Japan and the Immigration Issue


The United Nations defines immigrants as “individuals who live outside their country of origin for a period of one year or more”. Although, the Japanese definition of immigrants is a little different. To the Japanese government immigrants are only those individuals who enter the country on the assumption that they will reside permanently as immigrants in the country. [2]

The history of Japan with immigration has a very particularly background. In its modern history, Japan has been experienced a little inflow of people from others countries. After Japan’s colonization in Korea in 1910, migration between the two countries was very frequently, however it was considered more as an internal migration rather than international and the Korean who went to Japan was brought as conscripted labores and they reached around 2 million in 1945. Although, about a century ago, Chinese immigrants formed their own community in Japan, but for Japanese people they were considered as ‘foreign workers’. Only in 1952, when Japan became independent from the United States occupation, immigrants from Korea and Taiwan were declared as foreigners. And in early 1980s, the majority of the immigrant’s residents in Japan were colonial immigrants and their descendants. [3][4]

During the 1980s, Japan had a major influx of migrants who became important as foreign workers. Even though, another group of immigrants arrived in the country after that and they called ‘newcomer’, which included Indochinese refugees, Asian and Middle Eastern labourers, but the most significantly group were from Latin America. [5]

A report released by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, called Status of Reporting on Employment Situation of Foreigners, in 2013, showed a different situation. It was reported that only 18.5 percent of total number of foreign workers living in Japan, have a residential status and work in specialized and technical areas. In the other hand, the percentage of unskills workers is the 17 percent of the total, which include part time workers and individuals that hold a student visa. Most of them are Japanese ancestry from Brazil and Peru, which in many cases do an unskills works in Japanese factories, mostly in the manufacturing sector. [6]

However, Japan face a demographic problem, which the Japanese government estimate that in 2060 the country’s population could shrink from 127 million to 87 million, with 40 percent aged 65 or older. And despite of the obvious solution to solve this situation, like adopting policies that are more flexible to immigration and raising the fertility rate, Japan has a delicate issue that difficult such policies, the Japan’s traditional homogeneity. [7]

Even though the Japanese government recognize the country’s demographic problem, the Japanese authorities still very reluctant to make dramatically changes to immigrants’ policies.

However, despite of that, in 2015 a revealing incident took place in Japan, a conservative columnist from the newspaper Sankei, Ayako Sono, wrote on her column about the ‘pro-apartheid’ in Japan, which she defends the idea that allowing immigrants to work in Japan would be beneficial, although she believes that immigrants can do business, research, and socialize with each other, however they should live separately. [8] Despite of the very outrage tone of her column, the Japanese people suprisely act very indifferent to such article, which demonstrated how reluctant Japanese are in the issue of immigration in the country, and therefore, shows how Japan doesn’t has open doors, which in a long term could bring more challenges and for that reason new policies should be considered.


3 comentários sobre “Japan and the Immigration Issue

  1. It seems that Japan has never welcomed any immigrants from its past and is still holding that sentiment. Japan has become one of the largest economy but we are also aware that Japan has the high old aged population which in future might hamper its growth. Japan is very aware of this demographic problem and welcoming immigrants can help to sort out this problem but it is surprising to see how Japan is ignorant and reluctant to make changes in its demographic policies. I would like to see how long Japan will be indifferent to its problem andwhat initatives it will take in near future.


  2. With Japan’s aging population it would be beneficial for them to allow for the natural flow of migration to integrate with the younger population, boosting the work force. Their policy will end up blocking their economic growth if they don’t acknowledge that globalization is inevitable and goes hand in hand with migration.


  3. If Japan is not opening doors for immigrants , the country has to do something to increase population, because a country can not function properly with an aging population. I believe in the future the country will consider policy reformation to attract talent from overseas to keep their economy stable.


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