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Gov't looks to immigrants as population shrinks

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Japan's ruling party is considering plans to encourage foreign workers to stay in the country long-term, a daily reported Monday after the birth rate fell for the 27th successive year.

The Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) has proposed setting up an "immigration agency" to help foreign workers -- including providing language lessons, the Nikkei economic daily said without naming sources.

The party also intends to reform current "training" programs for foreign workers, which have been criticized for giving employers an excuse for paying unfairly low wages, the paper said.

LDP lawmakers believe that immigration reform will help Japanese companies secure necessary workers as the declining birthrate is expected to further dent in the nation's workforce, it said.

A group of about 80 LDP lawmakers will draw up a package of proposals by mid-May, it said. No immediate comment was available from the party on Monday.

A government report on the falling birthrate warned in April that Japan's workforce could shrink by more than one-third to 42.28 million by 2050 if the country fails to halt the decline.

The government said Monday the number of children in Japan has fallen for the 27th straight year to hit a new low.

Children aged 14 or younger numbered 17,250,000 as of April 1, down by 130,000 from a year earlier, the internal affairs ministry said in an annual survey released to coincide with the May 5 Children's Day national holiday.

The figure is the lowest since 1950 when comparable data started.

The ratio of children to the total population sank for 34 years in a row to 13.5%, also a record low, the ministry said.

Local media said it was also believed to be the world's lowest, coming below 14.1% for both Italy and Germany.

Japan has struggled to raise its birthrate with many young people deciding that families place a burden on their lifestyles and careers.

Japan's population has been shrinking since 2005 and the country is not producing enough children to prevent the drop.

Government leaders in Japan, which largely thinks of itself as ethnically homogeneous, have rejected the idea of allowing mass-scale immigration.

Some politicians have argued an influx of immigrants would lead to lower wages for Japanese workers and a higher crime rate.

© AFP

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Those government leaders who reject mass scale immigration are absolutely correct. No one needs to point out the examples of other countries where their swiss cheese borders have led to rampant immigration, with the taxpayers bearing the brunt of their crimes, their poverty, their useage of valuable services and resources such as schools/hospitals. But of course since this is Japan I suppose people feel quite different about it compared to other countries.

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From an economic perspective it is clear through moving labor-intensive factories to China that Japan does not need to have a large, growing pool of labor. There would be a sound arguement for attracting a small number of highly qualified and skilled people. I agree with you rjd_jr. Rampant immigration is not the answer but whether the J-govt will do anything to stop the shady practices of some employers who take advantage of foreigners is yet to be seen. Employment rules are sometimes enforced in Japan.

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If you look at the US and how our "swiss cheese" borders have allowed millions to come into our country and decreas wages and put a tax on our schools and medical services. They also depress wages when they are illegal and have no proper documentation, and thus employers can pay them below scale wages, and not have to report the income to the Social Security system to pay taxes. Not to mention, the influx of criminals and others with no skills who see America as a place of opportunity. Why steal in your country if everyone there has nothing to steal.

Having said all that, Japan can copy the American method but make a few changes. Open the borders, but have inplace a firm system of controls. If you let more foreigners in, then ensure that they have skills and a valid employment job that will pay them a wage to sustain themselves over here. If they do and loose the job, time should be given to allow them to find another, but if in time they don't then they have to leave.

Ensuring that the immigrants that come in are not criminals through background checks will also help.

What I see the problem that will arise is the xenophobia that will occur. There will be Japanese who will not accept the foreigners who work here, and inevitably they will face discrimination from the Japanese society at large from those who don't want to accept them, or believe that all us foreigners are criminals.

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Bad idea. We don't really don't know the economic effects of depopulation, as it hasn't happened yet. It HAS happened in Russia - and personal income there has doubled over the last decade!

Immigration does, however, serve the needs of big business - they get a cheaper workforce through greater competition for fewer available jobs. They can pay the rest of us (90 percent of the population) lower wages and cut our benefits, while we grapple with rising costs of housing, energy and food brought on by increased demand from the growing population. This offsets any of the purported economic advantages big business and the politicians talk about.

The immigration-orientated countries are now experiencing this. For proof, look at the absurd housing and energy prices now in such places as Vancouver, London, California, etc.

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What I see the problem that will arise is the xenophobia that will occur.

Hmm, as opposed to now? Generally I believe that more contact with outsiders decreases xenophobia, not the opposite.

There will be Japanese who will not accept the foreigners who work here, and inevitably they will face discrimination from the Japanese society at large from those who don't want to accept them, or believe that all us foreigners are criminals.

Again, this situation already exists to some extent. What I would agree with is that if the government encourages only an influx of low wage laborers (and not more educated professionals, etc.) it could have negative effects. We would have a stratified society where the foreigners are nearly all doing low wage work, and foreigners could be increasingly looked down upon. A foreign population that more mirrors the Japanese population is healthier for society overall, in my opinion.

Anyway, I don't think it's a question of immigration vs. no immigration. Immigration is necessary; the question is how to control it in the best way for both Japanese society and the immigrants.

Cheers,

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The only type of foreigners who would want to come to japan, in the main, will be the relatively unskilled, low paid workers. The japanese bosses are rubbing their hands with glee thinking about how low wages they can pay. We can see with the "trainees" situation how it works. These foreigners will just be fodder to be used and spat out.

We can see how the japanese view foreigners with the "you're a criminal" fingerprinting at the airports. There's now way useful skilled foreigners would come to japan. Why should they?? To get some crappy 1 year contract and then be thrown out on a whim. 90% of foreigners have 1 year contracts! Little crumbs thrown at the useless foreign army.

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Bizarro, In my opinion and from what I have seen since I have been here in Japan, if the gov't did encourage the influx of highly skilled workers, then that would cause a conflict between Japanese citizens who are trying to compete against foreigners for jobs as they get harder to come by. The same thing is happening in the US in regards with the H1 Visas (technical visas). People like Bill Gates have been in congress complaining that due to the limits of H1 visas admitted each year, companines like Microsoft can't find the quality software engineers that they are looking for.

Never mind the fact that there are plenty of out of work software engineers in the US from the dot.com bust as well as college graduates, but companies can get away with paying a lower wage to these visa holders than US citizens. I can see this happening with Japan, in regards to foreigners coming here taking jobs that are in competition with skilled Japanese workers.

I agree that immigration with controls is a good measure to help decrease the xenophobic fears of Japan, but it will be how the gov't gets the message out. Even in this article, it states how gov't leaders feel that Japan is a

ethnically homogeneous, have rejected the idea of allowing mass-scale immigration.

So it will depend on how they spin it and how the people accept it.

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Forget immigration. The problem is low birth rates. Maybe the goverment can encourage younger people to have families once again.

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Exactly what I said over and over again. Japan needn't be worried about shortage of labor there are plenty of immagrants willing to fill the gaps...muhahaha

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Just a Quick Point - Look at the amount of money spent every year in this country pandering to the old folks (political interest group). Where I live, there have been recent developments such as installing a gate ball ground at a local park (taking away the kids swings), and establishing yet another community center (which is used by the old folks as a meeting place). On the other hand, young mothers with baby strollers still have to struggle up and down the stairs at the local railway station, etc. There is also little support for post-birth depression, etc. To put it bluntly, if Japan wants to recover its birth rates (and thus ensure future tax income to the national treasury), it needs to take a good hard look at itself vis-a-vis becoming a country more conducive to having children (and supporting mothers).

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Gosh - the birthrate here is dropping ? I wonder why anyone wouldn't want to have babies/children in this baby friendly society, is it because of the tiny little houses or apartments ? (That cost ridiculous prices) is it because of the lack of parks and areas for children to play in ? Is it because of the lack of government support for families, and single mothers ? Maybe it is because of the total lack of compassion the general company has for workers with children to get home to, It really is hard to figure out why the birthrate is dropping isn't it ?

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I agree with timorborder, mike46 and others. But that will require drastic measures i.e. thinking and spending money. Well, politicans are very wise people so they will try save money for their own good and at the same time hire Nikkei Jin (from Brazil, Dominican Republic, Philippines etc...) Problme solved, smile (cosmetic) !

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how about educating the general public on the problem and they Japanese should try to get along with foreigners more. Instead of demanding that foreigners give up 100% of their customs, cultures, language. How about accepting that people are different and learning to love the differences. Instead of complaining about how different all of us are. My friends think I am crazy for living in Japan for so long. They always say "why". I like that people leave me alone. I also like the fact that my friends "have accepted me for me" I am not Japanese at all. Most say I am their "American" friend. When I go to the stores I expect answers. I expect the same thing. If they don't like it, who cares I'm the customer. My friends are mostly the same way. the weak Japanese/Foreigner idea is gone. It's 2008 people. Not 1808.

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edit: (friends in America think i'm crazy)

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This is just a threat. The Japanese people get it: "Have more kids or else we flood you with immigrants." - you're going to see more kids soon, because the average person doesn't want to see immigrants.

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It's funny to see that even governments try to go into dead-end solutions all the time instead of doing the right thing ... fix the problems that lead to low birth rates, the work stress, the high expenses of raising children etc. Opening mass immigration instead leads to hundreds of new problems. It doesn't need a genius to see that.

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If you look at all the people in Japan doing absolutely pointless jobs, e.g. showing you where the ATMs are in the bank, waving on traffic at roadworks (no one's ever heard of temporary traffic lights, it seems) or standing around in crappy little shops identical to all the others ones on the block, it's fairly obvious that Japan needs to use its existing workforce more efficiently before worrying about getting more immigrants.

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Noborito: Instead of demanding that foreigners give up 100% of their customs, cultures, language. How about accepting that people are different and learning to love the differences"

I have a problem with that. If you look at the states at the moment, you will find a lot of double standards and that is causing a lot of problems. If you noticed immigration before the PC crowd took control, things went smoother. I don't believe in making the host follow your rules/ways but vice versa. Of course there can be trade offs, but I think you are tilting to forcing it and that is not good. This includes culture, religion, and even language. What do you want, all Japanese to build a church in every neighborhood, stop performing certain medical procedures, instead of bowing shaking hands, and completely understand other languages?

This is a major problem in the US at the moment. Personally, if I was entrenched in my culture, traditions and language, I wouldn't go to a country that doesn't support them. Instead, I consider myself a guest in Japan. Even my mother and her family considered themselves guest until they changed their nationalities and were able to speak English..

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lets see: american or european skilled worker, coming to asia for work...does he pick tokyo, or does he pick singapore or hong kong, both with better work/business/tax/living conditions ? the choice is simple, and tokyo loses

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After 11 years in Japan, I had not realised that the holiday on the 5th May is similar to 'April Fools Day'. Surely the report that Japan’s ruling party is considering plans to encourage foreign workers to stay in the country long-term, must have been written in jest.

Given the government's recent moves to persuade immigrants and visitors not to come to Japan in the first place, it surely cannot be considering that foreign nationals would want to stay in a Japan, where they are not welcome. The new port-of-entry procedures by the Department of Immigration are at least an infringement on civil rights. Not to mention the move towards a Japanese proficiency test before being able to apply for permanent residence.

As Boys' Day, 5th May, must now be the equivalent of April Fool's Day, what is the next joke that can be thrown at your readers?

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TKinJapan - I agree wth you.

I think it is humourous how the Japanese Media and many in the government state rather clearly how they want to preserve Japanese Culture and Homogeny, yet, then turn around and declare thatt hey want to open the borders to workers, seeing how manual labour jobs are losing Japanese Nationals, thanks to the falling birth rate (and I really wonder if the birth rate is really falling: maybe it is just because its Spring, but every time I turn my head, it seems half of the Japanese women I see are pregnant). It is further telling how they demand a foto and fingerprint from foreigners who enter Japan, despite having a legal and up-to-date visa to stay long-term. My wife and I both have 3-year visas, yet, we were required to submit a fingerprint and stand for a foto at immigration.

I'd also venture to state that I believe that this has come about due to people being rather selfish, not wanting the "burden" of a child because of any myriad of reasons (yet willign to hop into bed with the next cute thing that happens to walk by....go figure), but that might be construed as off-topic....

Its all quite interesting to say the least.

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Just make the Love Hotels cheaper. 'Cause God knows that the Japanese can't have sex in their own damned beds.

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sometimes I really doubt Japanese really think about "efficient immigration". what I mean by that is, in the States for example, if you are a motivated PhD (or other high skills), you are more than welcomed. unfortunately, this is not true in Japan (yet, I like to believe). For example, my case. I've been living for 10 years in Japan as a student, went all the grades up and next year I'll get my PhD. I did all the schooling in Japanese, as a Japanese student, at their top uni. Of course, I speak fluent Japanese, and I'm married with a Japanese person. So I asked those people at the immigration bureau if I can get PR after I finish he PhD next year. You know the answer: "no way". So I would like to ask the Japanese government: after supporting me 10 (actually 11 next year) years with tuition, allowance, recently salary and making me a highly specialized guy with a solid Japanese background, isn't your interest to keep me here and take back that investment? Is it better for you if I feel insulted about your "gaijin" stance and I offer my services to US or Europe, where I already have good offers?

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skipthesong: I'm not a guest. I work. I pay taxes. Even in America people who pay taxes have some rights. Including voting. (except for President) When American's see each other, they see Americans. It's impossible to know who is American and who isn't because American=white, black, yellow, green, blue...

I am saying accept foreigners and their cultures. Not change to their culture.

Do I expect Japanese to change their cutlure, no, but don't expect everyone to change themselves.

Please remember, "People choose where to live."

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Wow! timeon. With all the money Japan spent on you, I'd say Japan has paid its dues to you. Now you expect a PR (permanent resident) visa. Shouldn't you have to pay some dues, too? Just curious.

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I agree, immigrants should not be forced to be Japanese, Japan needs to accept that other people do things differently.

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brotokyo, exactly what I'm saying: I wanna pay them back. If they offer me a chance, that is. They always complain the research in Japan is not "international" enough, and how to attract more foreigners. And they wonder why the foreigners don't come (except Asians, that is).

(btw, with all the graduate work and results I got, I do think I paid them back. for the last two years I'm also paying taxes as well. but that's another story)

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All the japanese people I ever talk to say that basically 3 things stop them having kids/more kids. Main one is the slave hours expected of Taro the salaryman. The salary man has to give up his life to the company and accept that he has no personal life whatsoever until retirement or ristora, whichever comes sooner. Will this, can this ever change?? The answer is a resounding NO. The slave mentality is too ingrained and bosses will never give up their slave army which provides so much free work. Secondly, is the extremely poor housing situation. Tiny cramped, expensive appartments where there's not enough room to swing a cat, let alone a baby. Again, this situation will never change. Goverments prefer to spend money on roads and bridges to nowhere, which line their fat pockets, rather than attempt to update the housing stock. Thirdly, the obvious lack of financial assistance and child care centers etc. After 27 years of a falling birth rate, the government has had enough time to do something about it if they had any desire to.

Basically japan's situation is truely hopeless. They will try to encourage immigration as a last resort, but who would want to come?? Not skilled workers, that's for sure. As someone mentioned, rubbish 1 year contracts don't exactly entice do they?? Not to mention the"fingerprinting" welcome at airports and inability to find anywhere to live. Japan will be flooded with low skill/low wage workers with all it's implication for crime and social unrest. Too bad, too late now, They brought it upon themselves.

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Many good points are being brought up. I would surmise that Japan could do a lot for itself if it studies the world and see how other countries have tackled the immigration and worker shortage. I hope that they don't just open the flood gates like the US, and many European countries but try to put some measures into place.

Also, like many of the posters have commented, Japan should look deeply at their own society. Falling birthrates are usually caused by social factors (since I am assuming that the infant mortality rate here in Japan is not like that of third world nations with deaths from diseases, except for the occasional delusional mother). Japan needs to do more to make their society a place where you would want to raise a family (cut down the absurd housing costs/ educational costs/and some of the other issues that have been brought up) and make Japan a better place to raise the next generation.

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Unfortunately I think the birthrate is only going to fall further. Taxes are going to keep on rising to fund the pension and health costs of the elderly, any benefits are going to be cut back, food and gas prices are rising - meaning the average junior salaryman is going to have even less of his already meagre salary left to raise a kid on...

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HA! And this in the wake of the government stating that all foreigners must speak proficient Japanese if they want to stay!

Japan, like every other democratic country, is going down the tubes very quickly. But hey, that's what happens when the people allow their country to be continually abused by corrupt government ministers, force-fed how to live and the lifestyles they should have by the TV garbage that is shown on TV, as well as having a culture that doesn't discipline kids enough!

Sort that out and perhaps then you'll start to see a culture that's not afraid to show some true feelings to each other, can then procreate and perhaps work together without any false misgivings.

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Dimewood:

Just make the Love Hotels cheaper. 'Cause God knows that the Japanese can't have sex in their own damned beds.

Couldn't have said it better!

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skipthesong:

If you look at the states at the moment

Well we're NOT looking at the States, we're looking at Japan. You have some good points, but please, don't be one of those that always tries to compare Japan to the US! Japan is NOT and never will be, the US! There's NOTHING to compare!

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One other point: Is the declining population really a bad thing for Japan? I don't think so. There's hardly a street in the country where you don't see a car every 15 seconds! There are way too many cars on the roads of this little island and given that it's only 25% bigger than the UK (although it takes forever to drive anywhere here in Japan, unlike the UK - not including the M6 of course) the fact there are still some 125 million people here, is testimony to the fact that greater birth control needs to be instilled. That itself can start in the classroom, teaching the youth the importance of self control, using condoms and the responsibility of pregnancy and child rearing! The old generations are dying off quickly - and that's not a bad thing for Japan, too many of the old farts are holding onto a past life and bringing the country down with them by doing so! The only real problem is, the younger generation are numbed by the talentless 'talento' on TV and believe themselves to be Buddha's gift to the earth and the rest of the Earth's populus! Education is in dire need of replacing with modern standards and not those dished out by the idiots in power at the Ministry of Education. Patriotism is something you should have the right to choose to follow, not force-fed to you.

Japan is changing, and only the money makers and government give a crap, because I sure as hell see a better Japan coming!

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how 'bout this: since japan is an island, there's already a natural barrier to mass immigration, unlike, say, the US where floods of mexicans can basically walk across the border; its not as if people can swim to get in...so since it's in fact easier to keep undesirables out, and the japanese have pretty much succeeded in keeping everyone out, doesn't that mean they don't really want any of us in ? does anyone think that if the japanese could get our money/knowledge/expertise without getting US they wouldn't make that trade ? and by 'japanese' i don't mean the average guy on the street, i mean the loser-old farts who've always run japan for their own benefit

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timeon, You say, "I wanna pay them back" in one breath and then conclude in another breath, "with all the graduate work...I do think I paid them back." You admitted in your first post:

"after supporting me 10 (actually 11 next year) years with tuition, allowance, 'recently salary' and making me a highly specialized guy with a solid Japanese background."

The last part, 'recently salary' in my single quote of your quote above, is curious. So, I gather that not only did the govt take care of your schooling and expenses, but you are now (or at least was) receiving a govt salary. I think I understand your idea: you believe you deserve the "fast track" to permanent residence. I am glad to learn you are putting some of that 'top school in Japan' education back into this society but I think you owe more dues if I am to gather that you are now paying taxes from a salary that actually is coming out of other tax payers pockets (I am one of those tax payers, too and yes, like you, I am one of those non-asians who has come here. Sure you are what Japan needs, but you actually closed your first argument with, how shall I word this?, a threat-- "Is it better for you if I feel insulted about your "gaijin" stance and I offer my services to US or Europe, where I already have good offers?"

Good luck with your fast track demand for permanent residence status, as I do think you will get it and deserve it, but frankly the sophomoric attitude bothers me. Reminds of the old playground days: I quit and I am taking my ball home with me. I had always hoped a grad school education might help us get over that, but maybe I expect too much.

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timeon: dude, i'd say you're even...they invested in you and your education and you paid taxes back...so if they don't feel the need to try to capitalize on your talents, you should just go elsewhere...

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I think the point regarding the PhD guy is that as taxpayers we should all be more than a little bit irritated that the government is funding someone for 10 years, making him into a valuable asset, and then willing to risk letting him go somewhere else. If 10 years, Japanese fluency, a PhD and a Japanese spouse isn't enough to qualify for permanent residence then what is? Makes very little sense either from an economic or common sense perspective.

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I am also a PhD student on my second year. To put it bluntly, Japan selected me from the top students of my country, brought me here, taught me Japanese and has sent me to fine Japanese universities will all costs covered (regardless the fact that the scholarship grants shrink every year, I am not starved yet). I don't have money for luxuries, but I came here to study, not to enjoy the sights.

However, I am a woman. As such, I don't see how I would stay in Japan. Academically speaking, the environment has its rough spots but being a foreigner has actually helped me out. I am not expected to be a submissive wallflower, yet to my female colleagues it's different in range of hues. Professional women have it so rough here, why would I want to fight the Japanese women's fight? Indeed, just for continuity and to strengthen my professional network, I'd like to work a year or two in Japan; but after that I would go back (to the Future) to my country. Is that egoist to the Japanese taxpayer? Perhaps it is, but from the Japanese government's perspective, it is not.

I am a valuable asset, but I think the main idea of granting these type of scholarships to talented citizens of other nations is, to enlarge Japan's global reach. I am supposed to go back to my country and keep professional ties with Japan - that is all. I am not expected to stay. It's a good deal for me. The system is designed to eject us from Japan as soon as we have our diplomas, under threat of deportation if regardless of visa extensions we are found in Japan three months from the day of the graduation ceremony. Doesn't that make you feel appreciated? DEPORTATION. There's a copy of that law pasted on the wall of the Foreign Students Center in my university.

Brotokyo's view is similar to that of many young Japanese who feel we elite students funded by Japan are getting life for free; they feel we are "stealing" things they never had in the first place. I think it's very natural to feel that way, but also very naive. Funding foreign students is geopolitic business for every nation in the world. They take the best from a country, polish an outer layer and send them back to said country as a representative of the competitiveness of Japan; we are not intended to stay. However, a little more friendliness in terms of policies towards skilled foreigners graduated in Japan (and invited by Japan, even) would make the whole deal way better.

That's professionally speaking. In terms of private life, I don't find the Japanese education system from pre-scholar to high school desirable for my future children. I think, in order for anyone to study in Japan and come out with their spirit and will intact, they must be past 19 years old at least. Also, the whole "racial purity" and calling children of multi-cultural background names like "hafu" and "nikkei" is a powerful deterrent.

In the professional aspect though, I would like to work here for a year or two - no more than that. I have to get back home and work there on the things I came here to learn in order to take back to my country, and start paying Social Security (or find me a good retirement savings program)!

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Just make the Love Hotels cheaper. 'Cause God knows that the Japanese can't have sex in their own damned beds.

Hahaha, even on TV there are programs in which "tarentos" arrange living place. Usually "papa" has own room and bed and "mama" has own.

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Government leaders in Japan, which largely thinks of itself as ethnically homogeneous, have rejected the idea of allowing mass-scale immigration. Some politicians have argued an influx of immigrants would lead to lower wages for Japanese workers and a higher crime rate.

Here we are. More crime? Huh! These politicians should read more newspapers and watch TV. Who is nr.1 criminal in Japan? Answer yourself, otherwise JT as usually remove me for telling truth. It`s called censorship.

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Azrael, Well spoken. If it seems my view came across as one of those young-thinking Japanese who feels ... "elite students are getting life for free", I apologize, for that was not my intention. My remark was addressed specifically to timeon, who seems to be demanding an automatic permanent resident visa because of his educational accomplishments here. I didn't and don't disagree that he deserves it, but I don't believe he deserves it any faster than say a 2nd generation Japanese, say, from S America who may have also married a Japanese national, has children and has been working in a sweat shop here for 10 years (or more) and paid taxes on said 10-year income. If timeon chooses to move on because as he put this in quotes, "the 'gaijin' stance," then indeed, Japan has failed, not because they can't keep him, but rather because he will leave with a bitter taste in his mouth. How sad for Japan that his take is that he deserves a perm res visa coz he made good grad school grades. He still hasn't responded to my question about his so-called 2 years of taxes paid--I asked him if his salary was also coming from the govt, hense tax money being refunneled. Anyway, your point about being sent back home after your study to keep ties to Japan strong is a point well taken. The vast majority of Japanese who do grad work abroad return to Japan and maintain their ties where they did grad work. I certainly hope you can find a nice one or two-year stint before going back home to begin your Soc Sec (FICA) or retirement savings program. Good luck.

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noborito: skipthesong: I'm not a guest. I work. I pay taxes. Even in America people who pay taxes have some rights." Ok, here I agree such as jobs as I was told by a police officer that half Kids can not be police officers and I have heard that Zainichi Koreans can't even become doctors. However, "Including voting", that my friend can pose political suicide. I am all for someone who has taken Japanese nationality to run, such as Bianchi, but to run as a resident, which you can do in the states - NO! "When American's see each other, they see Americans." Again, I don't know where you are from, but if you get over to NYC you can actually lose your job if you forget someone's ethnicity/creed.

It's impossible to know who is American and who isn't because American=white, black, yellow, green, blue..." I want to believe that, but I don't as shown in recent years (happy holidays vice merry Christmas, American holidays wiped over for other cultures; even in schools) and I do believe Japan sees the same as I do.

I am saying accept foreigners and their cultures " So, they shouldn't have a concern especially if their culture clashes with a culture in question?

Do I expect Japanese to change their cutlure, no, but don't expect everyone to change themselves." Look at your last line or am I getting you wrong? If you feel your culture is so important and it is not supported by the country you want to go to then what?

Please remember, "People choose where to live."

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the fact that timeon has been here for 10 years and married to a Japanese (doesn't say for how long) and speaks perfect Japanese I would have thought he would have been granted PR. Having said that he can stay care of his spouse visa and from what I can work out PR gets you very little these days so I have not bothered applying.

It would serve the Japanese government right if he went home and took his Japanese wife with him and had lot 3-4 children and refused to register them as Japanese...

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I think many young Japanese people want kids but the grim realities of cost, accommodation, dad's working hours, etc put them off.

If the Japanese government were serious about solving this problem they have to flash the cash. They could try these:

give a cash bonus of 1 million yen for the first child born, 2 million for the second, 3 million for the third, etc. A couple have three kids and they can buy a nice car, or put a down payment on a mansion or whatever. cover all medical expenses for kids until they reach 18 (and that means ALL!) pledge to cover half of school and university tuition costs for the 2nd child and all of the costs for the 3rd child and over. provide a housing subsidy based on number of kids, to allow a big family to live in larger accommodation. cover other costs and provide benefits and tax breaks based on number of kids.

In addition they should clamp down on service-zangyou and have a system backed by law in which a dad with kids gets to go home an hour earlier 3 days a week.

But none of this will ever happen so Japan is doomed.

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Azrael, I think I know what program you are in. But this part: "The system is designed to eject us from Japan as soon as we have our diplomas, under threat of deportation if regardless of visa extensions we are found in Japan three months from the day of the graduation ceremony. Doesn't that make you feel appreciated? DEPORTATION."

... I have never heard of. If you are here on a student visa and are not a student, then yes, you should be deported. But if after your graduation you get a different visa...

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I would like the Japanese government to work on making employment, and the workplace, fair for Japanese citizens before they even attempt to make it open and fair for foreign workers.

It goes back to what a number of you mentioned: the trouble with mass immigration. But also, there are too many loopholes in the Japanese law that make the current Japanese workplace unfair for women and minorities. I know numerous foreigners - and Japanese who simply LOOK foreign, but are in fact of Japanese blood, grew up in Japan, fluent, etc - who have been told at job fairs that Company XYZ thinks 'they might have problems fitting in/ working at that level'.

The lack of such business ethics, I think, will discourage skilled foreign workers from coming to Japan for work, even if they're not turned off by the Japanese mentality regarding jobs as, well, life. I'd say that this attitude is very different one than that held by workers in other first-world countries, where people work to live, not live to work. So if there are less skilled foreign workers interested in the jobs, who will come to Japan?

In my opinion, the people who will be willing to accept unfair workplace practices will most likely be less-skilled, less-educated people with less opportunities. I point to America as a main example - the illegal immigrants who go over the "swiss cheese border" are willing to accept wages below minimum wage because they have less opportunity, etc. But we see that in U.S. states near the U.S. Mexico border have a higher amount of crime, which can be traced to illegal immigration (http://dallasfedbackup.org/research/papers/2003/wp0303.pdf).

Looking at the existing xenophobic attitude of Japanese - which has been steadily improving, but definitely still exists - I would expect that, if this policy is to be enacted, soon after the rate of foreign crime WILL increase, and Japan will become even less foreign friendly than they are currently. The government will then, I predict, overreact and make it harder for the 'law-abiding and economically contributing' foreigners to stay in Japan at all (irrelevant of when they came in the first place).

I realize that my assessment is rather hyperbolic, but I feel there's truth in it all the same.

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imacat that's far too emminently sensible an idea, thus can never happen.

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too many posts, so I would detail my stance once again: I don't necessarily need PR, and of course I can get visa either as a scholar or as a spouse. It is just the difference of feeling "welcomed", since this is my home after 10 years. My point was that the government is not trying to appeal to qualified people to stay, even after investing a lot in them. My last 5 years working 9-23 including Saturdays kinda paid them back I would say, and the salary comes after competing with Japanese graduate students for a position that about 10% get. So I am confident that I deserved the privileges the Japanese government granted me, and I'm very grateful for their support. And as much I want to stay in Japan and pursue my academic career, if I will have a better offer, of course I will go. Even if they want to increase immigration, with the actual state of facts, foreign skilled professionals will not settle in Japan.

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Thanks timeon for your detail. Having lived in Japan now for 20 yrs, I can say I know quite a number of foreign skilled professionals who have truly settled here, so your last comment is off the mark. Some of them have PR but most have only 3 year visas either from work or spouse and they remain and continue the once-every-3-year trek to immigartion to renew their 3 year status. I wish you all the best with your top-notch Japanese education and feel truly sorry for you for feeling that you are "not welcome here" (your words). It seems Japan welcomed you and supported you for probably one-eighth of your life, but never mind. I am sure your Japanese education will do you well in N America or Europe and no doubt your Japanese connections will be happy they can contact you there. Not once did I question your ability or education, and even stated I think you deserve permanent residence. What I questioned was your threat in your original post: Thus, my comment "take your ball and go home" attitude. Of course it is your right to leave and make a living (perhaps better living at that) anywhere you choose. I even said earlier that it will be Japan's loss if you choose to leave. I'm just sorry you feel that you rate a PR simply because you studied in a Japanese Ivory Tower. Everyone knows you can have and maintain a three-year spouse visa and the educated folk on this board equally know that you can get a PR visa soon and probably with very little hassle. All the best to you. Now I must get back to doing my foreign taxes (my Japanese taxes were finished before the Mar 15 deadline) lest I end up in jail like Mr. Snipes. Perhaps this is the only unsettling part of life in Japan, having to do personal (Japanese income) taxes for another country.

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i m ok to do some kids but maybe japan must find a system of kindergarden cheapest and better than actually after grow up the salary. the politicians are so funny they want a lot of think but do nothing to concretize them. after maybe must we change our school system.

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To be quite honest, the way this country's right-wing politicians and mainly xenophobic population thinks about the foreign community here, who gives a damn about their problems with their free-falling population ? As the foreign community here in Japan, we should tell them to go and stick it and sort their own mess out for themselves, instead of using us just to try and boost their poor population figures.

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northlondon: Couldnt have put it better myself! It always amazes me, the inconsistencies and illogicality of Nippon and the Nipponese. They generally hate gaijin, yet the truth is, they cant live without us, and they need us to keep their Ship of Wa from sinking into the Pacific Ocean. The hedonistic and selfish youth of Japan these days couldnt care less about anything other than themselves. They dont want families, they dont want commitment to anything but themselves. They mostly want to retreat into their own little worlds, and to hell with the rest of the country and the rest of the world. Yet again in this report, we read of Japanese politicians` insane views about not wanting to let in more foreigners because Japanese wages would go down and the crime rate would go up. Like, Japanese wages are among the lowest in the developed world anyway, and the Japanese never commit crimes, of course!

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Don't get me wrong. Life is generally good for me here. It is safer than back home and much much less petty crime. But the attitude towards non-Japanese, an attitude fuelled by their politicians and establishment, needs a kick up the backside. And it angers me to read that they now want the foreign community to help their pathetic population freefall. How about making childbirth free you idiots ! Seeing as childbirth should be a right for everyone here. And how about not voting for right-wing politicians such as Ishihara (Tokyo mayor) who constantly have bad things to say about the Chinese, the Koreans, the French (well, until he wanted the 2016 Olympics anyway) and you now want these 'foreigners' to help your population problem ?

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Here it is in a nutshell people.

In Yoyogi Park in central Tokyo, a park where children should be running around freely and having fun, they have designated 2 largish areas penned-off just for dogs to run around. One for big dogs and one for small dogs. And apart from the cycling course which is for kids who are big enough to cycle anyway, there is nothing similar specifically designated for kids in Yoyogi Park. Nothing. You cannot walk across Yoyogi Park with your toddler on a weekend because of all the adult ball sports flying about (ball sports are supposed to be banned by the way but nobody polices the rule), but your Y250,000 chihauhau has it's own playground.

And they wonder why their population is not having children anymore.

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If they had an area penned off for kids you'd be complaining that they were being sectioned off like dogs.

Dog areas are sectioned off so that non-dog people (and kids) can run around without being bothered by some out-of-control Irish Wolfhound, or some yappy snappy Yorkie. (Mmm.. makes an area sectioned off for kids sound like a good idea....)

The problem is not the dogs or the kids, but the so-called adults with their banned ball games, n'est pas? So why complain about the dogs?

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NorthLondon - Lay off to dogs (laughing) Speaking more seriously, I don't think this is an "A" or "B" situation. It is not a case of "kids" or "pets," both issues need to be addressed.

A couple of months ago, I suggested that young folks should lay off buying a dachshund (sausage dog) and should instead be "hiding the sausage" in a attempt to raise the human birth rate. Cleo (rightly) called me out on the argument. Now I am inclined to believe that both young families and responsible dog owners are being disadvantaged by this mentality that sees old people being pandered to for political mileage. If Japan is going to move forward as a "functional" society (I hear some of you laughing), it is going to have to find some way of increasing its birth rate if it wishes to support its aging population in the manner to which they have become accustomed. This could either be achieved domestically, or through the introduction of immigration. Without such measures, Japan's decline will be phenomenal. At the same time, Japan is also going to have to take a hard look at its love affair with domestic pets. If the "pet in every household" mentality is going to continue, then facilities for exercising these animals (in what is a rather crowded country) need to be developed. Moreover, there is going to have to be solid policy support. At the moment, breeding dogs (and I would assume cats as well) has the impression of being a "licence to print money." As such, every Tom, Dick and Taro is doing it. This has to stop.

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SKIPTHESONG. I dont know that there where PEOPLE/PERSON who think like me when it comes to the problem of this COUNTRY.

You will be BLESSED so say the lord.

Change or hold on with what you have. The hostile governce of the country has make it society what they are.

For a better and a greater tomorrow, I will advise the Government to SOCIALISE the system. So say the LORD. Thank you and remain bless in jesus name Amen

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I doubt this will happen. The writers found an article on how the Government wants to extend visas from 2 to 5 years. So?

I'm frustrated with how people do not realize how illogical mass immigration is, it never works. Where has it worked without racial conflict and became as peaceful as Japan without the media and government forcing "tolerance" and "political correctness" on its people to silence natural human tendencies? Have you noticed in America how its okay to be proud to be black and Hispanic, but racist to be proud to be white? Thats not equality so dont tell us it works in America. Japan has a falling birthrate, if immigrants are allowed in will the birthrate rise among natives? No. The birthrate will stay low and foreigners will take up more and more of the population...it makes sense right? If you support multiculturalism so much explain the rising far right in Europe, terrorist attacks and riots in France. Unbelievable. Its a nice idea, but homogeneity works best unquestionably. Japan can find other safer means while robotics technology advances. Even if Japan allows foreigners in, robots will replace them later on anyway, leading to unemployment.

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Agree 110% with Badtz. A quick glance at the immagration problems of Europe, Australia and America should disuade Japan from letting in more foreigners. Japan and the Western democracies need to make life more affordable for their own native-born people, especially the working-class and maybe then they will be encouraged to have more children.

Minoritiy immigrants, on the other hand, need no such encouragement because the same liberal idiots who created the immigration policies are also subsidizing their increased birthrates and pandering to these 'poor immigrants' and their needs while disregarding those of the people whom they are supposed to represent. Get out and vote people!

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cleo,

You clearly do not have children or have never had any emotional contact with children of your own. Your response, if that is what you call it, is pretty pathetic and shallow and you contradict yourself at least once in your post.

I was stating, very obviously, how ridiculous it is for the local council to give concerns to the dog owners in Yoyogi Park but not provide enough safe space and play areas for toddlers and children.

But there again someone who seems to have no close attachment to children would not understand people like myself.

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northlondon -

And you clearly do not read JT very much, or else you would know that I do have 2 very wonderful children to whom I am devoted and on the subject of which I will happily freeze the ears off any captive audience. I also have two very wonderful dogs that also come with an ear-freezing function.

I understand exactly what you were trying to say. I merely pointed out that providing a closed-in space where dogs can run around caters not only to the concerns of dog owners but also to the concerns of parents and non-dog people who want to use the park without having to worry about dogs large and small charging about all over the place. I'd rather have the dogs confined and the kids running free than vice versa. I fail to see how confining dogs to a limited area of a spacious park somehow stops kids playing or encourages people not to have kids. I would think people would be more willing to bring their kids to the park knowing that they aren't going to be bowled over by a boisterous friendly Lab or snapped at by a highly-strung Pom.

With the dogs safely in their confined area, the problem and the threat to children is, as you note, irresponsible adults who cannot or will not stick to the rules.

Yoyogi Park is big enough for dogs, kids and people who want to play with balls, cycle, jog or whatever. Sectioning off bits of it so that one group does not spoil the fun of other groups seems to me, as both a parent and a dog-owner, a very sensible thing to do.

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How did we get from depopulation to dog runs? Never mind.

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Lots of good discussion above.

Some points

Timeon, take a job outside Jpn & come back later if you want then you can skip all the crap the new faces have starting each april! especially a lousy salary!

Jpn`s people & its lousy govt will remain on its road to ruin, nothing will change

As for kids, see above thats why Jpn wont ever be kid/family friendly

Immigration will only attact low wage/skills people 99% of the time, people with skills have better options than Japan thats why there arent many of us here, never will be.

If anyone outside Jpn is thinking of moving here while they are young, I say do it, BUT make sure you plan to leave after 2yrs max otherwise it will be harder on you when you rtn home.

I love Jpn & have made myself a great job & live in a nice house with a huge yard, thankfully no kids, I dont think I cud forgive myself if I raised kids here. I have it pretty good here but most foreigners & Japanese for that matter have pretty poor quality of life here.

If I knew back in 1991 what I know now I wud have been back home before 1995 thats for damn sure.

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sounds right to me, attracting foreign skilled workers is a good thing. The key here is skilled and the visas should continue to be based on employement. The last thing Japan needs is a huge immigrant unemployed underclass like France has gotten themselves into. As for salries here, they are low but so are starting salaries in the states. Luckily for me I have more than one income stream and I'm not working all that hard. For us our decision to return to Japan was for family and we had the good fortune of making money on our home in the states when we sold. If I had been single and job hunting as others have said I probably wouldn't have come to Japan unless it was a phenomenal opportunity. I was in sales in the states so to get me here for job alone it would have had to be VP of sales Asia Pacific region or some such, otherwise it wouldn't have made economic sense.

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I just hope they dont follow Europe´s path and allow massive immigration from muslim countries. That would be disastrous mistake. If they are thinking about Chinese immigrants, I dont see a problem. I hope the Japanese politicians do their homework before making decisions here...

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Significant numbers of immigrants will never be allowed and this is for one simple reason. Much of Japanese identity is based on exclusivity. For Japanese to change the way they perceive themselves in a way that would allow acceptance of different cultures in Japan is impossible. Also, significant numbers might not want to come. To allow oneself to be controlled and manipulated the way Japanese people are would be unacceptable to many other cultures.

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I just don't get it. Why the JP government and mainstream media excessively report this issue as if their country is in a crisis? I know Japan is facing an age of elderly crisis syndrome, but it still has a large population of +150 million people. Japan is the second largest developed country in economic and technology, and the youth-adult generations(18-34 & 35-49) represent a large number of active labor force. If the JP government is thinking of accepting the immigrants from other Asian countries just for the maintenance of active labor, they'd better think about it twice. Is future Japan ready to accept cultural diversity and tolerate the uniqueness of each culture?

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amerijap, I dont understand why you think Japan is not ready to accept cultural diversity and uniqueness? That is simply not true. In fact, I am always amazed at the diversity of foriegners that are in Japan.

In one way I agree though is that, it is not at a critical stage. It will be though if, it continues with the same lifestyles that is lending itself to drops in birthrate. Ultimately though, and especially in the case of birth-cause how is the govt supposed to make ya, "make-out", like get every womans cycles recorded and order "sex days"? -It comes down to the Peoples' Choice.

Immigration should not necessarily be limited to skilled, in fact there is a lot of foriegn business going on at the not so high levels of money companies-corporate. Introducing skilled, specifically, will only cut out the peoples' who would like to come and stay and develope with Japan; and in effect have good relations with Japan and Japanese people. It is when the limitation of Who comes that you start to divide the culture, and uniqueness.

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Oops, my bad. Yeah, illsayit, you're right. Japan is already culturally diversified, having over a million of foreigners. Well, my concern is how much they will accept immigrants in the future, and how does that create the Japanese public perception toward 'incoming' citizens. In the U.S., I often watch the news about the INS crackdown on illegal immigration as well as Mexicans' protests against the government in May. I don't believe Japan will see a flood of immigrants from the neighbors like Mexicans crossing the border to get into the US soil. But how are they(especially those living in poverty: folks coming from south-east Asia, Middle-east, Africa, Eastern Europe, or South America) gonna be treated by the JP government, mainstream media, and local people? It is these people who are vulnerable to negative perceptions that are likely to be posed by these agents.

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The LDP's idea is understandable, but like it's being said, it has been tried before. The results have not alway been stellar. It is one thing to provide human beings equal protection and equal opportunities. That balancing such a policy out without falling for the trap of the euphemistically called 'positive discrimination' is more difficult than it sounds has been shown enough by several people reacting to this topic already. At best, it's an 'advanced level' balancing act. However, I get the impression that the LDP seeks a solution to an economic problem that other countries have faced before, that because of labor shortage some work isn't done. Mostly, this is the work that is less than appealing, and where labor exploitation is normally at it's highest. As enough people have said here, the experiences of other countries with bringing in people instead of doing their own dirty work have been less than happy. In too many cases, such a policy has created lasting problems. This is intended as just a little background which may come in handy.

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