Immigration Policy in Japan in the 21st Century
Course Title: International Migration
Course Code: BE 22 421
Name: Onyejelem Prince Daniel O.
STUDENT ID: 201118001
School of Social and International Studies, G30 program
The rapid increase in the number of immigrants to Japan during the Heisei era has raised anxieties among Japanese about the future of their country, national identity, and how to manage the influx. There is a muted public discourse about this politically sensitive subject against the backdrop that it has been examined as a rapidly aging society and a declining workforce tasked with supporting soaring outlays for retires’ pensions and medical care. This problem is looming as the workforce is projected to decline from about 65 million in 2010 to 55 million in 2030. The question of how widely Japan should open its domestic labor market to foreign workers, former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi stated in 2005, "If the foreign labor exceeds a certain level, it is bound to cause a clash. It is necessary to consider measures to prevent it and then admit foreign workers as necessary. Just because there is a labor shortage does not mean we should readily allow foreign workers to come in." (Chikako 2006) Immigration to Japan: Migration is not a new phenomenon. When people believe they can receive higher incomes, better education, better quality of life for themselves and their families, or a leisurely retirement, etc. they may choose to move to another country in pursuit of the happiness they imagine. Some have migrated because they had no choice, displaced by natural and man-made disasters, war, or for their beliefs, and others forced through human trafficking. According to Mr. Taro Kono, a member of Japan’s House of Representatives, “Illegal workers have violated Japan’s immigration law. The government would never pardon their crime by granting them amnesty. If they want to work in Japan, they should voluntarily leave the country and re-enter with proper visas. Japan is not a country of immigration and does not want to attract immigrants by granting amnesty to illegal workers”. The number of undocumented transnational migrant workers in Japan was about 170,000 as at January 2007 (Japanese Bureau of Immigration Control 2007a). Migration Phenomenon: There are pragmatic reasons for accommodating more migrants on more favorable terms, but run alongside deep-seated concerns about the implications of a larger non-Japanese population. As in other countries grappling with immigration, xenophobia and prejudice are shaping the debate and complicating policy deliberations. In the early twenty-first century, immigrants in Japan, as elsewhere, are feeling less welcomed even as their presence has become more indispensable. It is because immigration is such a controversial issue Furthermore, some social and economic factors are pushing Japan toward a more open immigration policy, while other factors, such as mounting concerns about public security and growing apprehensions about international terrorism, are prompting Japan to adopt stricter immigration controls. Japan is not a country of immigration.” This statement is a cliché that emerged during the late 1980s when an influx of immigrant workers arrived, mostly from East, Southeast, and South Asia. Regardless of their political views, politicians, policy makers, and even academics claim that Japan is a country for Japanese. Foreigners are welcome to stay in the country but only temporarily. It is perhaps fair to state that Japan was not founded by immigrant settlers. Unlike such countries of immigration as the United States of America, Canada, Australia, and Brazil, throughout its history, Japan has grown and developed mostly by its indigenous people calling themselves Japanese. Since the 1980s, however, Japan, like many other industrialized countries, has received an influx of immigrant workers from less developed countries. By 2006,...
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