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The Japanese government remains cautious about addressing the population decline and labor shortage by accepting immigrants. What do you think are the pros and cons of Japan accepting more immigrants?

36 Comments

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It's not that hard to immigrate to Japan if you are an educated professional. I personally know quite a few who have done it. And Japan's a pretty easy place to get a work visa - just need a degree (or a reasonable amount of experience) and a sponsor. Permanent residence is not so easy to obtain, though.

So what we are talking about is increasing the number of people who don't meet that criteria, right? Bringing in laborers, in other words?

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Con: oversupplying the labor market with people willing to work for lower wages, thereby depressing wages overall. That's one factor why real wages have stagnated, if not declined, in Western countries. Also, especially high rates of unemployment during downturns.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Hmmm, let me see...more over-stayers, more of my tax dollars going to support unwed mothers of children fathered by their Japanese boyfriends, more foreigners offering services to avoid as you walk toward the eki, ...

-5 ( +6 / -11 )

The right type of foreigner, not the type who stands on the streets of roppongi continuously annoying and hassling you to go to their club. Make sure they are educated and will be able to contribute to society and are not scammy scum.

Make living here more user friendly, as in equal rights when renting, signs in second language, none of the racist crap that still exists today.

Japan paid many brazillians to return to brazil back in 2008 2009 when the economy crashed, under the proviso they cannot return, these people were mostly labour in car plants and construction, japan had a ready labour force on hand but decided to export that. not a smart idea but we know it was just one of many of japans not smart ideas.

10 ( +12 / -2 )

none of the racist crap that still exists today

The total number of countries in the world that have eliminated "all of the racist crap" is zero. We can only hope for continual improvement.

Bilingual signs? For tourists, sure, but if you are going to IMMIGRATE you should learn the language of the country you are immigrating to!

1 ( +6 / -5 )

Discussing pros and cons of Japan letting more people in is one thing, how can Japan offer something to make people WANT to come here in the first place. And without trying to discriminate, I mean why would professional, educated people want to come to a country that has lower salaries, fewer prospects, and high prices even after 20 years of no inflation....... And if they do come then what? Why not offer permanent residence after 10 or 15 years automatically? (Criminals excluded) Why not alter the pension system so the minimum 25 years paying in is changed? etc etc What is there to really attract people, except English teachers and manga lovers?

Forget mass, no qualification/skill necessary immigration, that doesn't work.... look at Europe.

5 ( +9 / -4 )

yes bring in foreign labourer is fine if they are paid a similar wage to there Japanese workers. but unfortunately they are never paid this amount, it just amounts to cheap labour to compete with other countries in Asian. this unfortunately just makes the average japanese worker trying to get that long overdue pay rise much more difficult. why the need to employ Japanese when you can get a chinese worker at almost half the price.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Considering the Fukushima crisis and the sloppy handling of it, which is focused more on making cash off it and convincing the public that all is well and good when its not, I think the focus on promoting immigration might have passed its "best by" date.

But more immigration could see Japan easing off some its more annoying traditions which even Japanese hate. It could lead to more actual discussion of issues. But the growing pains will be horrendous. Japan is still a very insular country. Japan has many good points and bad points, but I see far too many foreigners/immigrants who want to reverse what are actually good points about Japan. Even some Japanese can't tell the difference between good and bad points about Japan.

I can just see a rise in alcohol related troubles among immigrants leading to rules on alcohol even more strict than what we have seen in recent years. I would hate to see drinking at the park and beer vending machines disappear.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

Big business everywhere moans about labour "shortages" and demands higher immigration from third world countries. What they really mean is they are too tight to pay a decent wage (except to their top managers, of course) and want to import labour on the cheap to increase their profits.

I'm pleased that the Japanese government has so far resisted giving in to these companies at a time when many Japanese are not fully employed. Japan does not need and will not benefit from importing low skilled labour from third world countries. There will always be enough low skilled Japanese to do the work. They say there are hundreds of thousands of hikikomori sat at home playing video games all day. Let's turn off their internet connections and get them out on the building sites. Get the idle women out of the coffee shops and into offices.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

why would professional, educated people want to come to a country that has lower salaries, fewer prospects, and high prices even after 20 years of no inflation.......

Why don't you ask some of them. There are literally tens of thousands of professional educated people who come to Japan every year.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

As A "Pro" I see possibility of me entering Great Empire of Rising Sun. It's going to be troublesome otherwise, several years to get appropriate degree and so on. As two of many "Cons" are Criminal activity rise and result in local people losing their jobs. Exactly how it happens in Russia today. I'd stay away from everyone around Eurasia. Cheaper labour mustn't cost in safety and calm of people.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

The Pros-

A labor force large enough to support an aging demographic...

The Cons-

Way too many gaijins to keep the Japanese population free from the contamination that is inherent to all non-Japanese . Not really, but that certainly is a consideration that explains one of the reasons why immigration is so strict in Japan.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Why don't you ask some of them. There are literally tens of thousands of professional educated people who come to Japan every year.

And most of them go home... Hardly does anything to address the population decline, does it.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

Allowing in more immigrants won't help a declining population. Look at what it has done and is doing to the EU. Redesigning and redefining industries is the answer. Diversity of culture, customs and religion is supposed to work in some countries, but it doesn't really, does it?

-1 ( +6 / -7 )

I think the Japanese can and will eventually organize groups of laborers for precisely defined projects that have a beginning and an end, where truly bilingual people are in a supervisor's position, and where the Japanese labor laws are fully upheld. A key point will be to supply housing and cafeteria services that suit the needs of the laborers. The Japanese actually have lots of experience operating such facilities. Think of the giant construction projects in the Middle East and even Algeria (the natural gas plant way out in the desert that was attacked by terrorists, for example). The key is sufficient funding and well-designed facilities.

I think what the Japanese fear is a lot of foreigners moving in and sitting down to eat lunch/dinner with them in low cost restaurants, riding public transportation, and making demands for services from city halls. If some pilot programs are well set up and run as the Japanese know fully well how to run them -- and with no kickbacks and no cheating by shady operators -- then I think the Japanese public will see the light and permit such well-focused and well-managed temporary immigration.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

The US is the ultimate immigrant petri dish, right? When I was in the States, immigrants were always complaining about the US and how they shouldn't be forced to speak English and others said it's a violation of their human rights to make an immigrant speak English and everyone said that if you hate the country or can't speak the lingo then get out!

Now I'm the immigrant in Japan and my years of experiences makes me sympathize with the immigrants about the racist stereotypes, but really, a lot of the immigrants in the US were just jerks. They were always complaining and not wanting to learn the ways and customs and especially the language of their new home country. Immigrants always wanted the US to change for them, adapt for them instead of the other way around.

Honestly, I can't stand foreigners in Japan like that. Learn the language, learn the customs, and realize you have to adapt. You can still celebrate your own customs and holidays and eat your delicious food, just be respectful to your new neighbors and realize you will have to change.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

labor shortage?

I don't see this happening. Many Japanese products these days are made in China or other developing nations. Bringing all those jobs back would certainly be great for the economy, but bad for the Corps. Following the West's economic model is suicide. Don't need immigration, don't have to keep growing. The politicians here are just fat cats with shit for brains.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@livvy

But what to do when those temporary immigrants start falling in love and having babies with the locals?

Unless you're going to introduce apartheid-style segregation, and I can't see that doing much for Japan's reputation....

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Unless you are talking about Asian slave labour (trainees) local workers are prepared to accept less than any self respecting foreigner would.

I've been researching agricultural workers from the Philippines and there seems to be a reluctance to come to Japan because of low wages and lack of renewal of visa after 3 years. Why would they come to Japan to be treated like as Untermenschen when they can go to NZ with their family, get a decent wage (higher than J-workers) with career path and PR after a certain period?

Sorry Oji Chan and Oba San I think the only hope for Japan to remain pure is to follow Australia's lead and put your retirement age up to 80.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

If some pilot programs are well set up and run as the Japanese know fully well how to run them -- and with no kickbacks and no cheating by shady operators -- then I think the Japanese public will see the light and permit such well-focused and well-managed temporary immigration.

There is no such thing as temporary immigration. Immigrants and or their offspring are here to stay. When people are allowed in and begin to grow roots you can't just kick them out after a while.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The pros of immigration liberalization in Japan would occur at an abstract level. Real liberalization would be a tacit admission on the part of the gatekeepers that the "more immigrants, more crime and instability" argument is at a dead end. The foreign population of Japan in 2013 was about twice what it was in 1990, with an overall national population that has barely increased. But was Japan's murder rate in 2013 twice as high as what it was in 1990? No, on the contrary, fewer people were murdered in Japan in 2013 than in any single year since the end of World War II. This doesn't mean that Japan should just open the floodgates and become like a Persian Gulf sheikdom where foreigners outnumber citizens, but it may mean that scaremongering about having non-Japanese who aren't expat bankers or English teachers or other "nonthreatening" First World types living in your neighborhood is stupid and counterproductive. Why would some poor fellow from Nepal who is washing dishes in Japan be compelled to commit any sort of crime?

The con part of immigration liberalization in Japan is that it would potentially be seen as part of a sinister, libertarian, deregulatory agenda being imposed worldwide by the globalist One Percenter crowd. There's a real potential for a nativist backlash, unfortunately. The business community in Japan needs to come clean and be honest about why it supports immigration liberalization (because undoubtedly it does, for the most part).

0 ( +1 / -1 )

PROs NONE

Cons loss of cultural identity, language, crime, more racism and a underclass of educated idiots looking for hand outs . Look at Europe and the US its a mess

-7 ( +2 / -9 )

I mean why would professional, educated people want to come to a country that has lower salaries, fewer prospects, and high prices even after 20 years of no inflation.

Oh, nonsense. Salaries are good here, better than the UK and Australia in my industry by FAR. There's plenty of opportunity for educated, bilingual people who can contribute to an organization. If you can't find those positions, you are probably neither educated, bilingual, nor have anything to offer a company.

It's a great place to live, and I am glad I'm immigrated here.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

"Cons loss of cultural identity, language, crime, more racism and a underclass of educated idiots looking for hand outs . Look at Europe and the US its a mess"

I don't understand how comments like this one that have no credibility can be repeated over and over again as if they do. How exactly are Europe and the US a mess? Rates of violent crime in the latter are WAY lower than what they were 25 years ago at the height of the crack cocaine epidemic. Germany today, as the glue holding together the Eurozone, is arguably more powerful and prosperous than it ever was during the 20th century--how ironic.

Is Japan less of a mess than Europe or the USA because it has a smaller immigrant population? For example, is public transport in America bad because of immigrants? That's a weird argument to make. Many people believe that public transport in the USA--very good at one time--was destroyed largely by the efforts of car companies like General Motors, which systemically pressured cities to dismantle their railway and trolley networks. How did immigrants play a role in turning American trains and subways and buses into what they are?

4 ( +6 / -2 )

The main problem with opening wide the doors to immigration is that if immigrants are too many, what they may do is regroup themselves in certain areas where they create an enclave of their former country, making it hard to integrate them into the larger society. Just a trip to Toronto, supposedly a multicultural paradise, should convince anyone of that: Asians are with Asians, Whites with Whites, Blacks with Blacks, Indians with Indians, with very little mixing except on the job or other situations where people cannot choose who are besides them. What happens in the end is a fragmentation of society because everyone talks to their community instead of participating in a larger society.

It's better to have less immigration and be welcoming of the immigrants, to integrate them into society. But you must be wary of society's integration capacity.

Personally, I see mass immigration as merely a symptom of global inequality and am not in favor of it. If people had the same opportunities in their native country as in any other, very, very few people would actually migrate.

To reverse the population decline, it is better to put measures to favor fertility, for example by supporting parents with young kids and isolating factors about why people don't have kids, which in Japan I think starts with the insane overtime work habits, leaving little time for parents to spend time with each other and with their kids. Then you have to make sure even childcare facilities are available and also find a way to have housing fit for more than 2 children be affordable to people.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Immigrant assimilation is one of the most complex processes in any society, how can Immigrants fully integrate themselves into a new country on the premise that their presence will 'address the population decline?'

The 'pros and cons' depend on immigration creating the necessary multicultural integration, in schooling, health, and religious beliefs.You have to be bilingual, you know you are a foreigner and you have to negotiate this fact, it can be enlightening, because it forces you to respond to the realization that society and life are not for the faint hearted.

Depopulation cannot be politically simplified by replenishing from a migratory level. Search for the reasons behind the population decline, then address those findings. Maybe a solution is a limited influx of immigrants, but if this is a means to improve the stats, I think the population at large will be disappointed to learn that the measure only provides society with a different set of issues.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The 'pros and cons' depend on immigration creating the necessary multicultural integration...

I largely agree with what you say, except I think that the term "multicultural integration" is an oxymoron. Multiculturalism is the opposite of integration, it means that immigrants create minority cultures inside a society and do not integrate the culture of the majority.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Yes, It is a contradiction in terms, one is the opposite of the other, so what is left are clusters of different cultures and beliefs in a form of integration, sometimes side by side, living in Cities the size of Birmingham. This takes many years to evolve. It is not ideal situation. I just feel immigration to solve depopulation sounds like a short term solution and leaves the more serious question, as to why this situation has occurred unanswered.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@kchoze

Personally, I see mass immigration as merely a symptom of global inequality and am not in favor of it. If people had the same opportunities in their native country as in any other, very, very few people would actually migrate.

That's true. How many of the people migrating to another country are moving there because they love the country or its culture? This is a really big problem for any cultural heritage because traditions will be lost to a hodgepodge of rootless individuals.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Well, on the one hand, immigrants provide diversity and variety, but in some cases they can also bring crime and violence. Accepting immigrants requires a delicate touch. Too many, like Britain, and you can end up with towns in which immigrants outnumber locals, causing said locals to feel like foreigners in their own homes. Too few, and the problem for which they were brought in to solve doesn't get fixed. Some immigrants will work hard and integrate themselves into their new home, feeding the economy. Others will work hard and send all of their money back to their home country, not contributing to the economy where they work.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

"The main problem with opening wide the doors to immigration"

How does "accepting more immigrants" turn into "opening wide the doors" to immigration? I'm struck by how quickly people resort to making straw man arguments when the topic of immigration comes up. Why is that? Is immigration incorporation impossible for any government to manage incrementally once liberalization occurs? If so, why do people believe this?

The notion that Japan on immigration policy is just a hair's breadth away from going off the deep end and caving into the multiculturalists and lobbies of employers who wish to pay paltry wages to desperate foreign workers--where does this perception come from? Does the Japanese government's own history of making somewhat irrational choices (e.g. responding to the prospect of being forced to withdraw armed forces from China proper in 1941 by expanding the theater of war against Britain, the USA, and the Netherlands) have something to do with it?

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Pros would be increased "flexibility" and "openness" (I think you all know what I'm referring to here). Cons would be problems with assimilation - this has been an ongoing problem in Australia to the point that the government introduced the "Citizenship Test". FYI about 2/3 of Australia's population consists of immigrants.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

How does "accepting more immigrants" turn into "opening wide the doors" to immigration?

The question asked here was about using immigration to make up labor shortages and reverse the population decline. To do so, you would have to accept more than just a few immigrants, but a whole lot more.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Mass immigration in the mind of the average Japanese means loads of Chinese who basically hate them. That will never be accepted. If it meant loads of Scandinavian good looking blonde men and women, it would be acceptable.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Japanese xenophobia will likely stand in the way of any mass immigration policy. always amazed at comments aimed a Roppongi touts and other foreigners in the hospitality industry. If they didn't do it there would be Japanese touts/ strippers/hostesse/whatever. reason so many in roppongi is that they are aiming themselves at foreigners so Japanese ones are less keen.

Pro's would be cheaper services, a more diverse and less blinjkered population and a reversal of the declining economy (if proper professional and educational criteria used as a filter).

Con's would be more competition for charisma man, possible rise in random crime and more obvious discrimination by locals,.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Accepting immigrants requires a delicate touch. Too many, like Britain, and you can end up with towns in which immigrants outnumber locals, causing said locals to feel like foreigners in their own homes.

You can end up with areas (neighbourhoods, streets) where immigrants outnumber locals, but I doubt that you could correctly name the towns in Britain where the majority of the population are immigrants - if there are any. Even some of the more notorious examples where there is friction between ethnic groups - Rochdale, Bradford - are in fact majority white (78% and 69% respectively).

Also, it wouldn't hurt to remind people that in a provincial city like Bradford, which has a large, highly visible non-white population, a lot of those people are English. Born in England, raised in England, English speaking. No one has a right to tell them what customs they should be following, how they should live, or who they should associate with.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

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