Fundamentally, [Hidenori] Sakanaka [former head of the Tokyo Immigration Bureau] argues, the issue before Japan is what kind of country it wants to become by the middle of this century: a “big” country or a “small” country. Becoming a Big Country means accepting, by 2050, roughly 20 million immigrants in order to maintain current economic levels of prosperity. The alternative is to become a Small Country, let the population drop to about 100 million, keep most foreigners out, and use robots to do some of the work often done by immigrants elsewhere.
To achieve the goal of becoming a Big Country, Sakanaka advocates the establishment of an Immigration Ministry, a separate government organ with full ministerial powers that would be responsible for all aspects of Japan’s immigration policy, as well as the immigrants themselves once they have arrived and until they have obtained Japanese citizenship. Sakanaka basically favors Japan becoming a Big Country, not just for economic reasons but to serve as the “Canada of Asia”, a multicultural, multiethnic salad bowl of a country where people of all races and creeds can feel comfortable.