasui country. I certainly do.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

I think Japan should be more open to foreigners living here that are wanting to stay long term. Its certainly getting better as time passes relative to Japan, but still pretty slow & not very methodical.

I don't know if much ground work is being laid down that would really help if there were sudden larger numbers of foreigners arriving though, yeah the topic gets broached here & there but that's not likely to do much.

One thing that really ticks me off though is Japanese officialdom seem to think if it DOES decide to pursue immigration that they simply put in an "ORDER" for the requisite number & type of gaijin, or maybe they can order gaijins on AMAZON............they certainly don't put ANY thought into what would make Japan attractive or how to help integrate us gaijin, and amazingly they seem to think the if the need for high level professionals that they can just order those as well. Its all rather weird to me watching this play out

4 ( +7 / -3 )

'Is it me or do women from English-speaking countries not want to stay in Japan long-term?'

It certainly isn't just you. My English wife has seen most of her Aussie, American and British female friends leave because of the difficulties they faced. The reason we are leaving is the fact she's reached the end of her tether and the reason we stayed this long was the good money we were earning ( I was earning more despite being less intelligent and less capable ). I'd also add that our company has lost quite a few highly capable and well qualified Japanese women who went to work abroad. No Japanese men have done the same where I work.

10 ( +11 / -1 )

Immigration can increase, but Japan has to stay Japan ! Not becoming a global place where everybody speak english, think in the same way, eat the same food... Usa and Israel build their own country with immigration, but is it right for other countries ? Look at western european countries : they have no tradition of welcoming immigrants ( which are often seen as invaders ) and they allowed immigration only for economical reasons. Until now, they are not able to manage the problem. In theory, immigration is a good idea because it means "opening the mentality", "tolerance" and so on...but in practice, it has other meanings : think about all the south east asian workers who will work during years in subcontractor companies for 2 bucks. Welcome to japan, welcome to Toyotism nightmare !

-2 ( +6 / -8 )

“coexistence with foreigners,”

There's your problem, to write that sentence is derogatory.

8 ( +10 / -2 )

@Strangerland,

You said it!

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

My English wife has seen most of her Aussie, American and British female friends leave because of the difficulties they faced.

Can I ask what difficulties? I'm also British, been here yonks and can't think of any difficulties I've faced here specifically on account of being from an English-speaking country. I don't think my tether is particularly longer than average....

5 ( +9 / -4 )

Yes, I'm sure immigrants want to contribute to Japan's compulsory pension scheme that will run dry by the time they are able to claim it. There's no way Japan will accept enough immigrants to sustain generations beyond Babyboomers through the system. This country's taxes are a steal. Right now, needy Japanese people can't even claim welfare or income support without registering as Communists or other extremists on the opposite political spectrum.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

'Can I ask what difficulties? I'm also British, been here yonks and can't think of any difficulties I've faced here specifically on account of being from an English-speaking country. I don't think my tether is particularly longer than average....'

The point I was making wasn't about women from English speaking countries in particular. It was about women from countries not near the bottom end of world rankings in gender equality working in Japan. I've worked at a pretty traditional manufacturing company in Japan for 14 years and the very few female staff from the US, Australia and Ireland I've worked with either shot out the door like scalded cats or lasted two years at the most when they saw Japanese company culture for what it is. Quite a few of the more ambitious Japanese women I've worked with have done the same. My wife's tether is pretty long too but it but I can see why she's reached the end it as I can see what it's like for working women here.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

"Increase in foreigners points to diversified future for Tokyo"

Not necessarily. The foreign population is usually just a recycled population. Most foreigners work here for a bit, sometimes many years, but then leave and new foreigners come, sometimes literally taking their place, doing the same job and living in the same space.

The increase in population could be tied to more people coming temporarily to teach English or for tech jobs. But this isn't a permanent group usually, just come and play transients.

For real change, the foreigners have to stay, get married and start a family, then there's a chance for diversification, but really in Japan, as an immigrant you're more less shamed into fitting into their round hole, not being different.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

Although, there might be some difficulties when the number of immigrants increases, pertaining cultural difference and protocol difference, this is good tendency because it gives opportunities to work to those who are currently between jobs while reviving Japanese economy.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Nothing wrong with diversity. In fact, I'd say all other factors being equal a diverse population is superior to a monoculture.

The problem is that "all other factors" are almost never equal and that a society can only sustain a population that is as diverse as that society is prepared to integrate. Japan already makes it quite difficult for large numbers of unskilled workers to come here to seek out jobs on spec, so it's not like people have to worry about hordes of "tired, poor, huddled masses yearning to breathe free" showing up at Narita. But it seems to me that schools can be quite hit-and-miss about having good "Japanese-as-a-second-language" programs for the children of immigrants, and I think THAT is going to be where the success or failure of Japanese multiculturalism will lie. For we who chose to come here the onus is on us to fit in and we can take responsibility for our place in Japan, but for people who are here because they're dependents of people who made that choice, things could start to go wrong for Japan if they aren't supported in assimilating. I've seen some schools with excellent support programs... I've also seen schools with woefully insufficient programs who let immigrant children who aren't already fluent flounder and fail.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

the number of "foreigners" includes the 3rd generation Koreans and Brazilian returnees?? agree, the mad dash in the world for "growth" is all wrong. i don't see why it should be an issue for Japanese population to drop. better quality of life for all concerned.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

I realize that this isn't the point of the article, but in English-language journalism, wouldn't it be better to see the word "foreigners" (as a direct translation of 外国人) eliminated in favor of the words actually used in the English-speaking world, such as "immigrants"?

Someone who moves to London or New York or Melbourne (or East Podunk, for that matter) and takes up residence there is not a "foreigner". This person is an immigrant. There are short-term immigrants and long-term immigrants, and permanent immigrants, but "foreigner" carries the connotation of being a non-resident (and one who probably doesn't understand the language).

It's a small semantic issue, but who wants to move to another country and still be called a "foreigner" even decades after moving there, integrating oneself, learning the language, etc.? The Anglosphere nations have their problems with immigration, but at least they do not foist this indignity on the people who take up residence there.

13 ( +15 / -2 )

"Someone who moves to London or New York or Melbourne (or East Podunk, for that matter) and takes up residence there is not a "foreigner". This person is an immigrant"

Not true!

In London an immigrant foreigner is an immigrant and a foreigner.

Your rethoric may convince the lesser infomed.

I am Londoner, and British. And I live in London too.

-11 ( +6 / -17 )

Though its 2015 Japan makes things difficult for foreigners. Police harassment being among the top but mostly because someone gets paranoid if foreigner is merely walking down a neighborhood possibly taking a shortcut to get to the grocery store, restaurant, or station. If the foreigner is seen more than once, you can bet in the next two to three days an increase of police on bikes or patrol cars will be seen at the same time as was the foreigner was reported. I have seen that many times when I am in the balcony. However I noticed that this only happens when the foreigner is non Asian, and the police patrol quickly increases if the foreigner is black compared to other ethnic races. I have also seen when a non Japanese asian and another non Asian foreigner, who actually spoke, read and can write Japanese was ignored and the staff conversed with the non Japanese Asian instead, despite limited Japanese speaking abilities, that was not very nice. Japan has a long way to go.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Sensato is right; if you think that Japan is going to change and allow more immigration, please change up the stuff your smoking in your pipe because it aint going to happen. Sure, there will be the usual invites to learn Nihongo and culture and work exchange programs but more foriegners? Please. The most foriegners that were ever in Japan were during the bubble period. You can remember thousands in the park and in the street selling stuff. There used to be thousands of foriegners working in Japan, now there is no incentive because the economy isnt near what it used to be, and never will be, no matter how much crap gets put out there about how good its going to get. There isnt the substance to make it work. What Japan will do is become more insular, nationlistic and content with its slow decline; things will stablize at 90 mil or so, and still be forever unique. Its too late in the game for any real game changer stratedgy like mandatory English or multiculturism. It just aint going to happen.

8 ( +13 / -5 )

Japan is the polar opposite. Here, homogeneity (lack of diversity) is proudly touted as one of the nation's strengths in ensuring cohesiveness, low crime rates, and a host of other pluses. When I first came to Japan this attitude surprised me since I had always assumed (been taught) that diversity is a positive and homogeneity is a negative.

And apparently you are stuck in your learned worldview, as are the Japanese. What makes you think your multicultural ideology is better?

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Can I ask what difficulties? I'm also British, been here yonks and can't think of any difficulties I've faced here specifically on account of being from an English-speaking country. I don't think my tether is particularly longer than average....

Cleo,

Even though your fortunate to live in Japan's Shangri La surely you could understand the challenges for western women( & other non J-women) in Japan contemplating staying a while wrt work, social lives Japan sadly pretty slim pickins for women in that regard so should be hardly surprising only a few stick it out get outta dodge!

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

@5petals

It sounds like your post is referring to only westerners, but when the MoJ talks about foreign residents they don't make any distinction between Chinese, Korean, western etc. The Chinese population has boomed since the bubble years, and as a result there are in fact more foreigners in Japan now

2 ( +2 / -0 )

@Yoshitune,

Your correct, many Chinese from West China etc have "settled" but many if not most assimilate in their own communities and live together; not much integration going on there. Also, as another poster pointed out, those Chinese and other immigrants will rotate in and out. Ive met some who could not speak any Japanese. Almost any sagyo labor type work you can apply for in Japan, there will always be a few Chinese in that company. Some are attending languge school etc. They in turn will introduce friends and family as they have established trust with the employer. Its parallel to the U.S. and the Mexican immigrant issue; its a cheap and well established labor relationship due to the close proximity. I dont think the riff between China and Japan is as deep as the media makes it out to be. Ive observed the relationship between Chinese and Japanese at work etc and they treat each other different than say a Caucasin or other Asian. Ive seen Japanese avoid them or treat them with a reserved respect of sorts and wont stare at them as they do other foriegners.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

The huge drop in the yen make it unprofitable to work here if one has financial responsibilities overseas. The is a reasonably large percentage of the foreigners who are here. Japan will have fewer foreign people working here, and more foreign people visiting here. The numbers just haven't recorded the change yet, but they will.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

In the U.S., for instance, children are regularly taught in schools that diversity has been the source of much of the nation's strength over the years. Despite plenty of ethnic/racial tensions, stories of the rags to riches immigrant who works hard and achieves success are widely celebrated in America. Japan is the polar opposite. Here, homogeneity (lack of diversity) is proudly touted as one of the nation's strengths in ensuring cohesiveness, low crime rates, and a host of other pluses. When I first came to Japan this attitude surprised me since I had always assumed (been taught) that diversity is a positive and homogeneity is a negative.

You seem to assume, despite mounting evidence to the contrary, that "your" way is right and the "Japanese" way is wrong. Go ahead and try to prove the bolded statement wrong.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

I see allot about how Japan is changing etc but those people miss the mark completely. They dont understand some very fundamental concepts when it comes to Japan. You hear allot about young people changing etc. Of course some go abroad, come back and want to apply their new found identity to Japan, but Japan inc is not designed that way; it does not allow for this gai behavior and its quickly crushed. The "radicals" who wont wear a shain costume or uniform and fit into the very tightly controlled and regulated company and society enviorment are destined to work in keiyaku or baito jobs. Its that black and white. So, if they want more money or to get a house or J dream (this concept still escapes me as to what the J dream is, unless its perpetual group belonging) they must conform. Its not a generalization or cliche when they say Japan is a conformist society. If you dont conform, you dont belong therefore you want be helped. Your forever dependant on somebody else as its a patriarchial society. Sure, some radicals have succeeded, but if you look closesly at their organization, its still very Japanese. Apply this to immigration. It works either 2 ways: (1) the immigrants are mostly young who will learn Japanese then sent to work in companies in industrial parks in Japan then sent home to manage a branch office or used as manual labor in Japan (present paradigm) or (2) change society to fit the immigrant #2 is not possible as Japan cannot change, if it changed the glue would all melt, Im talking about the fundamentals.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

There is a lot of negativity on this thread. I have never had much trouble living here. People are generally polite, and I see acts of kindness a few times a week - occasionally a few times a day. As long as I am not too obnoxious, I am treated as well or better here than I would be in other countries. My incoming money is greater than my outgoing money. I don't see much crime, except occasional umbrella or bike theft, and the bikes are not taken while people are on them. I really don't see that it is difficult to live here, and, except for some administrative procedures that aren't designed for my situation, it doesn't seem to be so difficult for Japanese to have me live here. Certainly some things could be better, but I can't see any reason to be so super-critical. Every country has some procedures that are more difficult for foreigners. The obstacles in Japan are not usually insurmountable.

4 ( +8 / -4 )

White, English-speaking women living in Japan long-term with Japanese husbands do face "difficulties," namely, depression. I have seen it again and again: women arrive in Japan to teach English in their 20's, marry a Japanese man, have kids and live in a nice house, but as the years roll by the see their peers back home well into successful, engaging careers while they are exactly where the were when in their 20's (but only teaching part-time now) except no one calls them "kawaii" any more, makes them feel special anymore, and they experience depression.

8 ( +11 / -3 )

@farmboy,

Yes, very kind and sweet and all that. Nice stuff to smoke in the pipe, been there done that. So this is my last post on this, but I remember a Japanese lady telling me that Japan is changing! She went to a dept store and saw a foriegner working at the reception desk. I went and checked it out, and it was a halfu girl (mixed race). Yes, bery bery international indeed. Go to SG HK US or EURO and see over half the staff of mixed nationality. But wait, those conbini clerks, what about them? Yes, what about them in say 10 years?Will they still be there or promoted? But I did this or I know somebody that did that! Good on them, and there are draft picks for soccer clubs and the NBA but no matter how many dunks or goal scoring I did in college, its more realisitc for me to choose a career where the probability of success is high instead of chance or whim. I smoked the funny stuff in my pipe for a long time and changed it up, then stopped smoking it all together. Just like a junkie, you want more and more until you realize the fundamentals are what they are. The fundamentals can be hard for a forienger in Japan to accept to they keep the funny stuff in their pipe. Kindness, sweetness fakeness etc I can find anywhere. I suggest stop smoking the funny stuff alltogether.

0 ( +6 / -6 )

having flyin fly out tourists wont diversify Japan, there needs to be a huge increase in foreign workers prepared to stay here long term & raise families, sorry but I just dont see the J gov or japanese accepting such a large number or gaijin intergrating (not assimilated) in Japansese society. multicultural means just that.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I'm also British, been here yonks and can't think of any difficulties I've faced here specifically on account of being from an English-speaking country.

I'm going to assume you have never had any career aspirations (I'm talking about real jobs with advancement opportunities and good pay). The types of foreign women who stay on here are either those who find a business niche and aren't afraid of hard work, or "kept women" who don't mind trading self-respect for security. It's disingenuous of you to suggest that just because one foreign woman is happy here, then there is no reason for any other foreign woman to be miserable enough to want to leave. You obviously don't get out very much.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

5petals is spot on!

0 ( +3 / -3 )

@Wakarimasen

i don't see why it should be an issue for Japanese population to drop. better quality of life for all concerned

The population is dropping as well as ageing, so it is questionable that the quality of life will improve as a result.

@ThonTaddeo

I realize that this isn't the point of the article, but in English-language journalism, wouldn't it be better to see the word "foreigners" (as a direct translation of 外国人) eliminated in favor of the words actually used in the English-speaking world, such as "immigrants"?

Hi Thon,

Perhaps. But I think the black-and-white view here is coming from the Japanese government. The census in Japan doesn't ask about ethnicity, only about citizenship; and one cannot hold a Japanese passport (i.e. citizenship) alongside another. So they simply count Japanese passport holders as Japanese (regardless of the fact that many of them are of non-Japanese ethnicity or mixed race), and non-Japanese passport holders as resident foreigners (despite the fact that many of them are mixed race and/or were born and raised here). So the stats aren't giving the clearest picture that they might. It would be interesting to see the stats for ethnicity rather than citizenship - I don't know of any such data that have been collected, but if anyone does I'd appreciate the links!

(also does anyone know how the census counts minors who hold dual nationality? I mean, I know they have to choose which identity to keep when they turn 20, but how are they counted prior to that?)

@5petals

Not sure why you mentioned western China? Majority of the Chinese that I know in Tokyo are originally from Shanghai. I'd also argue that they integrate quite well - I have a Chinese friend who is a doctor and another who is a university researcher, and they speak near-native Japanese and don't stick to their own community. Sounds like you're talking more about the Chinese who are on the government "internship" program or whatever it's called; that program is rife with human rights abuses and is unlikely to continue for all that long (I hope not anyway!)

2 ( +2 / -0 )

3

Good| Bad

Dirk TMar. 06, 2015 - 10:04AM JST

"White, English-speaking women living in Japan long-term with Japanese husbands do face "difficulties," namely, depression. I have seen it again and again: women arrive in Japan to teach English in their 20's, marry a Japanese man, have kids and live in a nice house, but as the years roll by the see their peers back home well into successful, engaging careers while they are exactly where the were when in their 20's (but only teaching part-time now) except no one calls them "kawaii" any more, makes them feel special anymore, and they experience depression".

Wish I could disagree with you on that point, but I can't. Life with educational opportunities for all women and men here to pursue their deeper interests that would lead to certification in a variety of fields that open doors to career opportunities and independence would be great. Imagine learning and growning and gaining social and career responsibilities and advancement?

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Fat chance and one has a better chance of winning the lotto than this issue being resolved in Japan. Too many anti foreigners but kept secretly and whispered sort of like two faces. one with a smile but behind is the other face.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

5petals absolutely nailed it. Do yourselves a favour and read up!

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

Tokyo has always been more international, I definitely see a big rise in foreign population building up to the Olympics ( short term folks - 10 years or less ) and then drop again after everyone made their cash. Tokyo is already pretty international really, my only issue is that I do expect the Chinese or other south asian guys that work in convenis to atleast master some level of Japanese or English .. but that is really up to their bosses... and maybe just my expectations and I should simply start learning Mandarin

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Kindness, sweetness fakeness etc I can find anywhere.

I don't really require fakeness. I require a place where people aren't argumentative or in your face all the time. My last visit to New York, I asked someone what time it was, and the reply was, "Buy a watch." Really, it was funny, even though the guy wasn't kidding, but it would be annoying if you had to hear that kind of nonsense every day.

I'm perfectly okay with, "It's gotten cold recently, hasn't it?" "Yes, it has." I might call that a formulaic nicety, but I wouldn't call it fake. And it HAS gotten cold recently. You had better wear a scarf...

4 ( +5 / -1 )

@farmboy,

Sorry to break my rule, but this will be my last response to this; I had to comment on your lattest post. I actually miss that straightfoward take the initative reply "buy a watch" So why dont you have a watch? I never ask a Japanese what time it is, or anything else for that manner. I find the paranoid eigo dekinai response I might get to be annoying. If the NYC dude told me to "buy a watch" yeah, it might sting at first, but I get the point, I need to stop bugging or depending on somebody else and get myself a watch. The sting of reality is what makes me learn; I dont need the funny stuff in my pipe to escape from reality. I love that about the West and I hate the dependant give up my mind body and soul to somebody else just to satisfy some cultural norm or keep a master subordinate relationship.

I do respect that Japanese never ask to borrow money unless its the occasional homeless man who singles out the sucker gaijin (I seem to always get that) and many in the US do ask to borrow money; borrow just means empty your pocket because he aint pay it back. Perhaps the guy you asked for the time had one too many experiences like this. I can assure you, Ive experienced plenty of rudeness in Japan and much more hospitality elsewhere. If you were offended by dude saying "buy a watch" me wonders if you have really expereinced Japan.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

I sometimes ponder the idea of going back to Tokyo. Problem would be that I own a house here and would have to send money back regularly to make mortgage payments. Rental income on its own would not be enough.

The exchange rate right now makes Japan good for a visit, but unattractive to work in, for now at least. Other issue is what I would do for a job and what real career prospects I would have.

Career prospects back here are pretty good right now, so hesitant to give that up.

2019 Rugby World Cup and 2020 Olympics are two pull factors however.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Being a foreigner I respect Japan culture and as long as people come to Japan and integrate and not to bring social problems or extremes, I welcome anyone willing to call Japan their home.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Can I ask what difficulties?

Visa.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

surely you could understand the challenges for western women( & other non J-women) in Japan contemplating staying a while wrt work, social lives Japan sadly pretty slim pickins for women in that regard so should be hardly surprising only a few stick it out get outta dodge!

To those who negged me perhaps you should read the article on Okada-san who won an award for Courage curtesy of the US Govt to get an idea of how bad it is for JAPANESE women in Japan let alone non-Japanese women!

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Here's what's likely to happen:

A few years of blissful internationalization where locals open their arms and say, "Welcome to Japan!", especially right before the Olympics.

Then right after the Olympics, the locals start complaining that the many foreigners who choose to stay are not polite enough, hygienic enough, too noisy, etc.

Then when a few foreigner students start outperforming the locals in school, and out-compete them for jobs, then we got protests complaining that foreigners are stealing jobs.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

To those who negged me perhaps you should read the article on Okada-san who won an award

Okada-san should have been Osakabe-san, oooopps!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

New York is doing well because the foreigners who come are highly talented. Highly talented foreigners go to New York because they know they'll get a fair shake. Will Tokyo be able to attract highly talented foreigners?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I agree with Antthom and sfjp330. And, since vacancy rates are so high, why not use that extra space to make house/apt. sizes a little larger or maybe even a little more green space around homes?

The current trend of government and corporations forcing full-time workers (both native and foreign) to pay for their own benefits (as required by law) is both regressive and punitive.

Treating foreigners as “full-time, temporary”, as interchangeably replaceable, second class or as “equal, but separate” is obviously not the answer.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

To be a foreigner in the big mikan 温州蜜柑

I find it interesting, being a native New Yorker being one-half 1st generation American (mom emmigrated to NY from Scotland) as well as a possible future resident of Tokyo, that they seem to know the specific exact number of foreigners in each of Tokyo's wards. Comparing the Big Mikan to the Big Apple, my hometown. Its possible that I will be one addition to those numbers. The difference in NY, is that the actual number of foreigners here in NYC is nothing more than a wild guess. I wonder what statistical percentage of foreigners in Tokyo and the rest of Japan are undocumented? Surely the percentages of legal/documented, vs. "Undocumented" foreigners in Japan -- compared to the US -- would be widely different, no?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Heaven forbid that Japan should end like an anglophone nation! Where would I go then?!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

How the human species starts is how it seems to be ending. Yes, our attitudes here in the States are better than those in Japan, but how much better? Racism is once again growing. Hatred or the poor, police shooting blacks, the poor, the handicapped. Frankly, I don't think the majority of the human race will EVER get over its insular attitudes of thinking the 'outsider' anyone somewhat different than themselves to be 'wrong' and therefore not really worthy, in the long run, of life. I think we're a failed species. We can't learn to regard people from other countries, other races as true human beings. We destroy our planet. What kind of species would behave as we do?

2 ( +3 / -1 )

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