Daniel Halliday
Jul 6, 2018 · Last update 5 mo. ago.

Should Japan relax its immigration laws?

With Japan facing an ageing population and a lowering birth rate that threaten to further complicate an already volatile economy, should Japan be loosening the restrictions on its strict immigration laws?
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Japan needs to boost its humanitarian efforts
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Japan is too distinctive and culturally homogenous
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Japan needs to utilise this misunderstood long term resource
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Immigration should be further utilised, but strictly controlled to protect migrants & society alike
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Japan needs to boost its humanitarian efforts

Japan has famously low asylum seeker acceptance statistics, despite being the third largest economy in the world. Accepting refugees, in times of great civil unrest in large parts of the Middle East, is the international humanitarian standard Japan should be setting for the world. As a country that has renounced war it could prove to be, not only a crucial step forward in the world refugee crisis, but a solidifying force in the perceived effectiveness of an ardent pacifist stance in the modern world.

Japan has accepted 20 asylum seekers in 2017, just 0.1% of asylum applicants were granted the right to remain in the country. Japan’s government under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been criticised for cracking down on refugees and making it a harder process to grant legal asylum status to those fleeing persecution in their home countries. The country’s immigration detention centres have also been criticised for harsh treatment of refugees being held there with multiple hunger strikes, deaths and suicides occurring in the last few decades.

Following the backtracking of Angela Merkel’s open-border migration policy after a public backlash, Japan is in a unique position to solidify its peaceful position and demonstrate to the world the effectiveness of a compassionate outlook. This could potentially benefit the country in the long run economically also, by possibly reversing ageing population, falling birthrate, and shrinking workforce demographics. But more importantly it could be a powerful message internationally if the country with the worst immigration record could reap the benefits of this often misunderstood resource.

theguardian.com/world/2018/feb/16/japan-asylum-applications-2017-accepted-20

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Daniel Halliday
Jun 10
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DH edited this paragraph
Japan has accepted 20 asylum seekers in 2017, just 0.1% of asylum applicants were granted the right to remain in the country. Japan’s government under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been criticised for cracking down on refugees and making it a harder process to grant legal asylum status to those fleeing persecution in their home countries. The country’s immigration detention centres have also been criticised for harsh treatment of refugees being held there with multiple hunger strikes, deaths and suicides occurring in the last few decades.

Japan is too distinctive and culturally homogenous

Due to hundreds of years as a closed country coupled with its geographic isolation, Japan has a unique but complex culture. It is difficult for people to become accustomed to this cultural complexity, and homogeneity further complicates the matter as culturally strict expectations exist also. Immigration is therefore a difficult issue and may cause a backlash if Japanese society was subject to different influences that they are not accustomed to. For example any inconvenience or tension caused by language, difference of work ethic, customer service standards, or temperament.

For example any inconvenience or tension caused by language, difference of work ethic, customer service standards, or temperament could cause major dissatisfaction with immigration as a whole. Surveys have shown that most Japanese people while not opposed to immigration directly are concerned about manners and differences in personal conduct of immigrants in Japan. Traditionalism remains popular in Japan with a large proportion of people concerned about keeping culture and traditions firmly in place, and as a result not having immigration at too high a level as to threaten Japanese culture or tradition.

Furthermore there seems to be a significant level of discrimination that immigrants to Japan face, according to surveys conducted on foreign residents in Japan, with large proportions being denied jobs or housing based on their migrant status. There seems to be a widespread feeling of immigration being acceptable at a low level with a high degree of integration, with Japanese preferring people who are calm, measured and non-confrontational, not being comfortable with direct and confrontational foreigners. Many Japanese people consider low paid work being carried out by people that don’t understand linguistically or culturally what is expected of them in Japanese society to be an inconvenience.

britannica.com/place/Japan/The-bakuhan-system#ref319463 reuters.com/article/us-japan-discrimination-foreign/foreigners-in-japan-face-significant-levels-of-discrimination-survey-shows-idUSKBN1720GP

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Daniel Halliday
Jun 10
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DH edited this paragraph
https://www.britannica.com/place/Japan/The-bakuhan-system#ref319463 https://www.reuters.com/article/us-japan-discrimination-foreign/foreigners-in-japan-face-significant-levels-of-discrimination-survey-shows-idUSKBN1720GP

Japan needs to utilise this misunderstood long term resource

With the issues of migration and refugees being such a hotly debated topic in Europe and America the implications have been widely misunderstood or misrepresented. Although immigration can have an initial cost to a country, the long term boosts immigration poses economically are far reaching. In a country that has to contend with an ageing population, low birth rate, economic stagnation, a labour shortage and the highest debt to GDP ratio in the world, something drastic needs to change to alleviate these issues.

Facing such economic stagnation, Japan needs innovation, and immigration could be the spark or kindling that this fire needs. Japan has the lowest rate of entrepreneurs in the developed world, as many more people strive to be hired by an established business there, than to start their own. Whereas immigrants that have left their own country, they may be default risk takers. They have bought their own experience with them and may therefore think outside the box more than a regular national. It’s no surprise then that immigrants are three times more likely to become entrepreneurs than native born nationals across the global.

To keep productivity up the average Japanese worker has the longest hours and the shortest holidays of any developed nations while they enjoy the same salary rates of their parents’ generation, with no guarantee of a pension. The Japan Centre for International Exchange is nonpartisan organisation dedicated to strengthening Japan's international networks of cooperation who view immigration as one of the most important issues facing the country, managing director Toshihiro Menju saying "We are reaching a point where if we don't start thinking about immigration, then Japan's future will be in danger" [1].

Japan needs to change their policy on this issue, as it could at least ease all of these problems, and at most solve them.

[1] straitstimes.com/asia/east-asia/japan-planning-to-welcome-more-low-skilled-workers

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Daniel Halliday
Jun 10
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DH edited this paragraph
[1] https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/east-asia/japan-planning-to-welcome-more-low-skilled-workers

Immigration should be further utilised, but strictly controlled to protect migrants & society alike

As Shinzo Abe pledges to increase immigration by 2025 to address the labour shortage, it is important to keep in mind past failures, in an effort to not let history repeat itself. The Technical Intern Training Program was set up by the Japanese government in the 90’s to attract interns to Japan from developing countries, similarly to address the shortage of low skilled labour. The idea was to provide training and technical skills on the job, however the scheme has been criticised for failing to deliver these skills and subsiding into more of a guest worker program. Further reports of labour rights violations and issues with health and safety are common and have even lead to an intern's death in an extreme case.

Immigration of foreign nationals in Japan takes two main forms, that of high and low skilled workers, refugee acceptance being famously low. High skilled migrants that have a professional skillset that is rare in Japan can migrate with the aid of a sponsoring company, while low skilled workers have previously been welcomed by the above mentioned intern program. However, Abe plans to implement a five year system to accept 500,000 construction, agriculture, nursing, hotel and shipbuilding workers by 2025.

More immigration should not mean looser laws however, tougher laws should be put into place to increase but continue to control immigration. Laws should also be refined to increase working standards for low skilled workers, and deliver on promises made with workers before leaving their home nation. Further legislation needs to be put into place so that integration boosting programs and cultural awareness are effective, to safeguard migrants and Japanese citizens alike. straitstimes.com/asia/east-asia/japan-planning-to-welcome-more-low-skilled-workers

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Daniel Halliday
Aug 30, 2018
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DH edited this paragraph
Immigration of foreign nationals in Japan takes two main forms, that of high and low skilled workers, refugee acceptance being famously low. High skilled migrants that have a professional skillset that is rare in Japan can migrate with the aid of a sponsoring company, while low skilled workers have previously been welcomed by the above mentioned intern program. However, Abe plans to implement a five year system to accept 500,000 construction, agriculture, nursing, hotel and shipbuilding workers by 2025.
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