Why are Japanese averse to immigration?

TOKYO —

Small, seemingly insignificant events can sometimes precipitate great things. Konosuke Matsushita, the founder of Panasonic, established a multinational consumer electronics giant with nothing more than an improved light socket. The roots of automotive juggernaut Honda can be found at a small auto shop where its founder, Soichiro Honda, perfected his trade.

The Convention of Kanagawa in 1854 preceded the Meiji Restoration, which opened Japan up to the world and led Japan to become a major economic tour-de-force. Though it is often said that “the flutter of a butterfly’s wings can cause a hurricane on the other side of the world”, the hurricane – in the case of Japan – usually occurs on the same side.

Today, Japan is facing a tropical depression that may well transform into a full blown typhoon: the inevitability of expanding immigration. Japan has recently announced its plan to introduce a points-based immigration system that awards visa preference to skilled professionals. The shift in immigration policy is hardly uncalled for: whether found domestically or abroad, Japan will need workers to fill in the gaps left by the decline of its shrinking population.

Despite the new stance taken by the Japanese government, mass immigration remains unpopular among the Japanese notwithstanding the socioeconomic issues caused by the growing number of elderly.

Why does Japan oppose open immigration? What changes must be made to its immigration system?

In seeking answers and further clarification to the issue, I interviewed Jon Heese: a councillor in the city of Tsukuba and one of the few foreign-born politicians in Japan.

Based on your experience living in Japan, why do you think the Japanese are so averse to immigration?

There are no easy answers to that question, but I can list a few.

The first is fear. People fear change. Most Japanese are used to doing things a certain way. They are afraid they will have to change the way things are done to accommodate the newcomers.

When I was a young boy in Canada, we started to see immigrants from non-European countries filling the cities, with the perception that they were taking our jobs. Many in the older generation wore their racism on their sleeves. Now, most people have become accustomed to the diversity and acclimated to it.

The Japanese are no different. Young people in Tsukuba are so used to seeing visible minorities that no one pays attention anymore. But just go a few kilometres out of town and walk down the street and one constantly hears “Gaijin da,” from the kids. The adults are too polite, but I see them looking too. Probably because I’m so handsome (laughs).

There’s also the education factor. The Japanese have a long history of being brainwashed into fearing foreigners. Though one never hears the really racist epitaphs anymore (“yabunjin,” “kebunjin”), we now see police posters with foreign faces advising locals to watch out for strange activities. Chinese gangs are regularly blamed for break-ins in every newspaper. Many Japanese believe foreigners are more likely to commit crimes, in spite of statistics showing otherwise.

Finally, we have excessive nationalism. Many people born in a country are taught to love and honor their homeland. In my opinion, it’s as bad as religion. When new people show up and want to take a part of that for their own, it becomes hard for people who were born there to accept that someone not born there could love a place as much as them, much less deserve a part of it. If there were a war, will the “outsiders” fight and die for their adopted country? Can they be trusted?

What benefits do you see in increased immigration to Japan? Downsides?

The benefits immigrants bring are quite obvious in most open countries. Other than the factory and office work they do, immigrants also open their own restaurants, provide services like travel agencies, construction, repairs or import/export businesses. They are likely to maintain contact with their home country, sending and receiving market information.

Japan’s used car market, as an example, has a large contingent of foreigners who buy cars for export and parts. Given that many countries have a large Japanese presence in their auto market, used parts are in steady demand. Ten-year-old cars often have almost zero value in the Japanese used car market. Even good-condition cars with less than 100,000 km on the dial are regularly traded in for no money, given to the car dealer to get rid of.

Japanese auto dealers don’t have the foreign contacts to export these trade-ins. If a car can’t be sold on the domestic market, the Japanese dealers can sell it at auction. Foreign dealers can then purchase such cars cheaply and send them to a country where buyers are proud to drive a 10+ year old Toyota van.

Downsides: Any large influx of foreigners is going to cause cultural friction. Japanese is a difficult language to master, especially written Japanese. That said, Japan’s most likely immigrants are going to come primarily from China and Korea. The Chinese will have little trouble learning kanji. Even the Koreans study a certain amount of kanji in order to read the original Korean literary masters. Of course, the Philippines and the rest of Southeast Asia will also provide smaller numbers of immigrants. Mastering kanji will be a monumental task which is only likely to be achieved through their children.

Immigrants who can’t read are less likely to be able to participate in political and cultural activities. They are less likely to be informed of new laws or rules. They will have trouble communicating with the teachers of their children. They are less likely to achieve a position of respect in the Japanese community. I see these issues influencing many immigrants’ assessments of their situation in Japan. They feel left out or simply refuse to participate in the community.

If Japan decides to loosen immigration rules, my greatest fear is allowing the creation of ghettos. A Chinatown is one thing, but if there is little interaction between the communities, it is a recipe for trouble.

What kind of immigrants does Japan need?

Given the aging population, I would say health care workers, nurses and even doctors are going to be in great demand. For now, nurses are being groomed in Indonesia and the Philippines for the Japanese system, but since the demand is still not great enough, the nurses’ unions are pressuring to keep the foreign nurses out with tough demands for language skills. Time and need will eventually result in visa restrictions being largely changed in the health care sector.

Despite the recent shift in immigration policy, what do you think needs to be changed in the immigration system? Realistically, how long would it take for these changes to come into effect?

The number one change Japan will need to make to be taken seriously as a country ready for immigrants is to drop their single nationality policy. Many developed countries allow dual citizenship. Japan is fooling itself if they think they’ll be able to get enough workers without offering a real slice of the pie. Unfortunately, my guess is that the older generation of politicians will allow the country to suffer economic deterioration before they allow dual citizenship. I would guess that dual citizenship is at least 20 years away.

How should Japan deal with the influx of immigrants? Would it not lead to an over saturated job market?

Japan needs to let in 20 million immigrants over the next 20 years if they want to slow the demographic death spiral. There will be no shortage of jobs for the next two generations or more. The Japanese people have a strong interest in succeeding. As they have met similar challenges in the past, overcoming great odds, I am sure that they will do so in the future.

Author Infomation

Peter Dyloco
Peter Dyloco
Peter Dyloco is concerned about the gradual decline of the Japanese economy. His objective is to bring a fresh perspective to the issues currently facing the country, and spark discussion that may lead to their potential resolutions.
Website: http://www.facebook.com/hkborntokyoinspired
  • 0

    Akula

    Large scale immigration is a non-starter, and these days Japan has trouble retaining the migrants that are already here. Figures not out yet but the 2011 figures will almost certainly see a third straight year of decline in the number of resident foreign nationals.

  • -1

    AiserX

    Because the Japanese people and Govt are not stupid. What they do before they implement some foreign way of doing things is see how that new "way" works in foreign countries. The Japanese know that a massive influx of Immigrants just won't work and Western Europe and parts of the U.S prove this. Japan is not a country of immigrant as say the U.S. Don't forget, the heads of states from France, Germany, and the U.K (keep in mind that the U.K is by far the best at integrating immigrants in Europe) have already stated that "Multiculturalism does not work" or "has failed". Race riots are a common thing now in the U.K, France and even Australia.

    It would be in Japans best interest not to open the flood gates. How ever Japan has this amazing ability to reinvent itself too outsiders surprises given any hardship. Japan will just automatize its work force ad have Robots perform the more menial task ad even some of the more professional task, for example one such Robot teaches english to young children.

  • -5

    MaboDofuIsSpicy

    the nurses’ unions are pressuring to keep the foreign nurses out with tough demands for language skills

    If they cannot read, would you want them working with you?

    Nurses here do nothing anyway compared to state side.

  • 4

    アメリ フセイン

    As someone who have been studying Japanese for two years now, I can confirm that learning Kanji is hard. But if you have around 500 and aware of the grammatical rules, an electronic dictionary or phone can help you get by just fine.

  • -4

    gogogo

    Japan needs to open immigration up to fix the population.

  • -5

    Otani Diogo

    has anyone ever asked how long will it take to japanese language "to die"? this is the only place it is spoken after all..

    and people here already act like robots, soon they might as well work like them. besides, you'll always need a technician to fix whatever problem shows up. unless they make another robot out of this too.

  • 2

    Johannes Weber

    @AiserX:

    I truly wonder how a robot should teach a language. Even though English is one of the easiest languages around (since it can be found everywhere and the grammar is very basic), there is no way to learn dynamical speech from an automated device. Furthermore, robots can never be more creative than their developers. Thus, the "imported creativity" from potential immigrants is indispensable, if growth is to be achieved in quality instead of just quantity

    The UK has mainly immirgrants from the Commonwealth. Thus, they have been influenced by the British culture before coming to the UK. I think it is not even a fair comparison with say Turks in Germany or so. Japan will never, ever become multicultural. And the failure of multiculturalism in principle has not been proved yet, only in a few cases which were badly organised. Even the diversity of regional cultures in a country are a sort of multiculturalism.

    Japanese mainstream culture and language will ensure that there will not be any significant changes through small groups of foreigners to the local Japanese population over short time scales. They should set themselves quotas for the different world regions or countries and keep the immigrants mixed among the different groups. That is the key to avoid parallel societies.

  • 4

    zichi

    By 2050, the country will need at least 30 million foreign workers just to do the work and pay the taxes.

  • 6

    gaijinfo

    By the time the government gets around to letting in the number of immigrants it needs, nobody is going to want to come here anymore.

  • 4

    oginome

    Letting millions into Japan just for economics sakes will cause MASSIVE problems in the future. The Japanese demographic 'crisis' is something which unfolded naturally, there has to be a way around this problem that doesn't involve importing millions of workers just so they can fill the job spaces. That's not fair either to the native Japanese or the immigrants.

  • 2

    zichi

    By 2050 there won't be enough Japanese working to pay the pensions and health care for all those who won't be working.

  • 3

    issa1

    ""Japan needs to let in 20 million immigrants over the next 20 years if they want to slow the demographic death spiral.""

    Is the typical political speech trying to garner votes for the next election.

    Is part of human being try living together with people who have the same cultural identity and sharing the same customs, traditions, etc., etc.

    What is the matter? Nothing !

  • 3

    issa1

    The Japanese people feel shivers just thinking at receive thousands of immigrants from neighboring country.

    I hope that Japan not follow the example of germany,england,france because these countries have faced enormous problems related to immigrants.

  • 5

    Johannes Weber

    @issa1:

    The mistake of many western countries was to assume that migrants just come to work and leave later on instead of feeling at home and living a real life with social networks and children. That's why many immigrant groups evolved into parallel societies. This is a mistake which can be avoided. One of the few occasions, where the US and Canada can really show how things should be done.

    Just by tying the possibility of permanent residency to fluency in the Japanese language will solve major problems like that. Avoid grouping foreigners of similar background together in large numbers and present an open, welcoming society to newcomers and there won't be ghettos and parallel societies. Tsukuba city is one of the best examples that a (mostly) open, tolerant society can exist even in Japan. The Japanese language is one of the main control functions for immigration. Put a handful of other hurdles (like education or employment) and you can ensure that Japan will not face the same problem with immigrants as other countries do.

  • 1

    davestrousers

    @Johannes Weber

    I wonder whether Tsukuba provides such an example. Foreigners are very visible there, especially around the uni and the big research centers, but I wonder really how many there are... whether its a significant number. Also you're talking mostly about quite highly educated and therefore well off people - they tend to live independently.. nice apartment, car etc. Compare to the Brazillians in nearby towns in Ibaraki, the impression I get is that they do tend towards that kind of parallel society you're talking about. I think its an unavoidable fact that comes with any significant immigration.

  • 3

    Johannes Weber

    @davestrousers:

    The foreigners in Tsukuba constitute about 3% of the urban population. In total numbers, we are about 7500 or so. The largest groups are Chinese, Koreans and Russians as far as I know. Large numbers live in rather poor conditions as students, since even MEXT funded students cannot be truly called well off. Most of us research- or study-related foreigners are rather well-connected with Japanese researchers or students. No true ghetto feeling here, except for the student dorms. But the Japanese live by the same conditions. I guess the things that matter are social layer and education, which are far more important than bare monetary facts.

    The problem with the Brazilian population in Japan is that they were brought for mostly menial labour. They are probably only barely integrated and have low education standards in many cases, which implies that their share in the Japanese society is very limited. Thus, Japan committed the same mistake with them as Germany committed with Turkish workers in the sixties and seventies. I fully agree with you that Japanese society naturally creates parallel societies and people who are not integrated well in their local communities. But this happens to Japanese families, too, once they move away from their ancestral homes.

    Tsukuba is an example how things can be done for the future. It is definitely not the standard, neither in Japan nor somewhere else in the world.

  • 2

    davestrousers

    @Johannes Weber

    If large scale immigration happens most of the people WILL do menial labour and other unskilled jobs, to think otherwise is completely unrealistic.

  • 1

    CanadianJapan

    Immigration to Japan is next to impossible, everything in the system is against you. I am Canadian, been here 10 years, Japanese speaking, working in IT with an engineer's visa, I cannot get the permanent residency because I have no guarantor! Even though the guarantor has basically nothing other than a moral responsibility, Japanese think all foreigners have criminal ties etc. I doubt even a third (in percentage) of the immigration to Canada will never be allowed here. Influx of foreigners would depress wages, destroy the "employment for life" system etc. Go to a noodle shop run by Japanese, 1000 yen for ramen and chahan, go to another one run by Chinese and you get the same thing for 650 yen. Too many immigrants may not be a good thing but in reasonable numbers they bring healthy competition to the system. Bring in more Chinese and Korean women and Japanese men might be able to find a spouse that does not require them to make 7 million or more per year.

  • -1

    Johannes Weber

    @davestrousers:

    The problem arises when the entire social layer of immigrants is bound to menial labour. As long as they have the same social permissibility as natives, there is no problem with lots of people doing menial tasks. And if you take a look at Japan, then you will see that basically all mid-level jobs (only little real education required, but dedicated training) are held by Japanese.

    There are foreigners for menial tasks that Japanese don't want to do and for those tasks, where they don't have enough qualified citizens. The middle of the social/education/income structure is missing here. Open this layer up, establish permissibility for foreigners - and immigration works fine. Keep it closed - and Japan will never recover from its home-grown problems.

  • -5

    Cos

    One thing I have seen only here. The Japanese authorities and politicians are the most anti-migration of all. And they are in position to block it no matter what others think. Look at it, they have always been those blocking the opening. They say, of course, that they want to avoid the terro threat in Japan (North-Korean spies, Alqaida included). But they also claim they fear ethnic clashes like those that occurred in the early 20th century when Japanese vigilantes did some pogroms on Korean migrants. In a place like Osaka, with 10% of population being "foreigners",even more when they also count "burakumin" in the "sensitive population". They are totally obsessed by that idea. And it's only them. We had hundreds of community meetings and nobody thinks such riots are likely in 21st century. Still, they warn us all the time : "If whatever international problem with a country like the US happens, be careful as you look American, so your neighbors may slaughter you...". After 9/11, during one full month, I have walked back the 800 meters from my station to my doorstep with 2 cops on my side, which was worrying everybody around (either they thought a public enemy was hidden in that gaijin girl body, or they felt I need protection as I was targetted by a herd of godzilla flying around... ). In the Kobe expat ghetto, they had as many cops watching as if that was the White House hosting a Summit with 100 heads of States. Here, there were a few incidents in the years of the North-Korean hostages being shown every day on TV news. A dozen of Korean kids have been harassed by a bunch of weird guys, that didn't look like a popular riot at all. But the police reacted like crazy. They have guarded the Chosen-gakkos as if they had been Embassies, they told them to stop wearing any uniform making them "visible" as a minority or to chat in Korean in streets. Well, everybody could see well all the anti-terro display, finger printing, etc. Whenever the topic of immigration is discussed in shimin-kai, most people see "difficulties" but are open to getting some types of migration... but the debate is always stopped by a dude from City/Prefecture/Ministery of Justice saying there are not enough means to warranty the safety of more "foreigners" and prevent terrorism. It's the full time job of these guys. They want to keep it.

    The mistake of many western countries was to assume that migrants just come to work and leave later on instead of feeling at home

    That's the contrary. That's the Japanese point of view. European countries, the US, Australia... considered migrants should not only feel at home and become citizens but also convert to local culture. That worked in most cases from the second generation. Really, in France, up to 1980, we could say that 98% of the second generation migrants were fully assimilated into mainstream. The 2% being "particularly conservative" groups like Haredim and nomadic Rom that don't want to mingle, sometimes not even let kids go to school to be influenced by outsiders. But that assimilation failed for a part of latest generations of migrants, as there are "ethnic" communities trying to change the local lifestyle (they ask their religious laws to prevail, they ask public education in another language and changes of curriculum, they ask shops to stop selling stuff taboo in their religion/culture, etc). The Japanese often see only that tip of the iceberg, the most problematic "non assimilated" groups in Western countries. But they are small minorities.

    Influx of foreigners would depress wages, destroy the "employment for life" system etc.

    Not so much. That's already the case that most Japanese (80%) are not in employment for life and millions already work for 600~700 yen per hour.

    Bring in more Chinese and Korean women and Japanese men might be able to find a spouse that does not require them to make 7 million or more per year.

    The educated ones will want a hubby that makes that money roughly, because that's what a family with 2 to 3 kids needs to live as well like average people, even in South-Korean and Chinese cities (and that's not being rich, in city, a kid costs 1 million + 1 million has to be saved for higher education each year). Those that settle for less will soon find their family is struggling and they will work as much as they can. I don't see any of them being housewives in Osaka, they simply can't afford it now. They are all totally working migrants, the same way as if they wouldn't be married and had arrived only to work. If their hubby is not a seishain, or very rich, they never obtain PR due to lack of serious sponsor. So they try to keep a job that could be required to secure a visa if ever they were no longer a spouse. Or they look for a richer hubby that can provide support for a family and sponsor their PR, they dump the first hubby that was only their entry ticket. I have Chinese friends that picked up J-hubbies through some specialized omiai service and... ahem, that really requires a lot of courage to be with such characters, and in-law families, even only a few years. That's not really prostitution, but surely, that shouldn't exist in a fair world. These women had no other legal options. Especially those that are not uni graduates.

    been here 10 years, Japanese speaking, working in IT with an engineer's visa, I cannot get the permanent residency

    The country considers us foreigners not as migrants, but as o-tetsudai. We are tolerated as long as we serve someone/some organization that is Japanese. No evolution in the last 60 years. I don't see it changing any time soon.

    By 2050, the country will need at least 30 million foreign workers just to do the work and pay the taxes.

    They won't get them. In 2050, the work will be done by compatriots from other "provinces"... of GC (Great China) and the Japanese will enjoy rights as a minority, just like the Tibetans. If China's regime evolves well, that could be the best hypothesis. If not, maybe the Tenno and the Dalai Lama will share an exile resort town with their courts.

  • 4

    Samantha Zoe Aso

    For me living here over 13 years, it has come as a blow to know that no matter how well I try to 'assimilate' or how well my family speak Japanese or the fact that my kids have a Japanese father and go to the local elementary school, we are still an oddity. I went few years ago to get a copy of the 'juminhyo' only to find that my name wasn't listed with my husband and children. I was in the 'bikuran' (remarks column) on the back page. I asked the city office staff why that was and their cavalier reply was 'Well, you aren't Japanese!' There is a whole 'us and them' approach deeply ingrained in this society. I have met some incredibly well travelled Japanese who embrace me as an individual rather than a race but sadly, they don't have say with the top boys. In the ATM I use, thenposters show foreigners snatching your purse while you are using the machines. I don't think most Japanese even see it as racism. But the creme de la creme for me was the day that a student, who lives a mere two minutes away, remarked that 'Only Japanese felt pain about March 11th as foreigners (even foreigners living here who experienced March 11tj) just aren't as sensitive as Japanese'.

    You've got that whole mindset to deal with. I think you have to have a tough skin to live here for all it's pros. Especially if you have kids here. Never mind whether Japan embraces immigration or not. I think Japan is going to have to make itself a lot more cosy to entice well educated foreigners.

  • 1

    malfupete

    The whole "us and them" mentality of this place is enough for me to never want to live there again.. the archaic Family Registry system, no recognition of dual citizenship for my kids, a social welfare system on the verge of collapse (unless they get their 20~30 million immigrants!!) an economy thats been stagnating for the past 20 years.. Even if you are a well educated foreigner, you still get the shaft.. Look at Woodward at Olympus, he worked from the bottom up to the CEO position and they had the gall to say the reason they canned him was that his "Management style did not jive with Japanese values" what a load of crap. Why on earth any educated foreigner would want to come to this place is beyond me

  • 2

    kchoze

    I'm guessing that the Japanese prize their social cohesion very much, something that would be inevitably disturbed by mass immigration. Japanese culture, like the cultures of most Asian countries, are very communal, based on strong social identities and tight social bonds, unlike the cultures of a lot of European countries (and countries derived from European countries like the US and Australia) that are much more individualistic. Obviously, it is much easier for an individualistic culture to welcome immigrants, whereas more communal cultures demand that immigrants integrate the whole much more, and when they have trouble doing so, or even refuse for the sake of preserving links to their original cultures, then they tend to want to reduce the amount of immigrants coming in to reduce the disturbances linked to them.

    I'm not saying either culture is necessarily superior, both have their advantages and drawbacks.

    However, I have to mock the idea that mass migration is just so great, as some economists claim. Mass migration is a symptom of an unbalanced world and of the failure of the world economic system to develop poorer countries, and it's just another way that rich countries steal resources (human resources) from poorer countries. These poorer countries are in dire needs of educated and/or skilled people to develop their economies and escape the trap of poverty, but rich countries take them instead by offering much better living conditions. Thus poor countries have trouble growing and the unbalance keeps growing bigger and bigger. Then again, I understand why economists and business interests want to see immigration... the more job applicants there are, the more they can lower workers' wages.

    It seems absurd to me also to consider a world where basically giving birth is "outsourced" to the Third World, which is basically what mass migration implies. I think it is better to limit immigration and to try to deal with one nation's problem with the nation's own resources, and to consider the problem of falling birth rates in the developed world.

  • 4

    Jay Que

    About Japan and immigration...

    Let me tell you, I really do enjoy the traditionalist nature of Japan, its at times almost "1950's American" virtues and wholesomeness.

    My home country - USA - and I am born in Manhattan, several generations on my fathers side born in Manhattan in fact - is still so "new" compared to Europe and certainly compared to Japan. I am very very libertarian when it comes to immigration into my home country and I think we need many many more immigrants to the USA. That's just wonderful. And, I am a 50-50 split: my Mom was born and raised in Scotland and came to America on the M/S Caledonia and actually came through Ellis Island, one of the last generations that did (bless her, she left this world at the age of 92 this past October...) So, its almost impossible for me to be part of the anti-immigrant rabble in the US.

    But -- Japan is way different and I am so glad that it is so different. What's good for America may not be so good for Japan, in such a large scale way as I envision and want for my own home country. I am in Japan now, and I like being quietly noticed as a gaijin. When I turn on tv here in Japan, what I do not see, is something I appreciate - the lowest common denominator culture reflected on American tv, the crudeness, the baseness. Such things should not be imported to Japan. Yes - Japan like America can benefit greatly by the wonderful contributions of newcomers, but, be careful what you let into your "fishbowl". Some invasive species can be a big problem, like the way certain species of harmful marine life can get into the US Great Lakes from the ballast discharge from sea-going vessels that come into those waterways from outside the ecosystem. As a libertarian I am reflexively against many regulations, but I have to be honest - some regulations are really for the best. Japan should not throw open its borders because the beauty that exists here can so easily be spoiled. Take care. Being "anti-immigrant" can be akin to racism, often based on fear of the unknown, but on the other hand, letting in the next "Typhoid Mary" is not too swift either. My advise to Japanese lawmakers - steady as she goes, keep a careful watch that the ballast being discharged in your clean waters does not ruin the beauty that has existed here for centuries. Open your mind, but while being open, be smart about it.

    Oh, and the politician interviewed seems to be prejudiced against religion. That's a sad revelation in itself, at least, to me. Even in this traditional yet secular Japan. But he is also quite right about immigrants adding something really helpful to Japan. I myself am in the export-import business, and that's also one of my reasons for being here. My US based company does well, and I am here not just to enjoy Japanese society but to contribute, meeting with our company agents. Part of my work is directly helpful to the Japanese economy, or at least, that is the intention. Ok, I hope my post is respectfully accepted. Best wishes to all newcomers, as well as all those who have been here for centuries.

  • -1

    tmarie

    Sam, great post - and sad because I feel exactly the same. I have been here nearly 11 years and on a daily basis am reminded that I am not one of "them". I blame the education system for this. They install a "we Japanese" mentality from the get go that never goes away. It is systematic racism and little is done to fix it. Why? Because it doesn't affect the law makers and those in power.

    I am at the point now of not even bothering to care about how I am perceived by the locals. Years ago I would make full efforts in trying to "fit in" and not disrupt the 'wa'. It didn't make me acceptable by the locals so now if I have a problem, I don't bother with the whole Japanese thing of either ignoring it or going through various routes. I will openly tell city hall they are racist with their policies, will complain to management of stores if I have been treated differently by staff based on my skin colour and will pretty much tell people off in Japanese if they are rude. Does that make me the 'bad" gaijin? Indeed but they think badly of us anyway. Plus, doing this makes ME feel better and makes me feel I have at least pointed out the problems with some of their polices.

    I teach uni here and I will question my students with their comments of "all Japanese" when they are being xenophobic (all Japanese have black hair and the like) without realizing it. When I ask them how they think I feel about policies (like me not being on my husband's koseki) they are shocked because they aren't aware of such things. If people like us don't do such things, this crap will continue.

    What drives me around the bend is when they start with the whole crap about Japan being an island country and how is was closed off. Yes, what is your point? The UK is an island. Hundreds of years ago there was limited contact with many places. With technology and the like there are no excuses for the lack of immigration here. Oh wait, yes there is. Xenophobia.

  • -1

    LH10

    why would you wanna leave japan? I would never leave Japan. so stay in japan lol

  • 1

    VicMOsaka

    Firstly, there is a language barrier in Japan. If you can't speak Japanese and understand the written language then it is impossible to live with out help in Japan. Allowing uncontrolled immigration will only lead to more crime - just take a lesson from all the other countries that lets all sorts of immigrants in. However, there are certain races that fit in quite well in Japan but I can't mention them only as I probably would be regarded as racist. These are my observations from living in Japan for 25 years. One thing I have to say is that as a blond headed foreigner, I have always been treated well by all Japanese. Perhaps a lot of it is to do with your own attitude and how you look at Japanese people and it's society.

    Jae Que, You explained it well in your post.

  • 0

    majimekun

    I'm a French citizen and believe me, Paris is becoming a third world's capital due to the amount of immigrants who don't simply know to behave and who are babies factories.

    I whish Japan never takes this route which is nothing else that a collective suicide.

    In the subway filled with graffiti and smelling like a perfect mix of urine and fecal matter, I often find myself being the only on white person around. African people yell on their newly acquired mobile phone in the subway whenever they can (almost always), north africans throw their rubish on the ground even when a rubbish bin is only 2 meters away, romanians kids rob people openly ... only the asians seem to be civilized enough.

    The problem is that such environments push people toward extremism in most european countries. It's going to get very ugly very soon.

  • -3

    Samantha Zoe Aso

    Tmarie- Thank you!

    Jay Que- Agree! Opening the floodgates and allowing anyone to enter isn't for the best. Controlled immigration is what is needed. However, if you want the 'creme de la creme' immigration wise, Japan is going to have to adapt her outlook and practices on a few levels. A foreign employee as equally qualified as his Japanese counterparts should be afforded the same rights. Not penalized as he is a foreigner and through some loophole classed as an 'entrepreneur' just so the company can save money.

    Japan can't have it's cake and eat it.

  • -4

    tmarie

    Immigration doesn't mean just letting anyone in - like France seems to do. Japan should want educated and well off foreigners. Thing is, they've made the "mistake" in the past of allowing "Japanese" blood in without regard to language and education skills. The thing is, most well educated and well off foreigners don't see any appeal in Japan. Why would they? They won't be allowed to into management positions, let alone head companies (hello Olympus), they will be treated differently due to the systematic racism and the work/life balance is crap here. Generally, the foreigners I described above bring in more money for the country than the locals - add in our taxes, family coming to visit, producing bilingual kids... heads down, we're a good investment.

    I stay because I married a local but trust me, if I hadn't, I would've packed up long ago and left. I don't regret my choice at all but do laugh (and cry) at how this country is going down the drain and the locals stick their head in the sand and hope the problems go away.

  • -4

    tmarie

    Oh and with the language thing, I tend to find that those who are the happiest here speak little Japanese. The more you know, the more you know how rude and racist the locals are.

  • 0

    anglootaku

    Is that why foreigners rescued Nissan, Sony and other companies? not all companies are anti change/anti foreigners, need to re-examine and do more research into a lot of companies prior to a brief judgement, including Rakuten where they endorse hiring foreigners and many other companies large, medium or small sized companies.

  • 0

    anglootaku

    Also a lot of startup companies by foreigners in Japan has increased dramatically, the Jgov has made things a lot more lucrative for foreigners to come, A. To compete with China B. TPP in the US will be a big thing C. They can not afford not to have more foreigners as where they stand in the world will drop, both economically and political influence in Asia..

  • 3

    yyj72

    Another factor to consider is that countries that accept immigrants are in competition with one another for the people they most want to attract. In that light, Japan is going to have a hard time selling itself as an attractive alternative to places like the U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand (places where many potential immigrants already have community or family connections). Unless it improves the way immigrants are treated, Japan's future immigrants are not going to be very high quality ones, to put it crudely.

  • 2

    yyj72

    Also, the whole "First World capitalist exploitation of the Third World's human resources" argument is a non sequitor - human migration predates colonialism and capitalism by about, oh at least 50,000 years or so. Homo sapiens have been voting with their feet in search of better lives since Adam and Eve.

  • 0

    Virtuoso

    The more you know, the more you know how rude and racist the locals are.

    That's a great lesson in anthropology: people are basically pack animals who follow their own herd instinct. Name a society where the locals don't rudely dis outsiders. Vanuatu, maybe?

  • 0

    tmarie

    Is that why foreigners rescued Nissan, Sony and other companies? Care to name a few others because as far as I know, that is pretty much it. Very few foreigners here ever make management level.

    Start up companies? Indeed, there are some. Though who do you think sponsors the people with the start up? Who do you think got the loans and whatnot? In most cases, these companies have a Japanese partner that gives these foreigners a chance. 100% owned and operated by foreigners? I know of zero. Every "foreigner" run language school I know is either "run" by the j-wife or has a Japanese person involved. Same goes for bars/cafes/restaurants... I know of who are supposedly "foreign" owned.

    You mention Rakuten, do you know who they are hiring? It isn't whitey from the western world. It tends to be Chinese/Korean/Thai... Well educated people but people who won't run to the labour laws when they get treated like crap. They also get paid pretty poorly compared to the Japanese and get looked over when it comes to promotions.

    Virtuoso, fair point but in many other civilized societies people are given a fair shot in terms of work, promotions and social/legal settings. The same can't be said for Japan - hence those non Japanese being stuck in the "comment" section of the family koseki, people getting overlooked based on skin colour... Certainly no country is "perfect" when it comes to immigration and racism but Japan has a LONG way to go before they are anywhere near the other develop[ed nations.

  • 0

    LH10

    @VicMOsaka

    aww tell us which race you've observed that fit in well. is it the Hispanics, Philippians and Europeans?

  • -2

    Samantha Zoe Aso

    Yes, there are companies out there who promote 'globalisation' and an open door policy to hiring foreigners but the reality of working in those companies is harshly different. I worked for one and it was an eyeopener. Despite all the backpatting and let's live together in harmony/ we're all humans under the same sun outward persona, when it came down to it there was still the 'us and them' mentality. I met quite a lot of 'returnees' who were having a hard time getting along with fellow work colleagues as they were perceived as ' too westernised'. The words of a returnee not mine.

  • -2

    Samantha Zoe Aso

    Unfortunately there is racism all over the world. I think with Japan it's instutionalised and not perceived as racism. From the 'half' schoolkid told to dye his hear black, the teacher 'let go' as the students didn't feel comfortable having a teacher with that colored skin, to a successful foreigner wanting to buy land in a certain area but the neighbourhood rallied against it and complained to the real estate as they 'didn't want that type of gaijin buying land and raising the crime rate in that area.' The real estate agency bowed under the pressure and refused to sell to the foreigner.

    If you want first class citizens then you can't treat them as second class once they arrive here.

  • 0

    tmarie

    I've never met a returnee who lived abroad for more than three years who hasn't complained about bullying and being told they aren't "real" Japanese. Sad, isn't it? 100% Japanese blood but tainted in the eyes of many. I think in a way they have it much, much harder than the foreigners who come - we have a choice and a homeland that usually 'accepts" us. Them? Not so much.

  • 7

    Bluebris

    I can't for the life of me think why foreigners would want to come to Japan, in order to get here and be told "it's only temporary" and to be reminded every single day that Japanese think that foreigners are somehow inferior to them. The fact is, that without huge immigration, Japan is doomed.

  • 7

    Tyler Vandenberg

    National debt of 240% GDP currently, 20 to 30 million less people putting Japan below 100 million by 2050 (25% of the current population or 2 Cities like Tokyo and Osaka gone) and with 25% of the population being over 65 in 2050.

    In 2010, the number of foreigners in Japan was 2,134,151 ( The US has more illegal immigrants (12 million) then Japan has legal)

    A study by the UN Population Division released in 2000 found that Japan would need to raise its retirement age to 77 or admit 1 million immigrants annually between 2000 and 2050 to maintain its worker-to-retiree ratio..............

    Any other ideas are would fail....... bc its just too late. For 2011 Japan's population lost 125,000 thats a record, but soon to be be beat by 2012 I'm sure........

  • 4

    zichi

    Tyler Vandenburg,

    so the country is already 12 million behind on needed immigrants?

  • 1

    Tyler Vandenberg

    Japanese government procrastination on both those plans....................

  • 2

    VicMOsaka

    LH10Jan. 07, 2012 - 04:26PM JST @VicMOsaka aww tell us which race you've observed that fit in well. is it the Hispanics, Philippians and Europeans?

    My observations are based on the 25 years that I have been in Japan, mixing with foreigners and involved with the exporting of Japanese motor vehicles. Ok then, People of Shri Lanka fit in very well, Americans, Europeans, and believe it or not, some Islamic people. I know that many people overseas are against Islamists, but they do behave themselves and respect the Japanese way of life. I think anyone who has the mind to accept the Japanese people and it's way of life will fit in well. Too many western people keep comparing Japan against their own country and can't take the Japanese way of life. For these people, it is best that they stick with their own culture. Japan has a lifestyle that is not suitable for most westerners and as far as some other races go, they are too inclined to engage in criminal behavour. In the end, it really comes down to what sort of person you are regardless of where you are from. It is just a matter of being able to sort out the good from the bad. Anyone who has taken the time to learn the language and culture of Japan would be a good asset to Japan.

  • -2

    Samantha Zoe Aso

    VicMOsaka. I would have thought that anyone coming here has the best intentions to try to fit in and enjoy their life as much as possible. I did and still do. Anyone living abroad, yes even Japanese do it, compare lifestyles with their own country or other countries they may have lived in. I think that is only human and natural. So if a foreigner is living here, totally immersed in the japanese way of life. Respecting traditions and the culture, shouldnt they also be treated the same as a japanese national? It can be quite a kick in the face to know that despite your best efforts, all that hard work and genuine admiration for a country and its people that you never will be accepted in the same way. That your kids probably won`t either.

    I agree with you in a way that it is about being able to sort out the good from the bad, however you can`t just black and white everything over. Some folk can have happy lives here. Others seek greener pastures anew.

  • 4

    Reckless

    I would like to give you all some top secret advice. Listen carefully:

    If you are a native speaker of English from a developed country you will make LESS money, and be treated with LESS respect if you attempt to become fluent at Japanese at your job.

    I passed level 1 of JLPT a few years back and spread the word at my office. I was immediately staffed on projects with volumes of Japanese documents, late night meetings in Japanese and given NO EXTRA MONEY for the additional work. Left that job and made the same mistake again touting my JP language skills. I was held to a MUCH HIGHER standard than the other foreigners in my office, given loads of EXTRA WORK in the Japanese language and NO ADDITIONAL TIME OR MONEY. I have seen this over and over and over with other foreigners.

    If you like Japanese and use it for hobbies, meeting friends, manga, etc. then that is great. Otherwise, if you are lucky enough to be a native speaker of the SOLE INTERNATIONAL LANGUAGE (i.e., ENGLISH), then take advantage of your luck and work smart for more money.

  • 0

    anglootaku

    @Tmarie When a non Japanese starts a company here, you actually need to hire a Japanese manager, it is Japanese law. There is a 101 other stories regarding foreigners doing business here, if your interested to know.

  • 0

    Mahiru Shiratori

    I stay because I married a local but trust me, if I hadn't, I would've packed up long ago and left.

    I'm so sorry to hear that. I hope you can leave Japan sometime soon. BTW, 神風 is spelled kamikaze, not kamakazi

  • 1

    AiserX

    @ Vicmosaka

    and believe it or not, some Islamic people.

    They are in VERY small numbers in Japan. The truth is Muslims will behave themselves in any foreign country until that is that they reach a certain % of the population. The Muslim communities in various Europeans countries were quite small at first, once they became a somewhat of a big block then it becomes chaotic and troublesome.

  • 2

    Rapan

    @Tmarie When a non Japanese starts a company here, you actually need to hire a Japanese manager, it is Japanese law. There is a 101 other stories regarding foreigners doing business here, if your interested to know.

    Not true unless they gave me some special treatment. I am the sole owner and stockholder of my own KK. We have no Japanese management. Of course we have some Japanese employees but were never required to do so. Could you provide some link to a reference to this law?

    I have never worked for anyone here though, always for myself for so I can't comment on what it is like to work for a Japanese run company with other immigrants. Japan seems rightly or wrongly so very much wanting to remain predominantly populated with only Japanese. In itself this is not a bad thing but it has it's consequences.

  • 0

    tmarie

    as far as some other races go, they are too inclined to engage in criminal behavour. And this got three thumbs up? Perhaps a few posters on here need to check their racism issues.

    Angloo, than that verifies my point, doesn't it?

    Mahiru, I loved Japan for the first five or so years. Then I figured out that regardless of what I do, how well I speak the language, how much I try and "fit in", I will never, ever be treated like a local. I don't bother anymore. What's the point? I stay because this is where my husband is from and where his job is. He, however, after living abroad for a year and coming to my home country a few times, has also stated that we will not stay here when his job is done. He is trying to go abroad again because he is sick and tired of seeing how I get treated here - and my reactions to being treated less than human by the locals. Be it a trip to city hall (and him finally seeing the problem with me not being on his koseki), the looks and comments I deal with when we are out, or all the little petty laws/rules that apply to me and not him and vice versa, he realises that I will never be happy here. I was. When I was new and didn't speak the language. It has taken him years to finally "see the light" on how we get treated badly. He's married to a foreigner and it took him years - and a year outside of Japan. I don't have hopes for the average local to see the problems and try and change them.

    Rapan, my understanding is that you have to employ a certain number of Japanese for a business here. I know of eikaiwas who have had to hire Japanese staff because they were warned they had to. I can't find the law for you but if you ask around someone might point you in the right direction.

  • -1

    tmarie

    With regards to the comments about Muslim, you might want to look into the issues in places like Toyama - it was in the news a few years ago that the locals were fed up with "them". They were demanding halal school lunches and the public basically told them to screw off. Also been noted that they are in the export car business and the locals are fed up with their junk heap yards and property - let alone the call to prayer noise and the like. Personally speaking, I am all for trying to adapt to the local culture/food but when you get slapped in the face by not being accepted, why bother?

  • 3

    yyj72

    YO! The immigration policy of a country is a self-fulfilling prophecy: if immigrants are welcomed and given genuine opportunities to advance themselves and contribute to society, then they usually do so. Other potential immigrants notice this and are drawn to that country. The process then becomes a virtuous circle, and what's more, that country can pick from the "cream of the crop" of applicants (see: USA, Canada, Australia, NZ, UK). If a country chooses to marginalize immigrants, then those people aren't fully motivated to contribute to, or feel any kinship towards, their new country. They then become the very people that the xenophobes feared: transient, non-participatory, and economically opportunistic (see: Japan, France, Germany).

  • 2

    yyj72

    PS: The countries in the former category have what could be called a "full-fledged immigration program", while those in the second category have something more akin to a "migration management program".

    So, "Why are Japanese averse to immigration?", my answer is: ignorance and cultural chauvinism - the same reasons for aversion to immigration you find anywhere.

  • 0

    anglootaku

    @Rapan It depends on the scale of the business.

  • 1

    Piltdown Man

    It seems to me very unlikely that there will be any meaningful increase in immigration to Japan in my lifetime. Why?

    First, the mindset is too deeply ingrained among most Japanese people that homogeneity (ie. racial purity) lends Japan its strengths — whereas countries with successful immigrant populations put much more value on diversity.

    Second, genuine long-term opportunities for non-Japanese people in Japan are severely limited by a pervasive 'the rest of the world against us' mentality instilled from a young age. As an example, I read an article in a Japanese primary school level student newspaper today encouraging students to study abroad not to become more well-rounded human beings, but instead to compete with those outside of Japan.

    This is very evident in academia in that whereas a significant percentage of internationally-acclaimed academics employed by US/Canadian/Australian/NZ/UK universities were born in other countries, this is definitely not the case in Japan.

  • 0

    tmarie

    The process then becomes a virtuous circle, and what's more, that country can pick from the "cream of the crop" of applicants (see: USA, Canada, Australia, NZ, UK).

    The US? Perhaps you need to take a look at the illegal immigration issues in the US and the fears that many have in the south now - which is many cases, is very, very fair based on what is going on. The same can also be said for the UK. Japan is "lucky" that it is an island nation and doesn't have open borders that leads to illegal immigrant problems like the US and UK but it does have a problem as it is with illegals.

    Legals in both the UK and the US have great opportunities depending on their backgrounds but in many cases, illegals fit this "marginalize immigrants, then those people aren't fully motivated to contribute to, or feel any kinship towards, their new country. They then become the very people that the xenophobes feared: transient, non-participatory, and economically opportunistic".

    Personally I think a country has a right whom to pick and chose who they want and think illegals should be placed on the first plane back with no questions asked - refugees are certainly different and should be treated as such. World doesn't work that way and in some cases, Japan has it right with their current standards. Thing is, they don't have the draw for the type of people they should want - young, educated, healthy... Plenty of better countries to go to where they'll be treated better and fairly.

  • -2

    Cos

    When a non Japanese starts a company here, you actually need to hire a Japanese manager, it is Japanese law.

    NO. Check the Jetro site. It's all in English. You need one director being a resident in Japan (not even permanent resident, foreigner living year 6 months a year is enough).

    @Rapan It depends on the scale of the business.

    No. On activities. You need to be a Japanese national only for professions (to get the profession license), like in any country. For some fuzoku activities, you need a police license, but I'm pretty sure PR residents can get it (I have not rechecked, I am not in that industry). The requirement to get a certain number of Japanese or PR foreigner full-time employees is not related to business operation. That's what Immigration asks to an organization that wants to sponsor work visas for foreigners. Of course, eikaiwa are likely to need that.

  • -2

    GW

    Japan has long long missed the boat where it had a shot at attracting the kind of applicants its point system is after, best Japan can hope is to POACH a few smart people from poor countries & have a few come in who married Japanese. Other than that & they can basically only really get unskilled/low skill labour.

    Even though I get along well with most of the people I interact with workwise & personally I am under no illusion, the vast majority of Japanese prefer none of us were in Japan past our 2wk vacations. While the powers that be arent openly hostile, they clearly let us know that we are tolerated, little more than that.

    Like others here I have ties that keep me here, lots I really like & tons that really piss me off & its getting worse. Hindsights a bit of a b^%ch but if I knew back in the early days what I do now I wudnt have stayed, my 20+yrs have been awesome but the future is pretty damned bleak

  • 1

    anglootaku

    @Cos

    You need one director being a resident in Japan (not even permanent resident, foreigner living year 6 months a year is enough).

    That is what I meant, yes most do hire foreign residents that is acceptable also, though most foreign companies tend to also hire Japanese citizens, most foreign and Japanese HR companies also emphasis natives for some management jobs (though not all and is open to foreigners also)

    For some fuzoku activities, you need a police license, but I'm pretty sure PR residents can get it (I have not rechecked, I am not in that industry).

    lol that was random, is there actually a license for such activities?

  • 0

    anglootaku

    Point is, race is not the issue to any job.. who can contribute and excel in a company and make the difference is what is needed, China is actually very multicultural and have their own native minorities.

  • 0

    anglootaku

    so regardless if white, black, purple, yellow, pink.. if they have the know how, education, experience or the entrepreneur spirit is what will excel Japan into the future and compete with China.

  • -1

    yyj72

    @tmarie

    The US? Perhaps you need to take a look at the illegal immigration issues in the US and the fears that many have in the south now - which is many cases, is very, very fair based on what is going on. The same can also be said for the UK. Japan is "lucky" that it is an island nation and doesn't have open borders that leads to illegal immigrant problems like the US and UK but it does have a problem as it is with illegals.

    I take your point. My views were regarding the legal, organized immigration process (e.g. via Ellis Island, New York) - illegal migration is a whole other issue. Mind you, the US southwest was conquered from Mexico anyway, so it should hardly come as a surprise that Latinos are slowly returning to majority status there.

  • 2

    tmarie

    You need to be a Japanese national only for professions (to get the profession license), like in any country. Wrong. Wrong on so many levels. In Japan you can't be a teacher in the public school system if you are not Japanese - regardless of your teaching qualifications being obtained in Japan. The foreign teachers I know who were 'trained" in Japan, have the degree from a J-uni are not allowed to teach at the public level. Why? They are not Japanese. Heck, foreigners legally aren't allowed in the classroom by themselves in the public school system. I myself taught in the public system in the UK and am not British. With my qualifications I am able to walk into pretty much ANY commonwealth country (or former) and teach right off the bat. Not Japanese? Than screw off. That is NOT the same "like in any country". This goes back to the "us" and "them" issue. Trained in Japan, obviously speak the language but since you don't have the passport... This would not happen in other countries. Same goes for doctors, nurses, psychiatrists... Indeed some do need extra training but once they obtain that, all clear and they can get to work.

  • 0

    yyj72

    My understanding is that one needs to pass an examination and get a certificate from the Min. of Educ. in order to become a public-school teacher in Japan. I'm ignorant of whether or not citizenship is a separate requirement.

  • 1

    Igor Tetsuo Inocima

    @tmarie and @yyj72 There are around 200 foreign teachers employed at public japanese schools.

    The thing is that foreigners aren`t allowed to be public servants (which is the same case as many countries). But they have a loophole since 1991 that allows foreigners to be hired as full-time instructors (常勤講師) at public schools. For Public Universities there's no nationality requirement anymore.

    The full explanation about public schools can be found here in Japanese: http://www.pref.kanagawa.jp/cnt/p40932.html

  • 1

    Cos

    @Tmarie, I don't make the rules. I tell you what the law is. Go to Jetro site, it's the official texts in English.

    Same goes for doctors, nurses, psychiatrists...

    My English is poor. I thought that was called "professions". What's the word ?

    In Japan you can't be a teacher in the public school system if you are not Japanese

    The question was about starting up a business. That's different from working as a civil servant. And you forgot the police, army, Tenno, yokozuna, Miss Japan...etc.

    Trained in Japan, obviously speak the language but since you don't have the passport... This would not happen in other countries.

    In France, they still require the nationality to be a fully employed public school teacher, or in any public job. That'd be easier to count the countries where they don't.

    Same goes for doctors, nurses, psychiatrists... Indeed some do need extra training but once they obtain that, all clear and they can get to work.

    That's exactly that, my Argentinian surgeon friend, refugee in France. At 40, he'd have needed to do again 7 yrs of uni. At least, he was bilingual, so he worked as a part-time assistant nurse, and in 10 years of night school, he obtained his license to be a nurse. Like millions of others. You can be a doctor in Japan. The UK opened access to certain specialties as they are in penury. But anyway, you have decided everything was evil in Japan. You totally miss the point which is not the limited access to the public jobs and profession that you find everywhere. The fact is most work visas in Japan block the migrants in one type of job and makes the access to more freedom with PR, and nationality very difficult. Only some countries do that.

    He is trying to go abroad again because he is sick and tired of seeing how I get treated here - and my reactions to being treated less than human by the locals.

    You're not having the... Tokyo syndrome ?

  • 0

    tmarie

    Cos, you need to follow the thread better - we aren't just talking business, we are talking about racism in Japan with regards to those who are qualified in other countries (developed nations) who aren't qualified in Japan based on their passport. You can talk about France - fair point and I would complain about it if I lived in France but I don't and haven't - but gave you numerous examples of countries that don't have the same restrictions as Japan. There is no reason why a teacher who is trained IN Japan, speaks the language, shouldn't be hired by the public education system. The only issue is their ethnicity.

    No idea why you suggest "Tokyo syndrome" for pointing some issues within the system here. I also find it rather presumptuous that you assume that I live in Tokyo. Is that because I am a foreigner? My husband lived abroad and was treated well and sees the same can't be said for me or other foreigners in Japan. Shame you can't see that and have to resort to snide comments.

    Igor, do you have a link for those 200 teachers? I know of zero BOEs that have any. When I was an ALT (2001-2004) foreigners were not allowed to be left alone - based on what numerous teachers and the BOE told me - with students in the public school system. Any idea what they are teaching and why this hasn't opened the door for others? Is it a project or something? Why are they allowed but my Japanese BEd holding friends aren't allowed?

    yyj, foreigners can get a temp teaching license (no qualifications needed funnily enough) if their private school applies for it which legally allows them to work alone. However, it is not the teacher's and if they leave the school, they lose it - regardless of if they trained in Japan. My understanding is that non-Japanese are not allowed to sit the prefecture teaching license tests. You don't have to pass this to teach in the public school system though - many new teachers haven't passed it yet - but still, no foreign teachers allowed unless Igor is correct - which is news to me. Would be happy if it was true as their might be a chance things will change in the future.

  • 0

    Blair Herron

    There is no reason why a teacher who is trained IN Japan, speaks the language, shouldn't be hired by the public education system. My understanding is that non-Japanese are not allowed to sit the prefecture teaching license tests.

    Didn't you read igor's link? It all depends on a municipal government. In Kanagawa prefecture, since 1992, foreigners (not only zainichi) can take the examination and can be hired by public schools (elementary, middle, high, blind.. school) by law.

    http://www.pref.kanagawa.jp/cnt/p40932.html

  • 0

    Mocheake

    No matter how long you live here, if you don't look Japanese, you will be considered and outsider by the vast majority of the population. The majority do not want you here and many are downright hostile and unwelcoming. Japan has made its own bed and will have to live with it. Everyone here knows about the earthquake in Tohoku (of course) but ask them about the one in Haiti or the one in Chile which happened a few months prior and I believe less than 5% would even say they heard about them much less cared. They are geared to care only about this country and seem to have very little empathy for others in tough situations unless some poor Japanese happened to be caught up in that place. You can learn kanji and speak the language fluently but at the end of the day, you're still a gaijin. That word doesn't mean just 'foreigner'. It means someone who is lesser;someone to be feared;someone who can't fit in. In this world of haves and have nots, when there's a problem, the poor, the minority or the immigrant will always be at fault, as you can see by some of the posters who've written about the problems in Europe. The problems with multiculturalism can't be that government's staid or inherently racist policies or the attitude of the native people. The problem is ALWAYS the poor, the minority or the immigrant AKA, the convenient scapegoats. The Bogeyman. In a few countries where the privileged classes have set themselves up to succeed and stay at the top of the Totem Pole, the problem is always with the 'lower' classes. In the U.S., it was OK to give hundreds of billions to bail out the ungrateful and unrepentant fat-cat Wall Street types who created the Lehman Shock and destroyed the world economy because they weren't the problem. The problem is with the minorities who unfairly receive money from the government (see: Santorum, Rick, and probably most other U.S. presidential candidates, along with a big percentage of the population). Anyway, when I'm out and about, the noisiest, rudest and most ill-mannered people I encounter on a regular basis here are the locals. They can't/don't want to see that because it's not a problem then. They are allowed to step on you and arbitrarily change or interpret the rules as they see fit. When it's all said and done, I'm fairly certain and pretty hopeful that I won't be here when the big problems arise, but good luck to them. Maybe soon someone will suggest constructive dialogue and present real ideas on how to approach and deal with the problems. It's not just the incoming who need integration training. You can go on believing your group is smarter, nicer and less violent than the rest of the world if you want but the reality is usually far different even though you don't want to see it. In Japan, social problems like crimes committed by the elderly and the amount of homeless people are on the rise. Solutions will be needed to tackle a whole host of problems which cannot be blamed on foreigners.

  • 1

    tmarie

    **Didn't you read igor's link? It all depends on a municipal government. In Kanagawa prefecture, since 1992, foreigners (not only zainichi) can take the examination and can be hired by public schools (elementary, middle, high, blind.. school) by law. **

    Yippppeeee! ONE prefecture out of 48 allows "us" to teach in the public system.... Excuse me for not jumping over the moon for this. Though yes, I guess better than nothing. Long way to go though compared to countries who have no problems at all with foreigners educating their young ones.

  • 0

    Blair Herron

    ONE prefecture out of 48

    Who said one? Don't you google?

  • 1

    southsakai

    This was a very interesting thread with some great information coming through from many errr.. fellow Gaijins :) I loved the "Top Secret" advise from Reckless, thanks Bro!

    Tmarie been getting so many thumbs down, i don't get it. She has some very valid and reasonable points. I can understand her anger with the system here and the "racism" she's calling out from her own personal experience.

    I'm married to a Japanese myself and because I'm not active in any local profession ( working locally ), I'm in no position to give any comment about those matters.

    From my personal experience though, yes there are time in Japan when i felt elements of racism here and there. But Racism exists everywhere in this word. I can tell you because the color of my skin, in some countries I am a valid target to be killed just because of that, the color of my skin.

    In Japan however I feel no such fear of these sorts of things, racism exists but it is not extreme, it's mild and sometimes they don't mean any harm at all, it'S just a cultural misunderstanding. Let's just say my kind usually has a bad rep so it makes sense for the locals to be suspicious of me. I don't blame them one bit!

    Compared to overseas Japan is still very much a safe country. Sure it's not 100% crime free and bad things happen but if you compare it to many countries overseas ( who have opened their gates ), well you can be the judge of that.

    If i intend to live in this country till i hit the grave, I need to go out of my way to prove to society that I'm a good human being ready to make positive contributions to this society. Not to be a leech and suck of it.

    I have met many Japanese people, especially the elderly who have been very nice and welcoming to me. It's amazing. I'm no fool and can usually tell when someone is friendly just to show face and in the back, they'll talk a whole bunch of nasty things about me. I have met some real genuine warm hearted people here.

    Japan needs to be careful though about opening it's gates. Europe is a very good example of what can become. Japan is in a real dilemma, they need foreign professionals and skilled workers in to save them but at the same time, there will be a trade off.

    I really don't want to see Japanese culture and tradition diluted. I very much admire and appreciate the good qualities of this amazing race of people. I'm not saying everything is great, they too have flaws like any race. But overall the general attributes of Japanese culture and tradition is just awesome!

    This will happen though if too many foreigners start living here mixed up with the YOUNG Japanese generation who can't see the value in their heritage. After all these days the young Japanese generation sees everything from overseas and "amazingly cool". They can't see the value in their own culture.

    Japan is a great country and at times you can loose your head here. Life will feel unfair, and times will be there when we feel like we are mistreated and feel racial elements. But it's how you take it, process it and move forward that's more important.

    I have now decided to live here. So many things are against me in this country, I can't even begin to process it. If i were in Australia or even back home in my native country, I'd be really kicking it everyday! Here i got to struggle for the $$ and everything is just tough! Sometimes it feels like climbing a high mountain to no end.

    But i got a wonderful wife and family here now, I want to overcome all these challenges and make the best of my life and the life of my family here in Japan.

    Time to make something of my life and Japan is a wonderful place to make it happen.

    Tmarie I'm glad you have a understanding husband and that things will only work out for the better for you in the near future.

  • 0

    Blair Herron

    In Japan you can't be a teacher in the public school system if you are not Japanese - regardless of your teaching qualifications being obtained in Japan. The foreign teachers I know who were 'trained" in Japan, have the degree from a J-uni are not allowed to teach at the public level. non-Japanese are not allowed to sit the prefecture teaching license tests.

    Source, please.

    According to School Education Act, since 1991, non-Japanese can take teacher employment exams and can be a full time instructor(常勤講師) at Japanese public schools. Some municipal governments hire those people as a full time teacher(教諭)

    http://www.kyoiku.metro.tokyo.jp/kohyojoho/reiki_int/reiki_honbun/g1011940001.html

  • 0

    wtfjapan

    @Tyler Vandenberg look up the word procrastination in the thesaurus and youll see the letters "GOJ"

  • 1

    tmarie

    Blair, the people I know were not allowed to take the exam. One guy tried to get hired by the Osaka school board and was given the run around that was clearly due to him not being Japanese. You can give examples of 'rules" and I can give you examples of experience. Having a law and following though on it are two different things. I was repeatedly told I was not legally allowed to be left alone in a classroom in the public school system by teachers at different schools. Were those people lying to me? Were they lying to my coworkers who have had the same issues? Why are there so few non-Japanese in the school system is there is a law that allows them to work in it?

    South, I get thumbs down because I don't go on about how great a country Japan is. I am obviously "Japan bashing" if I point out some large issues Japan has that aren't being dealt with. Is Japan all bad? Certainly it is not but there are a lot of issues that Japan needs to work out when it comes to their policies towards non-Japanese.

  • 4

    Andrew Matthews

    I notice that anyone who speaks out against the way foreigners are treated in Japan are marked down, and everyone who speaks for it are marked up, yet the comments themselves seemed evenly balanced. Just an observation...

  • 0

    Blair Herron

    I am obviously "Japan bashing" if I point out some large issues Japan has that aren't being dealt with. Is Japan all bad?

    I don't think you are Japan bashing as I read some of your previous posts. I just though it's odd that you are clearly stating that non-Japanese cannot teach in Japanese public schools since one of my American friends here teach full time at Japanese public high school as a full time English instructor.

    Having a law and following though on it are two different things.

    I'm not clear what you are trying say here. I thought you were talking about legal system of Japan that non-Japanese cannot teach in Japanese public schools.

    the people I know were not allowed to take the exam..

    What kind of exam is it? (Someone correct me if I was wrong) According to School Education Act, non-Japanese can take teacher employment exam since 1991. (sorry I stated 1992 in my previous post. It was written in Heisei and I miscalculated) There was a long list of rules for being a teacher/instructor at public schools. I need more info what kind of exam your friend was trying to take, who told him/her so, and why? It could be illegal to do so by the municipal government and if so, he/she needs to tell the government and it should be corrected.

    One guy tried to get hired by the Osaka school board and was given the run around that was clearly due to him not being Japanese

    As I said above, being 常勤講師 and教諭 are different. Non-Japanese are eligible to be 常勤講師, but being 教諭 depends on a municipal government. Did the guy try to get hired as 常勤講師 or教諭?

    I was repeatedly told I was not legally allowed to be left alone in a classroom in the public school system by teachers at different schools.

    It is mentioned in School Education Act that foreign part-time instructors are not allowed to be left alone in a classroom. I personally think it is BS as I have experiences teaching public elementary schools in U.S. and New Zealand (and Japan) and never told I am not allowed to be left alone because I am a part-time foreign teacher. I would be devastated if I was told so.

    If you could give me more information, I can make things more clear for you and for myself. If there are things need to be fixed, I would tell the board of education in Osaka or whatever. If you want to protect the confidentiality of personal information, I understand that, too.

    I'm not bashing you as you are not bashing Japan, either. I personally thought this (non-Japanese can/cannot teach at Japanese public schools) is a large issue and want to make things clear.

  • 0

    cubic

    tmarie, you should probably do a bit more research into this stuff about non-Japanese becoming teachers, instead of passing off your experiences as the rule for the rest of the country. You were an ALT in one prefecture 8 years ago - things change. I don't think you're Japan-bashing - you're just making meaningless generalisations.

  • 2

    tmarie

    The people in question all took their BEds in Japanese unis, did their student teaching in Japanese schools. Two did this is get FT status at the private schools they were teaching. One guy tried to take the Osaka teaching test and was told he was not allowed because he was not Japanese I am assuming he went for the 教諭 test - as you stated it depends on the prefecture. So basically, what you've just written does actually agree with what I have been stating. I can't give you any more info than that because at the end of the day, that is it. Japanese uni educated (which means he has the Japanese to do the job as he passed his degree no problem and worked at a private school before) and due to his nationality was shown the door when it came time for the public sector teaching test- which as you stated, seems to be fine based on the prefect rules.

    The exam I am referring to is the prefecture exam. They all have different exams and you don't have to have this exam to test in public school though you can't be hired FT without them. Plenty of new BEd holders or teaching certificate holders are able to teach for a few years without it but are strongly encouraged to take it ASAP. Certain prefectures are known to have easy or difficult tests - it is the same for any subject teacher. You can work in a private school FT without this test. Many want to take it because public school work is government work so usually better pay for those starting out and who want job security.

    It seems that your friends might be 常勤講師 - which you don't need the test for. I do wonder if your friend would be able to become kyouyu though.

    As for not being able to be left alone, it is pathetic. More so when they have someone who doesn't teach the subject trying to teach the class and not having a damn clue what to do. It is also rude and regardless of what some may think, xenophobic.

    Cubic, perhaps you should read the above post - certainly not 'meaningless generalisations". There is clearly an issue with the education system here and not allowing non-Japanese equal status as the locals. If you can't see that, I can't help you.

    Besides education, this issue runs in most job sectors in Japan. Why? Because there are no rules to stop it from happening.

  • 1

    Blair Herron

    Thank you for sharing your story and giving me information. From my experience, Japanese public schools are very exclusive. It seems like they don't want anybody coming from outside. I heard (at J-shine teachers' training), 70% of public elementary school teachers do not want Japanese English teachers to come to his/her class.

    As for not being able to be left alone, it is pathetic. More so when they have someone who doesn't teach the subject trying to teach the class and not having a damn clue what to do. It is also rude and regardless of what some may think, xenophobic.

    I think I'm gonna do more research and do something about it. SHAME!!!

  • 0

    Blair Herron

    About 200+ foreign teachers employed at Japanese public school, in 2008 there are 215 常勤講師(full time instructors). 63 in Osaka-fu, 54 in Osaka-shi, 6 in Tokyo, for example.

    http://kenkyusho.blog.shinobi.jp/Category/2/

  • -5

    tmarie

    I'm going to question the Osaka number - perhaps they are taking about JETS? No way does Osaka have 63 foreign teachers classified as "FT" status as in the Japanese FT meaning. They have a lot of ALTs that many teachers thinks are "FT" but are not. More so with Hashimoto in there trying to get rid of foreigner teachers - and doing a damn good job of it too!

    Teachers in Japan don't want ANYONE, regardless of nationality, in their classes. For the most part they dislike student teachers, they certainly don't like being told they have to have an ALT and they all hate classroom observation days - be it the parents or other teachers. My former school used to do a lottery on who got stuck with student teachers and teacher observation days - I swear to god! Personally, I think they know their teaching isn't up to par and having people observe makes it obvious.

    Would be more than happy to read the research - huge issue with amazing teachers packing up and leaving because of the way they get treated and passed over while useless Japanese teachers move up the ladder. If anything, Japan should be hiring qualified native speakers or near native speakers for their English classes since well, Munkasho wants classes taught in English. We all know that nearly all Japanese English teachers can't and won't do that..

  • -1

    Blair Herron

    The number of non-Japanese 常勤講師 are from the research done by Asahi Shimbun and Foreign Residents Research Institute investigation (全国在日外国人教育研究所) in 2008.

    http://www.excite-webtl.jp/world/english/web/?wb_url=http%3A%2F%2Fkenkyusho.blog.shinobi.jp%2FEntry%2F7%2F&wb_lp=JAEN&wb_dis=2

    http://kenkyusho.blog.shinobi.jp/Entry/7/

    I've also been wondering why so many in Osaka comparing to other prefectures. Maybe because there are many zainichi Koreans in Kansai? (Top 3: Osaka, Kyoto, Hyogo: 40% of all zainichi Koreans are living in those 3 prefectures)

    http://todo-ran.com/t/kiji/11618

    We all know that nearly all Japanese English teachers can't and won't do that..

    Exactly!!!

  • -6

    tmarie

    Could be "Koreans" though teaching English?? However, I have to wonder if it isn't a screw up or misunderstanding. Perhaps whomever they spoke to thought their JETs counted at FT? Last I heard the Fu had about that number employed with the JET program, the NET program (though I think that may have been cut - last I heard Hashimoto was chopping away) and a few odd ones out. The JTEs I worked with thought I was "FT" with bonuses and everything so can easily see how a screw up would happen - most do which is why they get testy with "us" taking holidays and the like. They are usually shocked when you tell them it is a limited contract - and that most people have never taught before! I am willing to bet my right hand there is not that number of foreigner teachers with FT contracts the same as Japanese nationals in the country - let alone in Osaka. Cheers for the links!

  • -2

    Cos

    Could be "Koreans" though teaching English??

    Nope. That's not in the curriculum. They teach eigo. Like they teach kokugo, sugaku, any subject. The parents know that. They don't protest at all, but they count their kids every night to check none was abducted... No, no, put a Japanese person with a soroban in the class to count. Kidding. You are obsessed by "race". You don't realize how everybody or his father is "Korean" here. Just like Kobe is "Chinese". And as that's history for nearly all Chinese and most Koreans as too Japanese nationality. If they hadn't, they applied for change when they started studies to be a teacher. There is no background check, and ethnic Koreans teach the same subjects, same way as ethnic Nihonjins, no discrimination in the system. Is it the sense of your question ? You have never met them in your so wide experience ?

    Last I heard the Fu had about that number employed with the JET program,

    JET are not teachers but assistants. I wonder how many JET are left, but they seem to be so much fewer than in the 90's. At some point, when Nova was still on feet, they boasted that in Osaka, they had more teachers in public schools than JET. Plausible. Having seen the draft of the deal, when they started, a dispatched teacher costed 1/3 of the cost of a JET (that was then getting housing, etc). That could be less these days, as non-Westerners take eikaiwa part jobs at the flat rate (750 yen per hour), and even others settle for less than before.

    Japan should be hiring qualified native speakers or near native speakers for their English classes since well,

    Unlikely. Unless the trend changes dramatically, they are getting rid of what is left of JET and of the blue-eyed eikaiwa. I don't mean only Hashimoto (he is the last to jump in the bandwagon) and only Osaka. All Japan. I can't find stats, but my impression if there were 2000 "Westerners" employed in teaching (all included) in Osaka-city in year 1998, in 2008, there were less than 500. This year, even less. Why ? Can we say the whole JET program since its start, plus the whole eikaiwa, plus the incentives for companies to hire eikaiwa and do OJT English, has been a success and value for their money ? That the national fluency in English has improved so much in the last 20 years ?

    They are usually shocked when you tell them it is a limited contract - and that most people have never taught before!

    Shocked in which way ? After a minute of empathy for you, they are even more shocked that the unqualified JET are more paid than many Japanese parents with 15 yrs of experience in their jobs (not FT + bonuses either)... I am not sure they complain the young foreigners that they are just like Working Holiday youth...with better deals on their tax money. Now, schools, even public ones, tend to hire on a hourly basis, no contract, cheaper native speakers. Example, a woman I know is from Sri-Lanka, native English second language speakers, spouse visa, housewife with her J-kids... they give her flat rate, just the hours they need ( 5 to 10 a week). No official hiring, they give envelopes of cash from some free activity budget. Isn't that perfect for them ? I know many like that. Is it rare in the rest of Japan ? They can find thousands. There are many "English native speakers", fluent in Japanese, already used to deal with Japanese kids and with the dragons (PTA), and cheap : Filipinos, Indian, Pakistani, Chinese (they are like Brits, well Hong-Kong), South-Koreans, well native or not, cheap...

  • 0

    Blair Herron

    Could be "Koreans" though teaching English??

    They are not necessarily English teachers as being a 常勤講師(Jokin-Koshi=full time instructor). Elementary school teachers basically teach all subjects, Junior/middle school teachers teach certain subject. As many zainichi Koreans first language is Japanese (zainichi North Koreans are different story, though), they could be any subject teachers including 国語(Kokugo=Japanese).

    In order to be 教諭(Kyoyu=full time teacher), you have to have a teacher's license (obtain from Japanese university, majoring in Education including Student Teaching: 2~4 weeks.) And then you need to pass Teacher Employment Exam by municipal government.

    In order to be 常勤講師(Jokin-Koshi=full time instructor: non-Japanese are eligible since 1991 by law), (basically) you have to have a teacher's license (obtain from Japanese university majoring in Education including Student Teaching: 2~4 weeks). (even if you don't have it yet, you could be a full time instructor but will be asked to get it ASAP). You don't need to pass Teacher Employment Exam by municipal government. Since it's very difficult to pass Teacher Employment Exam, many Japanese start from Jokin-koshi and then try to pass the exam in order to be Kyoyu.

    Perhaps whomever they spoke to thought their JETs counted at FT? Last I heard the Fu had about that number employed with the JET program, the NET program

    I don't know much about JET program. If they have a teaching license from Japanese university majoring in Education including Student Teaching, they could be counted as Jokin-Koshi in Japanese public schools. But in that case, JET program teachers could be told to be a homeroom teacher, do parents/teacher conference,家庭訪問(house visit), and everything.

    The JTEs I worked with thought I was "FT" with bonuses and everything so can easily see how a screw up would happen - most do which is why they get testy with "us" taking holidays and the like.

    Being hired through JET program and teach full time is different from being hired as Jokin-koshi. Bonus, holidays and the like depend on JET program institute.

    The difference between 教諭(kyoyu) and 常勤講師(Jokin-koshi) is Kyoyu can work until required retirement age, Jokin-koshi is hired/renew the contract every 364 days. Their basic salary is the same, including bonus. They both can get the same number of paid holidays, maternity leave...etc. The amount of work is basically the same: basic teaching, homeroom teacher, (could be told to be a head teacher), TP conference, house visit, club activity, and everything.

    I am willing to bet my right hand there is not that number of foreigner teachers with FT contracts the same as Japanese nationals in the country.

    JET program foreign teachers with FT contracts and 常勤講師(full time instructor) are different. Again, both Japanese nationals and non-Japanese can be 常勤講師 since 1991 by law.

    http://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E6%95%99%E8%AB%AD

    http://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E8%AC%9B%E5%B8%AB_(%E6%95%99%E8%82%B2)

  • -6

    tmarie

    Blair, I assumed English teachers due to the link you posted. Indeed JETs are different - which was my point. Thing is though, many of the teachers I worked with assumed I was hired as a FT teacher with the same benefits (and drawbacks?) as them which is why I am suggesting that someone made a mistake with regards to the info. Cheers for all the info. At the end of the day though, it is pretty clear that foreigners aren't treated exactly the same as the locals - based on the info you've given. With take a look at the others links you posted.

    Cos, You are obsessed by "race". You do know what this thread is about, right? "Why are Japanese averse to immigration..." I am not talking about "race" persay but xenophobia. A Japanese American would be treated pretty much the same as whitey for these matters.

    You don't realize how everybody or his father is "Korean" here. Just like Kobe is "Chinese" Laughable. Perhaps you need to check out the stats about the make up of both cities. Indeed there are "large" populations of Koreans and Chinese but I think you are over estimating the numbers.

    I am more than happy to discuss what a failure the JET program and dispatch/eikaiwa has been in Japan but I think the mod would probably edit it. I agree with you though - my comment on this thread though is about qualified teachers who actually know what they are doing - more so than most j teachers of "eigo". One could easily turn around and say "Have the Japanese teachers been successful in their "eigo" goals?" The answers is certainly a large "no".

    After a minute of empathy for you, they are even more shocked that the unqualified JET are more paid than many Japanese parents with 15 yrs of experience in their jobs (not FT + bonuses either)... Not all JETs are unqualified and at time, some are even more qualified (though not in the eyes of the Japanese education system) than the teachers they are supposed to be assisting. Indeed, they are the minority but you can't assume all JETs are unqualified. It is the same mistake the government makes when assuming that no gaijin could be qualified to teach in Japan and do a better job than those "qualified" J-teachers.

    Indeed, there are many "native" English speakers of English working under the table or above the table makign crap wages. I know more than a few Sri Lankan and Filipino myself who make 1000 yen an hour. The thing is, they work mostly at "language lounges" and the like. Sadly, they get discriminated against by the locals for not being the blonde hair, blue eyes gaijin they want. I will however, raise the same question with regards to them as I do with the blue eyed ones - are they qualified to be teaching? If not, I have zero sympathy for them. If they are, by all means, they should allowed the same job chances as the locals. Which is the problem. They aren't. Which is why many well qualified and excellent teachers leave Japan after a year or two. It is why many won't even bother coming in the first place. Until Japan does something about the discrimination against non-natives in the work force, they won't get the immigrants they so desperately need. Sad thing is, Japan still hasn't realised that they do indeed need them.

    • Moderator

      All readers back on topic please. The subject is immigration, not JETs.

  • 0

    GW

    Hello out there, any new skilled immigrants arrived of late, come on, chime in, dont be shy now.....

  • 0

    GW

    guess its not working to well

  • -3

    tmarie

    GW, are there really any new people coming - besides Chinese? With GEOS and NOVA gone, JET dying a slow death, the banks having a heck of a time... Who is coming besides cheap labour?

  • 0

    lgjhere

    A great new book that explores the struggles of immigrants is "What Foreigners Need To Know About America From A To Z: How to understand crazy American culture, people, government, business, language and more.” It paints a revealing picture of America for those foreigners who will benefit from a better understanding. Endorsed by ambassadors, educators, and editors, it even compares America's immigration policy with other countries, including Japan. Here's an excerpt from the chapter on History: "Of the top ten countries accepting resettled refugees in 2006, the U.S. accepted more than twice as many as the next nine countries combined. No doubt cultural differences account for the disparity. For example, according to the United Nations, in 1999 Japan accepted 16 refugees for resettlement while the U.S. took in 85,010. Throughout history, America has always been viewed as open to foreigners except for a few periods noted above, while others still view Japan today as a closed society, much as it was from 1616 to 1853 when Japan closed its ports to all but a few Dutch and Chinese traders. Back then the U.S. hoped Japan would agree to open certain ports so American and other vessels could begin to trade with the mysterious island kingdom and ships could refuel there. On the other hand, some activists claim that Japan’s immigration laws violate human rights and should be reformed. They say some Japanese don’t relate to cultures and peoples different from their own, witness the nightclubs that have signs reading “no foreigners allowed.” Further, they say foreigners are oftentimes rejected when applying for apartments without a Japanese guarantor, and some Japanese don’t want to sit next to a foreigner on a train, the same things that might happen in the U.S. and in other countries with certain foreigners or minorities. At least these are common cultural perceptions of our countries. I find that traveling in Japan is no different than other countries as long as one follows the customs and courtesies of that country. Myths and perceptions are hard to change. www.AmericaAtoZ.com

  • 3

    JadeDragon

    I didn't learn Japanese because I ever expected I would end up using it one day. I did it because I enjoyed it, simple as that. At the time it was just a hobby but one which took up most of my time, I didn't mind. Fast forward 20 years later and I would never have though I would be where I am now. When it comes to immigration I think one has to think of it this way. Keep one foot in your home country and one foot in Japan. In my case it has worked out quit well as a translator for a multinational company. I can be equal parts Japan and equal parts wherever else. What makes this deal pretty sweet is that I am helping maintain good relations with all of our partners. Whether it be a new client or established ones which don't speak the language or being lost in translation. It's the best job in the world and one which doesn't require me to be in any one place for to long. What makes it even better is that my wife works for the airlines so we get to see each other quit often.

    Now I am not saying my situation is going to be the norm which it isn't. I think the key to immigration in Japan is to address the needs of businesses, companies & organizations competing in a globalized, 21st century economy. The immigration market approach can tell us much about the skill composition of the immigrant pool. The self-selected sample of immigrants may be dominated by relatively unskilled persons or it may be composed of persons who are highly skilled. The type of skill-sorting that occurs as people move to whichever country makes them the best offer is far from obvious though. Nevertheless, it is one of the most important questions that must be addressed by policy makers. After all, the economic benefits of immigration clearly depend on it.

    The immigration of unskilled workers may allow manufacturers and fanners to fill menial jobs that require few skills with relatively low wage labor. By contrast, the immigration of skilled workers helps provide staff for universities, hospitals, and scientific laboratories as just a few examples. While more careful study is required, it is useful to examine how income inequality in the country of origin affects the type of immigrant attracted by Japan, United States or otherwise. How immigration will ultimately play out in Japan is anyone's guess. Yet I believe what it really needs to come down to is talent. Talent is the fuel that drives the engine of the global economy'. Talent is an enabler for private companies, governments and academic institutions to close skills gaps and remedy talent shortages, while also moving more to employability and employment. Immigration is only as good as the people which it brings to it. Just my professional opinion is all. :)

  • -1

    jpblue

    Great discussions. I'll pitch in with my personal opinion. (That's all it is, my point of view). I am an Asian man who's lived in u.s., Australia, and Japan. And I can say that there is very little "melting" in any countries when you don't look like they do. I mainly grew up and lived in the u.s., and no matter how much I act like them, speak like them and think like them, know more about america and its pop culture than the natives, you will never be fully accepted. The same goes for Australia. So even though these supposed "open" countries say they welcome you, they don't. Maybe a few of the really good folks do, but majority of them don't really want you there. I'm pointing this out because you western folks complaining about xenophobia of the japanese are mostly from open immigration countries and you know that it doesn't work that well. U.s. for example keeps letting/allowing huge number of legal and illegal Mexican and south american immigrants to come in. Ever been to south central L.A.? A ton of kids and adults can barely or not speak English, and they're born in u.s.! That's not the worst, the gang problems is the worst. The violence against gangs themselves is one thing, but to intimidate and harm innocent bystanders happens a lot, and the government seems to have no answer for this. Back to Japan. Of course the foreigners have themselves to blame. I spent a year living in Japan and because my first language now is English I met a lot of English speaking foreigners, especially white Americans (I'm pointing out the color differences not to be racist but because in my observation white and Asian Americans often have different attitudes), and often the american attitude is still "why are/do they (Japanese) do this? Basically still feeling like they're the superior, advanced being and wondering why these strange Japanese do things in such backward ways. I always wanted to tell them 'you know, we're not in u.s., we're in Japan." So, do you think the Japanese government/citizens want people like that in their country? Hope not. As others have mentioned and you all know or should know, is that Japan is Japan because of its people and culture, letting all kinds of people in who don't want to live the Japanese way would not be wise. So being selective, yes Japan should. But after proving that I wish and hope the Japanese government will make it a bit easier to be a PR. As mentioned above I've lived in Japan for a year, and though not a perfect country (which one is), it is the perfect one for me. I'm currently started taking Japanese lessons and hope to someday live in Japan permanently. I just really love it there. It's the only country where I feel I can be myself.

  • 0

    lucabrasi

    @Astrid

    Nothing "leftist" about disliking nationalism. You don't think kids in the Soviet Union were taught to love the "Motherland"? No, nationalism is neither leftist or rightist. It's just very, very stupid.

  • -1

    Peter Jackson

    Japan is a clever country. no multiculturalism that has seen Europe turn into a hell hole. keep japan japanese. beautiful country and beautiful people. immigration ruins everything it touches.

  • -2

    Levi Cassidy

    Japan should never, and most likely will never open to immigrants. Countries around the world are restricting their migration policies now, because they see how little benefit it brings compared to overall damage. Japan is what it is because its 95% Japanese. Im happy to see the number of immigrants in Japan decreasing since 2010. East asians are too smart for multiculturalism

  • -1

    TeddySkurcz

    Well to be honest with you guys it doesn't really matter if Japan wants to open to immigrants or not. The fact is that they are losing skilled workers who prefer to go to the UK, US, Germany, Canada, Norway, Australia or New Zealand where they can make relatively same amount of money and have more freedom and cosy life. Beside that how you can expect skilled workers to come to Japan if they don't know Japanese? Do you really expect them to study Japanese for another 5 years after all that time they spent in the University/College/Institute getting their degrees/experience? Let's be honest English is an international language widely used to communicate and at work all over the world and nothing is going to change it. Lack of multiculturalism is also disadvantage. In Japan you will be treated as a "gajin" while in Europe, America or any other country mentioned above you will be regular citizen no matter of your origin.

    I'm skilled worker from Europe which is currently working in Canada. I would be delighted to work in Japan but I know it is not going to happen and you know what maybe it's just not worth it, huh?

  • 0

    Sabineko

    Very interesting comments. I've not lived in Japan, but am thinking about it seriously.

    I married a Japanese woman 7 years ago and she came over to the UK to live. But I've always wondered whether we could live in Japan.

    I've visited Japan five times now, the last time for a month, staying with my in-laws in Tokyo and near Koriyama, out in the sticks. I'm very comfortable in Japan, despite only having a very rudimentary grasp of the spoken language and practically no capability for the written.

    Each time I'm there, it feels like more of a home than my home country. But then my parents were both immigrants to the UK and so I'm only a first gen UK native. I'm pretty asian looking, being 50% Chinese, and have been mistaken for a Japanese a couple of times, even when wandering around as a tourist. Folk will start talking to me in Japanese and be surprised when I can't understand them and reply in English or my very poor Japanese.

    But I know that visiting a country is very different to living there. So it's interesting to read the experiences, good and bad, that long term aliens in Japan have had.

    Maybe living there (for me) wouldn't be so different to living here in the UK, given that I feel somewhat a stranger in my own land. My home town in the UK changed totally beyond recognition in the 30 years I spent growing up and living there. The buildings stayed largely the same but there were so many immigrants that it became a foreign country around me.

    I feel like Ford Prefect, the hitch-hiker from Douglas Adams' novel, who came to Earth and got stuck here for several years. Nowhere was his home. He was an outsider everywhere but just accepted that he was an alien and tried to blend in and make friends.

  • -5

    Thomas Anderson

    Why are Japanese averse to immigration?

    This should read, "Why are Japanese bureaucrats averse to immigration?" So that they can keep their power without having to deal any serious opposition... duh. It is far easier to rule a nation that is kept under the "monocultural" and "racially homogenous nation" myth (which was created only recently) than to having to deal with the rising rival powers that inevitably arises from having a diverse and differing population.

  • 0

    fonton_beep

    Rapan, tmarie is correct. I've experienced the same thing and did a lot of reading official documents. The only reason you could start a KK without a japanese manager was because you a) have a permanent visa, b) have an investor visa (which forces you to invest a hefty sum every year or c) you operate your company outside the company/immigration laws.

  • -1

    Strangerland

    Not true. I don't have either permanent residence, nor an investor's visa, and I've started two KKs, neither of them with a Japanese manager.

  • 0

    Abriel95

    Nearly 99% of the population in Japan are Japanese. And they have a really rich history and culture, so of course they are afraid of foreigners, it's understandable. Open immigration is a bad thing for every country. If you want to live in an another country, in this case Japan, you must show that you really deserve to live there, by knowing the language, their history and their culture. Open- immigration means fracturing their culture that they are so proud of. I agree they should have a more open policy but it must still remain restrictive in a way or in other. The creation of ghettos is THE WORST thing that can happen to a country. People must live together peacefully and NOT create their own neighbourhoods just because they are too proud and stupid too let go of their culture.(Chinatown for e.x.) Now don't get me wrong, I'm do not support anti-immigration laws , because I'm an immigrant myself, but every country must have restrictive policies in order to stop useless foreigners who don't know a word of Japanese or who don't a thing about their culture, to go in Japan and live there, because that doesn't help the economy at all. And by being useless they become a reason, for them to stereotype and prejudice other foreigners from the same country.

    20 mln immigrants in 20 year? That's likely impossible. Even now the majority of immigrants never actually manage to stay in Japan because they can't fit in their society and this includes even Koreans and Chinese people. For them is kinda harder because their relations with Japaneses is not so good due to their history. And you should know that Asian countries are not the destination of most of the Europeans and even most of American citizens (Including North and South America). And even though they changed the laws, the government in Japan is still very restrictive when it comes to immigration. It's like they opened a small door of a giant cage. And the people also remain conservative.

    Canada is the worst example to follow. It's open policies have destroyed this country. They let everyone in and then they leave them jobless. And they wonder , why they commit crimes.And this happen to every country who has an open immigration. Things like ''If I marry an American for.ex, I get a citizenship and I'm allowed to stay in the US '' or ''Take your whole family with you , if you got a citizenship or something like that'' are STUPID and they should disappear as soon as possible. BTW, if you think that a multi-ethnic country does not have racism, YOU ARE A COMPLETE IDIOT and IDEALISTIC.

    If you want a perfect society. You should test every foreigner about their language skills and about their abilities. In this case I also deny Japan's polices, because they still use preferential treatment. If a foreigner shows that he/she's very skilled in his job, then there's no reason why you shouldn't give them the job they are looking for. Every foreigner must know that he's a minority and that means that he doesn't have the right to force the others to accept his/her culture and that also means that they must not feel superior to anyone. And If they are too stupid or ignorant to accept this then they can go back to where they came from. Immigration must be based on meritocracy, it doesn't matter if that means restrictive...

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