“It’s almost taboo to raise the issue of mass immigration here,” [Hidenori Sakanaka, former head of the Tokyo Immigration Bureau] says.
“Japan has no experience of this, only of sending people abroad. Modern Japan almost totally shuts out foreigners and the only people who debate the issue are specialists. Nobody is even researching it.”
“A lot of people see the advertisements ? and think it will be like schoolroom teaching and lots of fun, but when you get here it is more like doing factory line work,” he says. “The whole teaching-English-in-Japan thing is a complete fraud and the experience can be quite bitter.”
But for anyone set on working in Japan, the Nova language school should be the last option, he says.
Hiroshi Okuda, chairman of the influential Japan Business Federation, said Monday Japan should accept foreign laborers “in all business categories” to cope with a shortage of labor in the near future.
As Japan’s labor population will begin to decrease by 1 million a year after 2010, it will be difficult to overcome a resultant labor shortage…
Louis Carlet, deputy general secretary of the 2,600-member National Union of General Workers Tokyo Nambu (to which some Japan Times employees belong), agreed. It is always those women in less stable situations who bear the brunt of negative trends in the economy, he said.
“When companies downsize, or when they shift toward fixed-term contracts, the first target, in my experience, is women,” he said. “That is because there is still a mentality that real workers are men.”
Two colleges, one in Fukuoka Prefecture and the other in Tokyo, have stopped requiring non-Japanese applicants to submit identification certificates, following complaints that it is a discriminatory practice, school officials said Thursday.
Kyushu Dental College in Kitakyushu, Fukuoka Prefecture, made the decision after a South Korean resident of Japan complained to the college that the requirement was discriminatory. After consulting with the education ministry, the college decided to eliminate the requirement next day. Tokyo-based Showa University received a similar complaint last month and eliminated the requirement, it said.
400 foreigners in a simultaneous demonstration seeking job security and an end to discrimination.
The Asahi Shimbun reported on the web Sunday evening and in their morning print edition. In fact, many of the Asahi’s “400 foreigners” were Japanese, who joined foreigners in what is the beginning of a civil rights movement in Japan. The Japan Times also ran an AP photo on Monday, captioned:
Demonstrators demand job security and equal job opportunities for foreigners during a march Sunday in Tokyo in which some 300 foreigners and Japanese union members took part.
About 1.9 million foreigners are registered in Japan. Combined with illegal entries, non-Japanese make up 1.5 percent of Japan?s population, a tiny proportion compared to immigrant populations in Europe and North America. The challenges so familiar to officials in the US, Europe and Australia are thus relatively new in Japan.
Official policy has not come to terms with the labor deficit, and without government action, employers will meet the growing demand for workers with illegal immigrants. Business voices, such as the Keidanren (Japan Business Federation) and Toyota Chairman Hiroshi Okuda, have called for importing foreign labor. Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and legislators must decide whether to open the gates to mass immigration or prepare for a markedly shrunken economy. Yet recent central government initiatives focus on controlling or expelling those foreigners already here. In June, to better monitor foreign residents, officials announced a plan that could require them to carry IC chip identification.
Most people, when they first arrive, work at a place like Nova, probably the biggest employer of native English teachers in the world. By dint of their overseas recruiting programme, NO-VAcation (as we called it when I worked there) is the first employer for many arriving in Japan. But even this has changed. Recently, after a long struggle with the local General Union, it was forced to provide its full-time teachers with health, pension and unemployment benefits.
United Nations Special Rapporteur Doudou Diène’s report on his official mission to survey racial discrimination and xenophobia in Japan has been published by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. His recommendations include:
94. The Government should adopt appropriate measures to guarantee that foreigners are treated equally in Japan. It should avoid the adoption of any measure that would discriminate against them in the fields of employment, social security, housing, etc., as well as in the exercise of all their rights and freedoms, in particular their freedom to move, to access public places and their right not to be persecuted and perceived as potentially more dangerous than the Japanese. Situations such as blatant refusal to foreigners for them to access public places are totally unacceptable in a democratic country and should not be allowed.
[LDP lawmaker and former trade minister Takeo Hiranuma] warned the reform could corrupt the Imperial line, which he said has been the supreme symbol of Japanese national and ethnic identity for centuries.
“If Aiko becomes the reigning empress and gets involved with a blue-eyed foreigner while studying abroad and marries him, their child may be the emperor,” Hiranuma told about 40 lawmakers, academics and supporters at a Tokyo hall. “We should never let that happen.”