A New Phase Of Japan’s Immigration Policy

2386 words - 10 pages

In 2000, the United Nations reported that an average of 609,000 immigrants per year from 1995 through 2050 is needed for Japan in order to maintain its workforce at the 1995 level (U. N. Population Division 53). The news surprised many people in Japan, and they were forced to face the immigration issue sincerely. This controversial issue has been discussed for last 150 years. Facing today’s low birth-rate and ageing population, Japan should now accept more immigrants and become a multi-ethnic country in the future. On the other hand, there are strong oppositions against accepting immigrants for economic and cultural reasons. To clarify the points, first the issue regarding foreign workers is examined from the economic point of view in a short-time period. The present situation and historical background of foreign labor help explaining both reasons why Japan should or should not accept more foreign workers. Secondly, immigration to Japan is examined from the cultural point of view in the long time period. In conclusion, it is very important for Japan to become multi-cultural and international in order to be more creative and competitive in the world.
Japan will inevitably accept more foreign workers to meet the huge demand of labor force in various industrial fields such as nursing and caring. The present situation of foreign labor is critical. Low birth-rate and ageing process caused the lack of workforce especially in dirty, dangerous, and difficult jobs. Foreigners gradually started to take those unskilled jobs few decades ago. The number of foreign workers in Japan has 50% increased in last ten years (Koseirodosho Shokugyo Anteikyoku 6). Japan’s government is trying to catch up the situation. Its immigration policy is very simple. They welcome skilled workers and eliminate unskilled ones. They introduced a training program for unskilled foreign workers to become a skilled one, which is called Industrial Training and Technical Internship. Workers mainly from developing countries can learn technical skills as an intern and can be a skillful worker at last. Another program for encouraging skilled foreign workers to come to Japan has just started few years ago under the Economic Partnership Agreement with the Philippines and Indonesia. Foreign nurses and care workers are now accepted in hospitals and nursing homes in Japan. Through these programs, Japan is trying to meet the demands of the labor force in particular industries.
However, there are many reasons from the opposite side to restrict foreign workers coming to Japan from the economic point of view. The strongest opposition is that there are enough women and retired workers who are ready to work. Mainly because of the tax system and insufficient public supports for them, Japanese women are not likely to return to their previous jobs after their first maternity leaves (Only 32.5% of them returned in 2008) (Jinkoukozou Kenkyubu). Most of them have job experience and can adjust new jobs...

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