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'Only immigrants can save Japan'

January 8, 2013 By MICHAEL HOFFMAN Special to The Japan Times

Japan as we know it is doomed. Only a re olution can sa e it. !hat kind o" re olution# Japan must $ecome %a nation o" immi&rants.% That's a hard sell in this notoriously closed country. Salesman(in(chie" ) surprisin&ly enou&h ) is a retired Justice *inistry $ureaucrat named +idenori Sakanaka, "ormer head o" the ministry's Tokyo ,mmi&ration Bureau and current e-ecuti e director o" the Japan ,mmi&ration .olicy ,nstitute, a pri ate think tank he "ounded in 200/. ,t's an unlikely resume "or a sower o" re olution. Sakanaka clearly sees himsel" as such. +is "re0uent use o" the word %re olution% su&&ests a clear sense o" swimmin& a&ainst the current. Other words he "a ors ) %utopia,% %panacea% ) su&&est the isionary. %Japan as we know it% is in trou$le on many "ronts. The 1reat 2ast Japan 2arth0uake o" *arch 11, 2011, and the su$se0uent tsunami and nuclear disasters, struck a nation whose economy had $een sta&nant "or 20 years while politicians "iddled and &o ernment "loundered. But that's not Sakanaka's point. +e is "ocused on demo&raphics. %Japan,% he said in a recent telephone inter iew, %is on the $rink o" collapse.% The nation's population peaked at 128 million in 2003 and has $een in acceleratin& decline since. By 2040, the &o ernment's 5ational ,nstitute o" .opulation and Social .olicy 6esearch estimates, 30 percent o" Japanese people will $e 74 or o er. Twenty(three percent already are, as a&ainst a mere 13 percent a&ed 14 and under. The $irthrate is 1.3 children per woman, one o" the world's lowest. The population is set to drop to 80 million within 40 years9 to 30 million within a century. 5o nation, $arrin& war or pla&ue, has e er shrunk at such a pace, and as "or a&in&, there are no historical precedents o" any kind. The nation needs a "ountain o" youth. Sakanaka claims to ha e "ound one. Japan, he said, %must welcome 10 million immi&rants $etween now and 2040.% %: nation o" immi&rants% is not somethin& Japan has e er aspired to $e. ;or 240 years "rom the early 1/th century it was 0uite literally a %closed country% (sakoku). 2nterin& or lea in& without special and rare authority were capital o""enses. Then came the armed incursion o" <.S. 5a y %Black Ships% in 1843 ) which led, within 14 years, to the pell(mell pursuit o" !esterni=ation. Japan's "orei&n($orn population today, hi&her than e er $e"ore at 1./ percent o" the total, compares with an a era&e 10 percent in other de eloped nations ) 12 percent in the <nited States. 6e"u&ees ha e $een cold(shouldered to an e-tent widely re&arded as dis&race"ul.

>et this is the country o" which Sakanaka wrote ?in an essay last year titled %.aths to a Japanese(style ,mmi&rant 5ation%@A %: new Japanese ci ili=ation will reali=e a multi(ethnic community, which no nation has e er achie ed, and, in due course, it will stand out as one o" the main pillars o" world ci ili=ation.% +e is ri&ht that no nation has e er achie ed it. 2 en the <.S., which is proud to call itsel" a %nation o" immi&rants,% has ne er $een "ree "rom racial and cultural "rictions. +e is ri&ht, too, to maintain that a Japan that does achie e it will $e %new% ) so new, in "act, that a reader mi&ht reasona$ly wonderA !ill it still $e Japan# +ere is where talk o" re olution comes in. %,n Japan in the a&e o" population decline,% Sakanaka writes, %there is a need "or a social re olution e0ual to that o" the *eiBi 6estoration% ) the moderni=in& and !esterni=in& re olution that $e&an in 1878. %The ery "undamentals o" our way o" li"e, the ethnic composition o" our country and our socio( economic system will ha e to $e reconsidered and a new country constructed.% To those Japanese ) the ast maBority ) who desire no such national reconstruction, Sakanaka pleads, %, $elie e the ?re(creation@ o" Japan as an immi&rant nation is the ultimate re"orm, which will ser e as a panacea "or the challen&es "acin& the country.% Chan&in& tone, he deli ers a 0uasi(ultimatumA %The Japanese should $ecome aware that they li e in an era o" a se ere population crisis and that it is no lon&er possi$le to li e in peace in a closed world only amon& Japanese nationals. There is no way "or Japan to sur i e $ut to $uild a society o" li in& with immi&rants and hoistin& a new "la&A ',mmi&rants !elcome.' % Other thinkers hoist other "la&s. ,n 2008, Saitama <ni ersity economist 1oro Ono pu$lished a $ook titled %:cceptin& ;orei&n !orkers Spoils Japan.% The "indin&s o" an :sahi Shim$un newspaper poll o" 3,000 readers in 2010 su&&est Ono is closer to the popular mood than Sakanaka. :sked i" they would accept lar&e(scale immi&ration in the interests o" re i in& Japan, 74 percent o" respondents said no9 27 percent yes. ?%*ore in the yes camp than , would ha e e-pected,% Sakanaka 0uipped durin& our inter iew.@ Once Japan actually did set o"" down Sakanaka's road ) only to hastily dou$le $ack ia Ono's. That was in the late 1880s and early '80s, when the $u$$le economy was e-pandin& to its imminent $urstin& point and Japan's la$or(hun&ry "actories were workin& "ull tilt. The nation's "irst(e er mass(immi&ration pro&ram welcomed some 300,000 Japanese(Bra=ilians to plu& the &ap. O""icials who had had assumed the Bra=ilians' Japanese ancestry would smooth the transition were soon disillusioned. The Bra=ilian culture o" e-u$erance clashed with the nati e culture o" restraint. The lan&ua&e $arrier pro ed hard to $reach. Dids with minimal Japanese dropped out o" school9 some turned to crime. : salsa $oom in Japan $ecame a sym$ol o" the cultural cross("ertili=ation some had hoped would come more naturally, $ut $y 2008 the e-periment was o er. The &o ernment o""ered to pay mi&rants' air "ares $ack to Bra=il ) i" they a&reed in writin& not to try to return to Japan to work. Ono's solution to the challen&es posed $y depopulation and the a&in& society is to adapt to them ) $y "ittin& the a$le($odied old into the la$or "orce, and $y de elopin& ro$ots and other la$or(sa in& technolo&y. Sakanaka, too, in his 2004 $ook %5yukan Senki% ?%,mmi&ration Battle Eiary%@, had en isa&ed somethin& similar. +e called it the %small Japan% option. ,t would turn Japan into a sort o" 21st(century pre(*eiBi $ackwater. Fi"e would $e less "renetic $ut possi$ly deeper and more meanin&"ul. +e's chan&ed his mind. ,n his :pril 2012 $ook, %Jinko +okai to ,min Daikaku% ?%.opulation Breakdown and the ,mmi&rant 6e olution%@ he compares the slu&&ish pace o" reconstruction since *arch 2011 with the rapid reco ery "rom much &reater destruction a"ter !orld !ar ,,.

%2 en $e"ore 3G11,% he writes, %it was apparent in numerous re&ions that the Japanese on their own could not mana&e the economy and society. So much the more so now. There is no way the Japanese alone can re$uild re&ional industries destroyed in the disaster.% +ence his plan "or an %immi&ration society% in ol in& an or&ani=ed e olution ) or re olution ) in which the newcomers would not $e mere &uest workers or &uest students. %: country under&oin& population decline does not need temporary "orei&n workers,% he writes. %,t needs immi&rants.% They would come to stay ) as Japanese(resident, Japanese(educated, Japanese(employed Japanese citi=ens, no di""erent in their ri&hts, opportunities and responsi$ilities "rom the nati e($orn. :nd they would come "rom all o er the world not Bust a hand"ul o" countries, Sakanaka stresses. %This is a &randiose proBect that will trans"orm the Japanese archipela&o into a miniature o" the world community,% he declares, %a utopia to which people "rom all around the world dream o" mi&ratin&.% ,t sounds "antastic, and in "act, Sakanaka acknowled&es, would re0uire le&islation now lackin& ) anti( discrimination laws a$o e all. <ltimately, he $elie es, an in"lu- o" hi&hly skilled "orei&n nationals trained in Japan will $e the sal ation o" se eral totterin& industries. :&riculture, "or e-ample. Eoes a&riculture ha e a ia$le "uture otherwise# +e thinks not and o""ers "i&ures to pro e itA Japan's "armin& population declined $y /40,000 to 2.7 million in the "i e years to 20109 their a era&e a&e is 74.8. ;isheries and manu"acturin&, he says, "ace similar attrition. %.eople are startin& to understand,% he told The Japan Times, %that this can't continue.% +e added, a little rue"ully, %, can't e-actly say that the plan ,' e $een ad ocatin& o er the past three years has &enerated much enthusiasm.% ,n "act, %,ntellectuals and politicians $asically i&nore me.% 6e olutionaries learn to li e with that, "irm in the con iction that their time will come.

Japan household helper plan sho s immigration dilemma

Tue, Dec 10 2013 - Reuters


By Fisa Twaronite
TOD>O ?6euters@ ( Eurin& the early days o" %:$enomics,% <.S. $usinesses were optimistic they could con ince Japan's &o ernment to make a small chan&e to the nation's ti&ht immi&ration rules to let more household helpers into the country. But a year a"ter .rime *inister Shin=o :$e took o""ice, an idea that some thou&ht mi&ht $e an easy win "or immi&ration re"orm while meetin& a stated aim o" :$e's &rowth strate&y has made no apparent pro&ress.

," :$e's &o ernment dra&s its "eet on one small step, it su&&ests scant prospects "or any $roader measures to let in "orei&n workers any time soon ( which many e-perts say will $e necessary "or Japan to sustain its economic &rowth in the "ace o" a rapidly shrinkin& work"orce. %Japan needs to let in more "orei&n workers to sol e its population pro$lem,% said +idenori Sakanaka, "ormer head o" the Tokyo ,mmi&ration Bureau. %Fettin& in more domestic workers is Bust a small part o" the $i& picture, $ut it mi&ht make a $i& di""erence to the people who employ them.% The proposal has $een discussed $y three ministries, people "amiliar with the process say, althou&h :$e has not pu$licly mentioned the idea. Foosenin& isa re0uirements "or domestic helpers could allow more Japanese women to return to "ull(time work, proponents say. That is one &oal in a $roader :$e strate&y to &et Japan on the path o" sta$le economic e-pansion a"ter almost two decades o" de$ilitatin& de"lation and slu&&ish &rowth. But a"ter :$e won plaudits "or pushin& a&&ressi e "iscal and monetary e-pansion a"ter comin& to power last Eecem$er, reaction to his lon&er(term economic &rowth plans has $een less enthusiastic. +is immi&ration(re"orm plans would make it easier "or hi&hly skilled immi&rants to &et work isas and cut the time needed to 0uali"y "or permanent residency. This "alls short o" the comprehensi e steps needed to address the country's shrinkin& $irthrate and $ur&eonin& elderly population, e-perts say.

!A"IN# JO$% : 0uarter o" Japan's population is already o er 74, and that will increase to almost 30 percent $y 2040. Ominously, the num$er o" people a&ed 18 to 23 has shrunk $y nearly a third o er the past two decades. Japan will need 10 million immi&rants o er the ne-t hal" century to o""set its proBected population decline, said Sakanaka, who "ounded the Japan ,mmi&ration .olicy ,nstitute think tank a"ter retirin& "rom the $ureaucracy. O""icials say chan&es will take time and mi&ht not $e as easy as they appear on the sur"ace. %Be"ore Japan decides to let in more "orei&n workers "or certain Bo$s, we must "irst determine whether there are Japanese citi=ens who could do such Bo$s,% said >usuke Takeuchi, deputy plannin& director in the ,mmi&ration Bureau at Japan's *inistry o" Justice. The tan&le o" issues in ol ed in employin& "orei&n workers as housekeepers or nannies helps to illustrate the la$yrinthine task Japan would "ace i" it were to try to tackle much $roader immi&ration re"orm. There are no clear statistics on the num$er o" "orei&n household helpers in Japan as many are workin& in"ormally and those workin& le&ally, do so under a $road isa cate&ory. But "orei&n workers themsel es say their num$ers are shrinkin&. %,t has &otten much harder since , "irst came in 1880 on a tourist isa to look "or work,% said a 78(year( old housekeeper "rom the .hilippines. She has a work isa ( $ut on a passport $earin& her dead sister's name. She said she was "orced to lea e Japan a "ew years a&o $ecause authorities learnt she was no lon&er employed $y her pre ious isa sponsor. So she said she was "orced to resort to usin& her late sister's un$lemished paperwork to &et $ack into Japan. +er employer, an :merican e-ecuti e, had hoped to hire a Japanese housekeeper. %, couldn't "ind anyone who would commit to "ull(time work and was willin& to per"orm multiple Bo$ duties, "rom childcare to cleanin& to marketin&,% she said. :$e's plan to &et more women workin& "ocuses on e-pandin& the num$er o" daycare centers. But Japanese women are "indin& that daycare centers do not stay open to match the lon& hours they need to adopt to compete in a male(dominated workplace. Japanese domestic(help ser ices e-ist, $ut many limit the hours and duties o" their workers.

%MIN&'$O##LIN#( ;orei&n helpers tend to $e willin& to work "or less and are more "le-i$le, $ut only "orei&n diplomats and e-patriates with an elite isa status can o""er le&al isa sponsorship and employment. %The "act that ,, as an :merican national and a "orei&ner, can sponsor a "orei&n domestic helper, yet my Japanese peers cannot, is Bust mind($o&&lin&,% said "athy Matsui (Remember her from the Womenomics video?), chie" Japan strate&ist at 1oldman Sachs. She estimates that raisin& women's participation in the la$or "orce to 80 percent, matchin& men, could li"t Japan's &ross domestic product $y as much as 13 percent. %The demand is clearly there, the supply e-ists, $ut &i en all o" the strict immi&ration rules here, Japan is not the o$ ious destination "or many o" these domestic helpers,% *atsui said. %,t's as i" the &o ernment is pre entin& these supply and demand cur es "rom meetin&.% <nderlinin& the point, Japanese and "orei&n domestic workers comprise less than 0.1 percent o" the la$or "orce, the ,nternational Fa$or Or&ani=ation, a <nited 5ations a&ency, estimates. That compares with a$out 0.4 percent in the <nited States and /./ percent in +on& Don&. The :merican Cham$er o" Commerce in Japan ur&ed the &o ernment in June to re ise its immi&ration laws to let citi=ens and permanent residents with household incomes o" / million yen ?H78,200@ or more to sponsor household help. %," you keep the doors open, there are &oin& to $e, le&itimately, Japanese youn& "amilies who will $e a$le to employ "orei&n domestic workers,% said Dumi Sato, president and chie" e-ecuti e o" pu$lic relations "irm Cosmo in Tokyo, an author o" the <.S. $usiness proposal. She said some Japanese "amilies already hire "orei&n workers ille&ally, so the chan&e would help le&itimi=e some e-istin& arran&ements that "all into &rey areas. ?H1I102./1 yen@

&rastic change in immigration policy o)) the Japanese election agenda

?SourceA 2ast :sia ;orum ( 21 July 2013@ :uthorA ,wao 5akatani, *itsu$ishi <;J 6esearch, Tokyo :nythin& short o" a maBor re ersal in JapanJs population &rowth will see JapanJs population decline dramatically, e-acer$ated $y a "allin& $irthrate and a&ein& society. ;or this reason, JapanJs $asic immi&ration policy ) to welcome Khi&hly skilled "orei&n pro"essionalsJ like researchers and skilled workers while stron&ly re&ulatin& the entry o" unskilled la$our ) is in need o" desperate re"orm.

5ational ,nstitute o" .opulation and Social Security research proBects that the current population o" 12/ million will $e 83 million in "i e decadesJ time. The workin&(a&e population ?14L73@ will apparently "all $y nearly hal" "rom todayJs le el o" 80 million to 32 million. ,n short, 40 years "rom now, not only will the population ha e "allen dramatically $ut the la$our("orce population will ha e "allen e en "aster. The num$er o" elderly people 74 and o er will amount to 30 per cent o" the population, causin& su$stantial strain on JapanJs workers to sustain the non( workin& population. ;or Japan, accumulatin& hi&hly skilled "orei&n pro"essionals has $een more di""icult than e-pected. This is made challen&in& $ecause Japan has "ew "eatures that can $e considered appealin& to "orei&ners as a mi&ration destination, includin& a hi&hly homo&enous country with a lan&ua&e $arrier that makes it di""icult "or mi&rants to ha e a rich social li"e. ,n *ay 2012, lookin& to respond to its immi&ration short"alls, Japan introduced the Kpoints system "or hi&hly(skilled "orei&n pro"essionalsJ, usin& :ustraliaJs system as a role model. .oints were calculated accordin& to "actors like a&e, pre ious work e-perience, academic 0uali"ications, annual wa&e and passin& the Japanese Fan&ua&e .ro"iciency Test. ;or people scorin& a$o e /0 points, immi&ration re0uirements were rela-ed $y so"tenin& conditions on recei in& permanent residency and makin& it possi$le "or immi&rants to $rin& household help or parents with them. The result was a "ailure, and the num$er o" hi&hly skilled "orei&n workers attracted $y the policy amounted to merely one 0uarter o" the planned 2000 per year. The :$e ca$inet is tryin& to increase the num$er o" hi&hly skilled mi&rants $y rela-in& the conditions in the points system "urther, $ut at this sta&e it is impossi$le to Bud&e whether this will ha e any meanin&"ul e""ect. This is not to say that it is impossi$le to increase mi&ration, and one potential source o" skilled mi&rants is those who already ha e a deep interest in Japan. The $i&&est $arrier mi&rants "ace to inte&ration into Japanese society is the Japanese lan&ua&e, and so it is important to make it easier "or those already interested in Japan and its lan&ua&e to mi&rate to the country. :ccordin& to the Japan ;oundation, in 2008 the num$er o" people studyin& Japanese worldwide was 3.74 million and risin&. These students are, "or one reason or another, people with an interest in Japan. Some are interested in $usiness while many youn& people are attracted to Japanese culture, includin& anime and those thin&s that ha e come to $e known as KCool JapanJ. The num$er o" people around the world who take the Japanese Fan&ua&e .ro"iciency Test each year has also risen to 700,000. These are the people to whom the Japanese &o ernment should $e completely openin& its door.

," Japan does not halt its "allin& $irth rate and at the same time drastically increase immi&ration, it will, un0uestiona$ly, come to walk the path o" a nation in decline. Can Japan success"ully encoura&e capa$le people in "orei&n countries to immi&rate to Japan# :s well as this, can the Japanese people $e encoura&ed to ha e more children# The answers remain unclear. :las, policy inno ation around these most(important and di""icult o" 0uestions is not "ound within :$enomics, e en i" it has captured the attention o" the Japanese people and the world. rofessor !"ao #akatani is $hairman, %oard of $ounci&ors at 'itsubishi ()* Research and $onsu&tin+ $o and former $hairman of ,on-.

Overhaul Japan*s immigration la s to +oost or,ing omen

by Kumi Sato
Special To The Japan Times ?*ay 30, 2013@ The two most important policies in :$enomicsJ Mthird arrowN ) structural re"orm ) are increasin& la$or mo$ility and keepin& more women in the la$or "orce so that they can help raise JapanJs 1E.. These two issues are linked at the hip, and the economic potential that could $e unlocked is ast. :ma=in&ly the $i&&est reason is that JapanJs "emale population still remains lar&ely untapped as a source o" economic &rowth. :ccordin& to a 1oldman Sachs study, i" Japan could increase its employment rate to match its male employment rate o" 80 percent, its work"orce could potentially e-pand $y 8.2 million people, $oostin& 1E. $y as much as 13 percent. >et without enou&h "easi$le options to mana&e $oth child care and work responsi$ilities, many women will continue to opt out o" the la$or "orce Bust when they are hittin& stride ) a loss Japan cannot a""ord when its population is shrinkin&. To his credit, .rime *inister Shin=o :$e hi&hli&hted women as a Mcentral keyN to JapanJs producti ity when un eilin& his &rowth strate&y. :$e called "or the creation o" more child(care centers, the elimination o" waitin& lists, and e en asked companies to oluntarily e-tend maternity lea e "rom the current 18 months up to a ma-imum o" three years. There is e en discussion a$out ta- deducti$ility "or child care and domestic help costs. These would all $e steps in the ri&ht direction. ," more Japanese women can &et their careers $ack on track a"ter &i in& $irth, they will not only help slow lon&(term demo&raphic shrinka&e, $ut they will also $oost 1E. while increasin& "uture ta- re enues and easin& JapanJs "iscal dilemma. :t the same time, their peers will also &ain con"idence that they too can ha e children and return to work, there$y creatin& a irtuous cycle. ,n JapanJs case, the impact o" this shi"t, and o" $etter work(li"e $alance in &eneral, would $e massi e. :ccordin&ly, no stone should $e le"t unturned in the search "or e""ecti e measures. But one doesnJt ha e to think ery "ar Mout o" the $o-N to "ind policies that can $e easily implemented. The use o" "orei&n Mdomestic helpersN is an o$ ious case in point.

,n +on& Don& and Sin&apore, it is common "or "amilies to hire a "orei&n domestic helper to look a"ter the children, as well as to assist with housework. This is dou$ly ad anta&eous in "reein& up women to seek employment $ecause they are also a$le to o""(load some o" their domestic work <n"ortunately, this practice is almost unheard o" in Japan, and in "act is not e en le&ally possi$le "or Japanese citi=ens or permanent residents. !hy# Because JapanJs anti0uated immi&ration re&ulations only permit "orei&ners with a certain isa status ?such as MdiplomatN or Min estorG$usiness mana&erN@ to MsponsorN "orei&n domestic helpers. By simply rela-in& irrational immi&ration laws like these, the :$e administration could easily &i e Japanese women an entirely new option "or child(care support, instead o" ha in& to endlessly wait "or day(care positions to open up. *oreo er, this is one option that would not cost the Japanese &o ernment a sin&le yen in su$sidies. Ouite the contrary, it would increase ta- re enues and 1E., $ecause domestic helpers and workin& women $oth pay ta-es, and usually consume more than a sin&le housewi"e. ,n many ways helpers are more supporti e o" a workin& womanJs needs than child(care centers. ;or e-ample, the operatin& hours o" many day(care centers are incon enient "or women with "ull(time Bo$s, $ut a helperJs hours can $e tailored to the needs o" the "amily. :side "rom child care, "orei&n domestic workers are necessary to "ill the se ere shorta&e o" nurses and other elderly care&i ers that JapanJs a&in& society "aces. This supply(demand &ap is already lar&e today, and ine ita$ly will &row lar&er as the society a&es "urther and the lon&(term increase in the num$er o" sin&le(child "amilies takes its toll. ?:ctually, this particular &ap isnJt Bust a$out women. *any male sin&le children will also end up ha in& to take care o" their a&in& parents, thus creatin& e en more demand "or "orei&n domestic workers.@ ,t is hi&h time "or Japan to tackle these issues proacti ely, on $oth a cultural and national policy le el. Deepin& women in the la$or "orce is no lon&er Bust a MwomenJs issue,N $ut rather an issue o" the hi&hest national ur&ency. !ith luck, the sense o" that ur&ency will not $e lost a"ter the <pper +ouse election this July, when :$e plans to turn his attention to constitutional re"orm. Dumi Sato is president o" Cosmo, JapanJs lar&est independent pu$lic a""airs and strate&ic communications "irm.

In'Class -riting Assignment. /ead all the articles provided a+out immigration policies in Japan and e0press your reactions and any opinions you have a+out them1 -hat are the upsides and do nsides o) increased immigration2 &o you +elieve immigration re)orm is possi+le given the attitudes o) the current society2 Ho might Japan change i) it rela0ed its immigration policies2 -hy might people oppose an increase in immigration2 -hen possi+le3 use )acts3 4uotes3 or statistics given in the articles to support your opinions1