quote of the day

The United States had been a failure on the immigration front.


Jiro Kawasaki, a former health minister and senior lawmaker of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, defending the government's policy of paying Latin American guest workers, who are descendants of Japanese emigrants, to return home. He says the economic slump is a good opportunity to overhaul Japan’s immigration policy as a whole. (New York Times)

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Yeah true and Japan has followed them all the way!

Way to go with the 'evil foreigner' card and the airport finger printing system.

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Japan will now become even more racist than before, thanks to stupid remarks like this one, which was belched out by a former LDP/Fascist Party Minister. This country NEEDS foreigners, both to live and work here and help the economy, and also to visit as tourists. Instead of welcoming them with open arms, the old dinosaurs who have misruled Japan for the past 60 years and who really have nothing to offer anyone, spew out the same tired old anti-foreigner venom. "Send the gaijin home" "Make the gaijin carry their identity cards or put them in prison/fine them heavily." "Fingerprint, photograph and otherwise humiliate the gaijin when they arrive on the sacred shores of Nippon." "Bar the gaijin from Tsukiji Fish Market." "Harass the gaijin as they walk on our holy streets." In this way, we will have a better "immigration policy" by making them feel so inwelcome and so uncomfortable they wonbt want to stay a minute longer, then we will have this wonderful. perfect place all to ourselves, just like the good old Tokugawa period, when we didnt have a gaijin about the place. Yup, that the message - got it.

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What is wrong with this fool for wanting to protect his Japan from citizens of foreign countries!!!!? One world, one country, come on in everyone!

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To be fair, many of the current policies on foreigners look rather familiar. It has been accepted practice all over the world, from one period to another, to take it out on the outsider, exploiting them as cheap labor when needed and then discarding them as trash if you no longer have need of them, or restricting their movements, or blaming them for everything that´s wrong, and so on and so forth and such like. Equally true this has been just plain wrong everywhere, and fortunately there are some places in the world where at least a little restraint is shown at the moment. But, far from Japan being uniquely bad in this, I´d say that the current turn tears a hole in the Nihonjinron theory of Japanese uniqueness. Perhaps Japanese are all too human, with the same capacity for human virtues, and vices, as everyone else... From what I see, exposure to other ideas would be a good thing to the ordinary Japanese, but - in the short term - not necessarily to the government and bureaucracy (not particularly bad either, but it would likely shift some of their powers around and away). I suppose we could lament this or take it out on the many ordinary Japanese who sigh "shikataganai". Somehow either answer doesn´t satisfy me. From what I observe, part of the answer appears to be in convincing our own governments to change policy on Japan. The western (especially European) mechanisms that are designed to be able to ´agree to disagree´, compromise and otherwise resolve conflicts or prevent them from escalating are well-intended, especially there where power is deliberately limited by law, right, responsibility and so on. In this case it does not work. The Japanese government apparently needs it that other governments vigorously defend the interest of their own people against the government of Japan, and in general apply a fair, but firm and strict hand in their mutual relations. Also, we may have to take action, where this can legally and ethically be done, ourselves. Fingerprinting has been mentioned, it is an example where I have an interest of my own, so I will use this. It´s a very bad move, not so much because of humiliation, but because from what I see the risks of misidentification (false alarms) and identity theft are overlooked. There is circumstantial evidence (based on statistical numbers) that a large percentage of the people refused access have been the victims of misidentification. There is proof that the criminal underworld has already found the economic possibilities that identity theft offers them, at the expense of innocent travellers. On top of this, if you closely examine the Japanese attitude to people trying to protect their interests, you will find quality issues, a lack of openness, transparency, and in general lack of the will to communicate on an equal footing. However, we do not have to say ´shikataganai´. If we are resourceful and willing to invest some time in helping each other, we can find ways to defend our interests and enforce improvements. The FAQ of the immigration department mentions a data protection law, the Act for the Protection of Personal Information retained by administrative institutions. In other sites, I have found reference to the same law, where it is called the Act on the Protection of Personal Information held by Independent Administrative Institutions, probably a translation issue. They do not post a link, but why not work together to retrieve and read it? if someone were to post it in the Community in Japan newsgroup, that would most definitely help me. The law may provide possibilities to give better control over personal information, with the possibility of lawsuits as a backup. If there are people who are suffering as a result of bad policy, let them come forward and tell their story. Resourceful action instead of resorting to violence could net respect and some very bad publicity. For instance, if someone who has been refused access based on misidentification were to cross the Tsushima straits in a rowing boat in protest, that would almost certainly hit the headlines. One person may have access to major European Privacy groups, with direct access to the European parliament. Another may be able to put things on the agenda of the US-based groups. A third may be able to teach how to make duplicate fingerprints for less than 2000 Yen in material and the use of a laserprinter. And so on. This is just an example, but the same holds true for ´sending them home´, ´wearing identity cards´, ´barring from the fish market´, harrassing or anything else. There´s no need for powerless anger and frustration. We can do something about it, but only if we work together. And if there is one thing the Japanese government respects, it is the power to stand up to them. And finally, I´m convinced that in the long run, this helps Japan and the Japanese people too. The EU is one of the few examples where you can see what happens if human beings try to work together instead of fighting each other. There´s a long way to go, but already signs of what good things it can do are visible.

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This ojichan knows nothing. Even in the middle of this crisis, US is a paradise close to the life foreigners lead here in Japan.

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Well, my parents always asked what I would like to be when i grow up. Now I know: I will be a condor or something like that. I will fly high and wait till this dinosaur country will die, with no professional labor force, no cheap, manual labor force, only a bunch of old people without kids or social system. And then I will feed well on the carcass..

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Another loud mouthed America bashing insecure Japanese politician ! This guy was given the platform to discuss Japanese immigration policies and instead of explaining the nations viewpoints in an adult manner he instead chose to rail on America, who buy the way has nothing to do with Japan's decisions. When will this nation grow up and address their social problems in realistic terms. The constant, "Oh yeh, but what about America" has done absolutely nothing to improve life here in this mono-culture society. If Japan wants to compare itself to America, it first must become more like America. Which means raising it's level of maturity tenfold. What a joke !

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I seem to recall that the US is largely a nation of immigrants. Funny that the people who have been there a while seem to forget that but my grandfather didn't.

Japan would probably wish all the immigrants away if they could. Japan is one of the most homogeneous countries in the world. The other amusing thing with the comment is the context that this fellow is saying that Japan will pay people who have Japanese ancestry to return. That's not exactly immigration.

In the long run it doesn't matter anyway. But the irony is priceless.

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i don't think it's any surprise that immigration has a tendency to "fail" as quoted here; there is little political incentive to do it "rightly" and tolerance is a hard lesson to learn when for the vast majority of human history people haven't often had to deal with people who don't look like them. the point is, however, that the world is not getting any bigger and it is imperative that we all get used to the idea of living close to people we don't (initially) want or understand

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Japan is as much an immigrant country as the USA.... its just most immigrants to japan came about 1500-2000 years ago.

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This business of deflecting every discussion of a particular country's actions to what is done or happening in America is getting tiresome. It's something that you see all the time not only among politicians, but also among average people of all nationalities. This sort of thinking makes it seem like there is a constant competition going on where people are sizing themselves up against the U.S. and what is happening there. The U.S. has nothing to do with Japan's immigration policies, and it has certainly not been a "failure" by any objective measure. It's still the biggest power in the world, even in hard times, and it got where it is based on the power of a country of almost nothing but immigrants.

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