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Many Japanese outside major urban areas do not engage with foreigners: survey

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Professor Yuko Tsukasaki, who led the research, said as Japan will increasingly rely on foreigners for labor, it must make itself a place where they can live comfortably and build long careers.

"We must listen properly to foreign residents and make steady efforts to bring about a harmonious society," Tsukasaki said.

These anodyne statements come out of the LDP playbook and are not very organic.

The exploitative trainee programs or other work "foreigners" are funneled into with rock-bottom non-living wages is not conducive to a harmonious society.

9 ( +27 / -18 )

Asked whether they want a higher percentage of foreigners in their community, 54.5 percent said they do not, with many citing concerns about increased friction or deterioration of the social order.

Very surprising.

-6 ( +10 / -16 )

in 59 cities, towns and villages across Japan where foreigners account for 5 percent or more of the population.

Five percent or more is actually rather high. In 2022, residents of foreign nationality accounted for less than 3% of the population nationally, which would include Tokyo and “Japan's 20 designated major cities.”

16 ( +17 / -1 )

 It did not include 23 wards in central Tokyo nor Japan's 20 designated major cities.

Of the 1,194 who gave valid responses, 83.8 percent said they do not have regular exchanges with the foreigners who live alongside them.

In rural area many foreigners are cheap labor that work on factories and field, they go straight to their dormitory after long day work.

While in big cities, you have dating apps, eikawa, or even kombini that employed foreigners. Why rural area people need to interact with foreigners? Maybe when they older and need elderly care, they'll interact with Philippines nurse on daily base.

-16 ( +15 / -31 )

As someone who lives in the Japanese countryside, I can say that most Japanese here do not engage much with other Japanese.

17 ( +42 / -25 )

As someone who lives in the Japanese countryside, I can say that most Japanese here do not engage much with other Japanese.

Exactly, no block parties going on where I live. People go to work in the morning and come back at night for dinner without seeing another neighbor.

18 ( +27 / -9 )

As someone who lives in the Japanese countryside, I can say that most Japanese here do not engage much with other Japanese.

There is no way you can live in a town with a small population without seeing the same people every day and engaging with them.

15 ( +31 / -16 )

I live in the seaside and enjoy good relationships with my neighbors and the local people. We stop on the street and talk. I get many gifts of vegetables and fruits.

9 ( +18 / -9 )

We must listen properly to foreign residents and make steady efforts to bring about a harmonious society.

I think you'll find the opposite will happen with more diversity, unfortunately. Case in point: I was told to shut up (in a very loud and rude voice) when having a conversation in a coffee shop with a Japanese person the other week. When I asked why I had to be quiet, the guy replied that this is Japan and I should do as the Japanese do.

-3 ( +12 / -15 )

Headline of the year!!!

-5 ( +6 / -11 )

Elvis is hereToday 08:31 am JST

That is probably the main problem. Language barriers. It can seem presumptuous to speak in your native language in a foreign country.

That's not a language barrier. That's outright racisim.

When I'm in countries where English is the main language, and I hear two people speaking in another language, my reaction is "Oh cool, what language is that ..." and not "HOW DARE THEY."

It's ridiculous to ignore or spurn your neighbors just because they're from another country. I live in UR housing and there are a lot of people from various countries and I've made some good friends among them, including Indians and Vietnamese. I also regularly say hello to my Japanese neighbors and chat in the elevator or in the park. I love those little interactions.

People who can't see that embracing other cultures is actually the best way to make peace in the world are the ones who are causing the problems with the world.

8 ( +26 / -18 )

Asked whether they want a higher percentage of foreigners in their community, 54.5 percent said they do not,

They would rather let their country slip into irrelevancy. It's already happening with Germany overtaking to be 3rd largest economy.

-13 ( +14 / -27 )

That's not a language barrier. That's outright racisim.

What is not a language barrier?

When I'm in countries where English is the main language, and I hear two people speaking in another language, my reaction is "Oh cool, what language is that ..." and not "HOW DARE THEY."

Nice. But that is not my point. Chatting to neighbours in English, when they can't speak English could lead to a divide. It might not be "outright racism". Maybe just someone caught off guard and behaving clueless because caught of guard. They could be embarrassed they could not speak to Mr Smith in English like they see on TV. I go for the jug half full side of the argument rather than half empty.

Maybe the article heading should be

"Many foreigners outside major urban areas do not engage with Japanese because they can't speak Japanese: survey"

8 ( +22 / -14 )

Japanese are a very subservient society, taught from a very young age to remain inside the box, do not make eye contact and certainly don't communicate or even be pleasant to foreigners. This behaviour is extremely prevalent outside of the big cities.

-7 ( +21 / -28 )

I wonder if they included cities with large numbers of Zainichi folks. Nobody would have any idea if they had actually engaged with one such person.

Get out of cold boring unfriendly Tokyo and go to the countryside where people are friendly and engaging.

13 ( +19 / -6 )

Upto 45.5% of respondents when asked if they want more foreigners in their communities replied either yes, don't know or don't care.

Stay positive!

8 ( +11 / -3 )

Many Japanese outside major urban areas do not engage with foreigners.

And? Why is it necessary, important or even of any interest that they do.

I do not engage with cats. Newsworthy?

-10 ( +7 / -17 )

Right… and not taking into consideration that every hotel and ryokan in rural Japan is usually 50% staffed by Filipinos and Nepalese.

-3 ( +6 / -9 )

As a foreigner I find this to be true. However, whenever I engage Japanese people there it is always a positive experience. Even with my limited language skills. A smile and a greeting helps

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Why would people in rural Japan answer that they want a higher percentage of foreign people in their community? Go to any country and ask the same question. They mostly don't actively care about it and will express mild concerns depending on how you phrase the question.

Progressives in San Francisco are constantly complaining about "transplants" ruining the city and they never get called xenophobic, but anytime Japanese people don't overwhelmingly say they want more foreigners they get called xenophobic.

14 ( +19 / -5 )

A neighbor just knocked on my door with three large daikons and a very large bunch of fresh Japanese spinach. Both are more fresh than at the store. I have a large cardboard box outside so when people call with vegetables and I'm not at home they know to leave them there.

12 ( +14 / -2 )

Asked whether they want a higher percentage of foreigners in their community, 54.5 percent said they do not...

....which is just about the same percentage of Western foreigners who don't want Western foreigners living near them in Japan.

9 ( +14 / -5 )

I live in a very small village in the UK wih a population of just under a 1000 people, but the area size of the village is quite large. But apart from my immediate neighbours I do not know any more. The diversity is very tiny too, but then, living in the country side is not suited to all.

11 ( +12 / -1 )

Both are more fresh than at the store

That's quite a generalisation.

I have a large cardboard box outside so when people call with vegetables and I'm not at home they know to leave them there.

Nice idea. Thanks for sharing.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

Elvis is here

Both are more fresh than at the store

> That's quite a generalisation.

The local daikon picked on the day is juicier than the ones from the store. Amazing difference. But I can understand since you don't have neighbors who farm. The freshly picked spinach made with sesame seeds is a treat.

I have a large cardboard box outside so when people call with vegetables and I'm not at home they know to leave them there.

> Nice idea. Thanks for sharing.

People are happy not to carry it back to their homes.

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What is the point of this survey?

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I have been visiting Japan for some time. A friend who retains his family home in Kyoto brought me there, and I continue to visit both with and without him. I try my best to get out of the major cities and touristy places. I try very hard to interact with Japanese people away from the big cities. It is difficult, but I really do cherish each and every real connection that I can make.

8 ( +10 / -2 )

I was better than conversational Japanese when I started working in Japan. Every workplace, I'd introduce myself in Japanese to the other staff members. Only a few would deign to respond to me greeting or speaking. Many of these workplaces were rural or suburban.

Furthermore, let's talk about Japanese people who further exacerbate the problem by telling foreigners to only speak English around certain people....

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That’s because there AREN’T any.

I lived out in the sticks, Yachimata Chiba and never saw ANY other foreigners aside from the two guys I worked with and ONE other guy.

He was astonished that he saw ME.

As far as “ engaging” . Whenever I spoke my pathetic attempts to speak to locals, they always spoke with me.

13 ( +15 / -2 )

Japanese are shy when in group. Not so when with friends and not when solo.

In my many shinkansen tours, only obaachan would ever dare to raise eyes with me and speak. Only one youngster once discussed with me and I shared my saucisson.

-1 ( +8 / -9 )

This article and the comments are a perfect example of what is very negative about Japanese society: a survey clearly indicates a large amount of Japanese people are unhappy or uncomfortable with foreigners in their vicinity, it is clear, then people thumbs down those who indicate this empirically driven evidence. Too many times, when I explain to a Japanese person my negative experiences such as harassment from the police or even being physically assaulted, they will deny such things ever happened. It’s this continuous blinkered existence, refusing to accept anything from the mouth of a foreigner unless positive, that I cannot stand life in Japan.

-2 ( +15 / -17 )

Most in urban areas don't either. That being said, they don't engage with Japanese as well. Urban areas are cold.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

On the countryside people are averse to ANY newcomer, foreign or Japanese. Has to do with traditional rice cultivation and that water has to be shared by the community. Any newcomer will upset the balance. Old habits even if many are not farming anymore. And... you won't get recognized until you contribute. If you want to be noticed and talked to, join the voluntary fire brigade or donate to festivals.

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girl_in_tokyoToday 08:42 am JST

Elvis is hereToday 08:31 am JST

> That is probably the main problem. Language barriers. It can seem presumptuous to speak in your native language in a foreign country.

> That's not a language barrier. That's outright racisim.

> When I'm in countries where English is the main language, and I hear two people speaking in another language, my reaction is "Oh cool, what language is that ..." and not "HOW DARE THEY."

> It's ridiculous to ignore or spurn your neighbors just because they're from another country. I live in UR housing and there are a lot of people from various countries and I've made some good friends among them, including Indians and Vietnamese. I also regularly say hello to my Japanese neighbors and chat in the elevator or in the park. I love those little interactions.

> People who can't see that embracing other cultures is actually the best way to make peace in the world are the ones who are causing the problems with the world.

Great points. I have friends and acquaintances from every continent except Antarctica and we sometimes can have up to 4 different languages going on at the same table when we're out socializing. That kind of diversity is what I really love about New York City too.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Most in urban areas don't either. That being said, they don't engage with Japanese as well. Urban areas are cold

I had different experiences of this. The first place I lived was in a nice-ish area of Tokyo with quite a few ex-pats. Many of the locals spoke good English ( I spoke little Japanese at the time ) and were used to having gaijin around.

Most friendly area I’ve ever seen in Japan - city or countryside.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

Too many times, when I explain to a Japanese person my negative experiences such as harassment from the police or even being physically assaulted, they will deny such things ever happened. It’s this continuous blinkered existence, refusing to accept anything from the mouth of a foreigner unless positive, that I cannot stand life in Japan.

This has been my experience, too, but I’ve gotten better about handling these things over the years. (I was body-slammed by an able-bodied youngish guy from behind on the subway last month. When I stared him down, he finally, reluctantly, gave me an apologetic nod.)

On the other hand, if you can speak decent Japanese, you’ll find that — whether in the city or the countryside — people will engage with you, especially if you initiate the conversation. My dear partner hates that I do this, but it almost always leads to an interesting little chat and usually some information about the local area.

8 ( +10 / -2 )

I have experience living in various places in the Kansai region and Hokuriku. I also travel frequently through chuubu region and Tohoku. My wife is from Aomori. I find the most difficult region to get along with other Japanese is the Kanto and Tohoku regions. Through my experience living on Noto Hanto in Noto cho for the past seven years and now after the earthquake I still find the Japanese more open and friendly towards me and other foreigners who are long term residents here. I actually find this region the most favoriable for foreigners in Japan. Just another reason why I really love this region even after the earthquake.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

Sadly Get use to it, it's the same anywhere not just in the country side.

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

Do some here not have any Japanese friends?

5 ( +10 / -5 )

Unless it’s a tourist area, I think we can say rural areas in any country in the world do not interact much with foreigners.

11 ( +11 / -0 )

Surely depends which ‘type’ of foreigner?! If you’ve lived in shizuoka near the large population from a certain South American country then speaking from experience I can say that you wouldn’t want any ‘foreigners’ living near you. If it’s your big standard English teacher then most people wouldn’t have any problems at all.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

I saws 2 Vietnamese who brought a slingshot each, shooting at birds on trees, twice on different days. Also saw Chinese old woman tell her husband to pee over the pillar and hurry it up. Isolated incidents ? Nope, there are signs in other parks, "do not shoot the birds", "do not pee" ... lol.

Too many foreigners here without common sense, I wouldn't want them here either. But, I guess beggars can't be chooser, Japan can only afford cheap labors, the higher educated ones go to the US or Europe.

-6 ( +5 / -11 )

Slightly odd. What do they mean by 'engage' with people? I don't engage with strangers on a day to day basis, unless they are couriers, whilst retail workers engage with anyone who shops.

I've found Japanese people to be quite shy and insecure/embarrassed at not being fluent when speaking a foreign language. And ex-pats generally avoid engaging with foreign tourists.

Mature Japanese ladies are different. They will cheerfully communicate with you as best they can quite readily.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

I saws 2 Vietnamese who brought a slingshot each, shooting at birds on trees, twice on different days.

My wife scolded some Japanese kids who were doing that at our local park. She called me when they got aggressive with her, but they ran off when I got there like the little cowards they were.

Also saw Chinese old woman tell her husband to pee over the pillar and hurry it up.

LOL. Because old Japanese men never pee outside.

6 ( +11 / -5 )

Some Japanese kid was hiding out in some bushes near my buddy's house years ago and shot me with a slingshot. I made him give it to me and take me to his nearby house.

His father was quite surprised when an American showed up at his front door with a slingshot in hand and his sulking son behind him!

4 ( +7 / -3 )

When I was working in Tokyo, I felt ignored, unless I forced an interaction. I don't think it is a rural/urban thing. It is a Japanese thing, unless the Japanese person has traveled outside E.Asia and actually met "foreigners". I did have a few people that wanted to practice their English go out of their way to converse.

Some Japanese kid was hiding out in some bushes near my buddy's house years ago and shot me with a slingshot. I made him give it to me and take me to his nearby house.

Well, that's just a boy being a boy. He was probably shocked to have hit you.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

....which is just about the same percentage of Western foreigners who don't want Western foreigners living near them in Japan.

Unless it’s a tourist area, I think we can say rural areas in any country in the world do not interact much with foreigners.

I don’t think there are any comments on this matter that hold more truth than the two above.

The very fact that the areas are “rural” screams reduced social interactions by its very definition. Combine that with a lower diversity percentage, then you wonder why? Then just throw up the xenophobic flag because that MUST be the SOLE cause of the survey results? Requesting an air drop of critical thinking please stat.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

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