JT/Kyodo: Immigration Bureau to be upgraded to Immigration Agency April 2019. Baby steps towards Immigration Ministry with actual immigration policy?

mytest

Books, eBooks, and more from Dr. Debito Arudou (click on icon):
Guidebookcover.jpgjapaneseonlyebookcovertextHandbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)sourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumbFodorsJapan2014cover
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Hi Blog. The GOJ is starting to take NJ influx more seriously now, with a ministerial upgrade (from Bureau to Agency). When it becomes a full-fledged Ministry that explicitly says “Immigration” in it (as in, Imin-Shou), not a “Bureau/Agency for Processing National Influx” (which is what the Nyuukoku Kanri Kyoku literally is), with an actual Immigration Policy, then Debito.org will be a bit more cheery.  That raises hope that the GOJ will someday actually want NJ to stay and become productive members of society and citizens, not revolving-door visa recipients.  But baby steps for now. What say Debito.org Readers about this? Dr. Debito Arudou

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Japan will overhaul Immigration Bureau to create agency for expected surge of blue-collar workers under new status
BY SAKURA MURAKAMI. THE JAPAN TIMES/KYODO, AUG 28, 2018
Full article at https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/08/28/national/politics-diplomacy/japan-set-immigration-agency-cope-influx-blue-collar-ranks-abroad-new-status/

The Justice Ministry will upgrade its Immigration Bureau to an agency from April to deal with an anticipated influx of foreign workers, Justice Minister Yoko Kamikawa said at a news conference in Tokyo on Tuesday.

With the government seeking to accept more foreign workers from April and introducing a new status of residence amid a serious labor crunch across industries, the Justice Ministry will be conducting “a fundamental revision of the Immigration Bureau” and is currently finalizing the establishment of a new agency that will oversee immigration, Kamikawa said. […]

Media has reported that the upgrade of the bureau will see an increase of over 500 ministry staff and immigration officers, with the latter expected to help the country boost checks for inbound tourists ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.

Reports have also said that the ministry will be requesting about ¥3 billion within their fiscal 2019 budget for outlays related to the overhaul. […]

The upgrade of the Immigration Bureau comes as Japan, facing a declining population and shrinking workforce, plans to open the door to blue-collar laborers from abroad, in addition to the currently accepted highly skilled foreigners, by introducing a new resident status.

The new system will allow foreign nationals who are proficient speakers of Japanese to work in agriculture, construction, hospitality, nursing and shipbuilding, and may be expanded to other sectors.

The government has so far confirmed that foreign workers will not be able to bring family members under the new residency status, and that their stay will be limited to five years.

According to figures provided by the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry, the number of registered foreign workers in the nation hit a record high of 1.28 million in October 2017 — a twofold increase from the 486,398 foreign nationals seen in 2008.

On the other hand, the number of people in Japan aged between 15 to 64 who are capable of working decreased from 86.99 million in 1997 to 76.65 million in 2016, according to data submitted to the Council of Economic Fiscal Policy in February.

Information from Kyodo News added. Full article at https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/08/28/national/politics-diplomacy/japan-set-immigration-agency-cope-influx-blue-collar-ranks-abroad-new-status/

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TJ on “Doing a Debito”: Gaijin Carded at Nagoya Airport and Airport Comfort Inn

mytest

Books, eBooks, and more from Dr. Debito Arudou (click on icon):
Guidebookcover.jpgjapaneseonlyebookcovertextHandbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)sourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumbFodorsJapan2014cover
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Hi Blog.  Every now and again I hear from people how Debito.org has been helpful in dealing with daily life in Japan.  Here’s one such example.  After more than twenty years of the Debito.org Archive, and ten years of the Debito.org Blog, things like this make it all worth it.  Thanks for writing in, TJ.  Dr. Debito Arudou

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To: debito@debito.org
From: TJ
Date: August 12, 2018
Subject: Well, I put on my Debito hat today!

I’m an American married to a Japanese, and we’re on an adventure doing standby flights from Japan to overseas. However, unluckily we got bumped at Nagoya Airport. So we checked into a Comfort Inn at the airport in my (Japanese) spouse’s name.

He filled out the card for our twin room. But the receptionist looked at me and said that she needed to photocopy my passport. But I know from Debito.org that she doesn’t have the legal obligation to photocopy my passport, or even see any ID, when I have a Japanese address as a Japanese resident, and I told her so. So she said she needed to copy my “Gaijin Card”, or Zairyuu Residence Card.

I gave her a chotto matte kudasai… and dug out that nifty Japanese paper you posted on Debito.org years ago and I held it up to her to read, showing her the letter of the law that says that ID is only required for tourists, not for residents of Japan, including foreign residents.

(http://www.debito.org/whatif-id-check.doc
from http://www.debito.org/residentspage.html#checkpoints)

Another receptionist came over to investigate, and I repeated that I live in Japan permanently. Basically, the other woman’s attitude was since my Japanese spouse was with me, I didn’t have to hand any ID to be photocopied. Because I’m “one of the good ones”. Not a win, but I don’t think she expected me to stand my ground the way I did.

I cannot understand why they need my most intimate and personal information photocopied. What is done with it later? How is it disposed of? It seems like a waste of paper, toner, etc., and because of identity theft, it makes me really nervous.

So… fresh off this experience, we went out to dinner at Nagoya Airport. The hotel is connected so we went back over. My spouse popped into a shop to get toiletries and I sat down in a public chair to wait.

A security guard — I wasn’t sure if he was a police officer, but my spouse later thinks he was — came up and said he was randomly checking passengers’ passports.

Well, I answered in fluent Japanese, which I think he did not expect and threw him off. I explained I am staying at a hotel at the airport and am with a friend who is in the shop over there and we are having dinner. I didn’t have a passport, so I flashed my Zairyuu Residence Card.

But that wasn’t enough. He said he needed me to remove it from my wallet so he could make a written “memo”.

Now, I’m a pretty easygoing person. But at this point my aggressive alter ego, I call him “Pinky”, came out and refused to comply. Pinky told him he was targeting only foreigners, and that wasn’t right, even from a legal standpoint. And at that point my spouse walked up, but could see Pinky had taken over and stepped back to let us handle it.

The security guard eventually backed down, but again, I know it’s because a Japanese was with me. He tried to compliment my Japanese but Pinky wasn’t having it. Pinky told him that I have lived in Japan longer than he has. He was some 20 year old kid who has a tin badge and hat, and thinks he can boss people around and invade their privacy without just cause.

So, I went over to a comment box for Nagoya Airport and wrote a lengthy complaint. It probably won’t even get read, but it made me feel better. The point is, thousands of other people, including foreigners were in the vestibule, and I was basically getting targeted for “sitting while being a foreigner.” So much for kokusaika ahead of the Olympics. Geez. Not very welcoming.

These instances immediately took me back to the time some years ago when we invited you to speak at our university, and how you handled that hotel clerk who Gaijin-carded you. You knew the law and your ground. So did I. And Pinky.

Debito-sensei, arigato! — TJ.

==========================
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Trevor Noah controversy on French World Cup team: “Africa won the World Cup”. Debito.org disagrees with French Ambassador’s protest letter.

mytest

Books, eBooks, and more from Dr. Debito Arudou (click on icon):
Guidebookcover.jpgjapaneseonlyebookcovertextHandbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)sourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumbFodorsJapan2014cover
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Hi Blog. A recent storm in a teacup that happens to be germane to Debito.org is a recent “Behind the Scenes” vlog starring Trevor Noah, where he talks to his audience between takes of Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show”.

In a previous segment, he pointed out how the diverse French Soccer Team won the 2018 World Cup, what with a significant number of their players being of African origin.  But he summarized it as a joke:  “Africa won the World Cup!”  “Africa won the World Cup!”

This occasioned a letter of protest from Gerard Araud, Ambassador of France to the U.S., which Trevor read out to his studio audience. Here is the segment, followed by my commentary:

If you cannot watch the segment, it runs as follows:  First, Noah read the text of Araud’s letter (with a French accent, which was a bit corny, but that’s one of the licenses of a comedy show):

SIR– I watched with great attention your July 17 show when you spoke of the victory of the French team at the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Final which took place last Sunday. I heard your words about an “African” victory. Nothing could be less true.

(Interjected Noah: “I could have said they were Scandinavian. That would have been less true.”)

As many of the players have already stated themselves, their parents may have come from another country, but the great majority of them, all but two out of 23 were born in France. They were educated in France. They learned to play soccer in France. They are French citizens. They’re proud of their country, France. The rich and various backgrounds of these players are a reflection of France’s diversity.

(Interjected Noah: “I’m not trying to be an asshole, but I think it’s more a reflection of France’s colonialism.”)

France is indeed a cosmopolitan country. But every citizen is part of the French identity. Together they belong to the nation of France. Unlike in the United States of America, France does not refer to its citizens based on their race, religion, or origin. To us, there is no hyphenated identity. Roots are an individual reality. By calling them an African team, it seems like you’re denying their French-ness. This, even in jest, legitimizes the ideology which claims whiteness is the only definition of being French.”

There is one more paragraph to the letter, but that’s as far as Noah read.  Noah acknowledged how having dual identities is used against people to “other” them from other French. “In France, a lot of Nazis in that country use the fact that these players are of African descent to shit on their French-ness. They say, ‘You’re not French. You’re African. Go back to where you came from.’ They use that as a line of attack.”

But then he counterargued: “My opinion is, coming from South Africa, coming from Africa, and even watching the World Cup in the United States of America, black people all over the world were celebrating the African-ness of the French players. Not in a negative way, but in a positive way. They look at this Africans who CAN become French. It’s a celebration of that achievement.

“Now this is what I find weird in these arguments, when people say, ‘They’re not African. They’re French.’ And I’m like, ‘Why can’t they be both?’ Why is that duality only afforded a select group of people? Why can’t they not be African? What they’re arguing here is, ‘In order to be French, you have to erase everything that is African…?” So what are they saying when they say, ‘our culture’? So you cannot be French and African at the same time, which I vehemently disagree with… I love how African they are, and how French they are. I don’t take their French-ness away, but I also don’t think you have to take their their African-ness away.”

He concluded, “And that is what I love about America. America is not a perfect country, but what I love about this place is that people can still celebrate their identity in their American-ness. You can go to a St. Patrick’s Day Parade in America, celebrating that you are Irish. You can go to a Puerto Rican Day Parade in American and celebrate the fact that you are Puerto Rican and American at the same time. You can celebrate Juneteenth as a Black person and still go, ‘Yo, I’m AFRICAN-American,’ which is the duality of the two worlds.”

Noah cited the case of Mamoudou Gassama, a Malinese immigrant to France, who famously scaled a building to save a child that was dangling from a balcony, and used it to demonstrate how far immigrants have to go to “become French”. Gassama got to meet French President Emmanuel Macron, got French citizenship and a job.  Noah highlighted this dynamic in his own version of  the phenomenon of “They’ll claim us if we’re famous:”  “When they are unemployed, when they may commit a crime or when they are considered unsavory it’s the ‘African immigrant’. When their children go on to provide a World Cup victory for France, we should only refer to them as ‘France.’”

Noah reiterated that he will nonetheless celebrate his claim that “Africans” won the World Cup. “So, I will continue to praise them for being African because I believe that they are of Africa, their parents are from Africa and they can be French at the same time.  And if French people are saying they can’t be both, then I think that they have a problem and not me.”

@GeraldAraud responded on Twitter:

End of the argument with @Trevornoah He didn’t refer to a double identity. He said »they are African. They couldn’t get this suntan in the south of France ». i.e They can’t be French because they are black. The argument of the white supremacist. 6:02 AM – Jul 19, 2018

Which, as The Atlantic commented: “is a misreading of Noah’s argument, and of his original joke. It also cuts to the core of one of the biggest questions in Europe today: Who is allowed to define national identity — the state, or the citizens?”

=====================

COMMENT: Debito.org’s take on this is probably not hard to guess. We agree with Noah’s argument that hyphenated identities can, should, and in fact must exist.  Because a) hyphenated identities are a reality (people are diverse, and they shouldn’t have to suppress them for national goals of putative homogeneity); b) they are a personal choice, to include as one’s self-determined identity, and not the business of The State to police; and c) the alternative incurs too many abuses.

Here’s what I mean:  Legal statuses (such as French citizenship) are supposed to be something that one can earn unarbitrarily (i.e., with qualifications that apply to all applicants), and afterwards are enforced in a way that does not require one to subsume or sacrifice one’s identity in perpetuity as a “citizen-with-an-asterisk”, forever currying favor with a society’s dominant majority.  That is to say, currying favor with people who aren’t diverse themselves, and who often abuse identity politics to criticize diverse people as not being, say, “French” etc. enough.  A lack of hyphenation becomes a power game, and the immigrant who has to “hide” something is at a perpetual disadvantage, as a permanent part of her or him is effectively perceived as a negative thing.

This is something I have studied in other societies that do not accept hyphenated identities (such as Japan, where I am a naturalized citizen myself, and often accused of “not being Japanese enough” if I do anything that causes disagreement or debate — even though I am behaving just like some other “Japanese” would in the same situation). And it leads to the deracinated person expending a lifetime of energy dealing with microaggressions, and trying to please unempathetic others who never had to question, self-determine, or fight for their own identities. All of that is outlined in my book “Embedded Racism: Japan’s Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination“. (More here.)

Returning to this debate:  The abovementioned Atlantic article gives the French side of this issue I think quite well (i.e., how it is “an affront to the French ideal that all citizens are equal in the eyes of the state”), for there will always be a tension within national goals for assimilating outsiders (melting pot? salad bowl? mosaic? kaleidoscope? or no immigration policy at all, as in Japan’s case?).

But I salute Trevor Noah for dealing with this issue in a thoughtful and measured manner, and for coming out on the side that, in the long run, works out much better for all involved. Dr. Debito Arudou

=================

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GOJ sets targets for importing even more NJ temp labor, Kyodo editorializes on how badly Japan needs NJ

mytest

Books, eBooks, and more from Dr. Debito Arudou (click on icon):
Guidebookcover.jpgjapaneseonlyebookcovertextHandbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)sourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumbFodorsJapan2014cover
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Hi Blog. It’s funny. Debito.org has been charting for decades just how much Japan reflexively distrusts NJ, and wants them in and out of here as soon as possible without settling down (hence no official immigration policy). Yet, in case you wonder why this is still an issue, here’s yet another article demonstrating why Japan NEEDS NJ labor, and intends to import even more (and as ever, temporarily):

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Government sets target for 10,000 Vietnamese caregivers, needs additional 550,000 by 2025
KYODO/Japan Times JUL 25, 2018
https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/07/25/national/government-sets-target-10000-vietnamese-caregivers-needs-additional-550000-2025/

The government has set a target of accepting 10,000 Vietnamese caregivers by the summer of 2020 to address a chronic labor shortage in the nursing sector, an official said Wednesday.

Japan first aims to receive 3,000 Vietnamese carers within one year through an existing training program for foreigners, according to the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Due to the country’s rapidly graying population, the labor ministry estimates a need for an additional 550,000 caregivers in fiscal 2025 compared to the fiscal 2016 total… Japan is also considering inviting caregivers from other countries, including Indonesia and Cambodia, the official said.

As of March last year, there were roughly 1.9 million carers in Japan. The labor ministry estimates Japan will need about 2.45 million care workers in fiscal 2025, at which point the people belonging to the baby boomer generation born in the late 1940s will all be 75 years or older, meaning the need for nursing care service will almost certainly increase…

In a related development, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Tuesday that Japan aims to accept more foreign workers from April next year by creating a new residency status. To fill labor shortages not just in nursing care but also in other sectors including agriculture and manufacturing, the government has suggested it may begin admitting hundreds of thousands of blue-collar workers from abroad.

Full article at https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/07/25/national/government-sets-target-10000-vietnamese-caregivers-needs-additional-550000-2025/

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COMMENT: Oddly enough (or rather, not so oddly), Japan’s corporate sector is again asking for more cheap labor without taking into account that they are importing people, not raw materials. And of course, as argued below in the second Kyodo JT article on the same day, there is at best mumbled support for actual immigration.

This isn’t a sustainable long-term strategy, and everybody knows it. But they go through the kabuki for as long as possible. I daresay someday soon somebody will advocate Middle-Eastern-Oil-Countries’ style labor importation (where foreigners do all the work, and wind up outnumbering the leisured citizen class), since we’ve already had one major Japanese pundit crazily arguing for instituting South-African-style Apartheid in Japan. Except for one problem with ever considering an oil-economy model: Japan is not an oil economy. And again, Japan’s other silly policy balloon — robotizing society — doesn’t work either because robots don’t pay taxes.

In sum, Debito.org advocates that Japan consider a real immigration policy to make NJ migrants into permanent residents and citizens. It’s the only way, as myself and the UN (not to mention the Japanese Government itself!) have argued for decades, to avert Japan’s otherwise unavoidable demographic crisis. Dr. Debito Arudou

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Japan faces challenges as it moves to accept more foreign workers
KYODO/Japan Times JUL 25, 2018
https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/07/25/national/japan-faces-challenges-moves-accept-foreign-workers/

Japan’s move toward opening its doors to more foreign workers is widely seen as a must to better cope with an expected shrinkage in the working population.

Potentially broadening the scope of non-Japanese workers accepted into a country that for years has kept a firm grip on immigration would also mark a major policy change.

But the challenges facing an aging Japan are manifold as observers call for a clear-cut rather than makeshift approach, and stress the need to create a society easier for foreign nationals to live and work in.

“It’s a natural turn of events” to accept more foreign workers, said Yoshimitsu Kobayashi, chairman of the Japan Association of Corporate Executives.

“Given the situation Japan is in and its future, we’ve already entered a phase in which we need to seek help not just from highly skilled workers,” Kobayashi said at a news conference Tuesday.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe instructed Cabinet ministers the same day to make preparations to accept more foreign workers by offering a new residential status starting next April.

The plan being considered would set a five-year limit on residence under the new status.

That may help conservatives, a major support base for Abe, but observers say the country needs to have a serious immigration debate for its future.

The country had a record 1.28 million foreign workers as of October last year. Chinese workers made up the largest portion, at nearly 30 percent, ahead of workers from Vietnam, the Philippines and Brazil, according to government data.

Currently, there are limited paths offered to work legally. Foreign nationals are given residential status to work in fields such as education, business management, law and health care.

Those coming under a 1993 program designed to impart technical skills can also work in the country but critics see it as encouraging simple and cheap labor.

The government “should have created a system to accept foreign workers seriously in the first place. In this sense, (the envisaged introduction of a new residential status) is a step forward,” said Shoichi Ibusuki, a lawyer well-versed in foreign labor issues.

But he also raises questions about the plan to, in principle, impose a five-year cap on stays and to bar foreign workers from bringing in family members.

“It’s unacceptable from a humanitarian perspective (for foreign workers) to live far from their family members for five years,” Ibusuki said.

The potential policy change may be long overdue.

No time can be spared amid increased tightness in the labor market. In 2017, job availability rose to its highest in 44 years, with 150 jobs available for every 100 job seekers.

Still, one senior labor ministry official expressed concern about the practice of paying unfairly low wages to foreign workers.

“Not only would it not benefit the foreign workers themselves, but it could also take jobs away from Japanese workers,” the official said.

For companies, particularly small- and mid-sized companies being forced to hunt for workers, the prospect of paving the way for more foreign labor is a positive development.

Takashi Yamauchi, who heads the Japan Federation of Construction Contractors, hailed the government move as “timely” as the construction sector is expected to see increased demand in the run-up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.

The number of foreign workers has already been rising in recent years and the uptrend will likely continue if the government’s new plan goes through.

At convenience store operator FamilyMart Co., for instance, non-Japanese workers account for some 5 percent of its roughly 200,000 workers.

But sectoral gaps have yet to be bridged. Sectors such as nursing care that are in desperate need of labor have faced difficulty in securing workers.

With the rapid aging of the population appearing to pick up pace, the government has increased the number of options for foreign nationals to land nursing care jobs.

Labor shortages could also sap economic growth over the longer term — bad news for Abe, who has been trying to revive the world’s third-largest economy with his “Abenomics” policy mix.

The government aims to realize a society in which both Japanese and non-Japanese people can coexist and plans to draw up measures to help foreign nationals learn Japanese and find housing.

As of April this year, 46 percent of local governments had crafted guidelines or plans designed for foreign nationals, with action depending on the percentage of non-Japanese residents.

Meanwhile, proposals have been floated to reorganize the Immigration Bureau and create a Justice Ministry-affiliated agency to handle low-skilled foreign nationals.

“It should go beyond simply enforcing immigration controls. I hope it will play a role in assisting foreign workers living in Japan in a comprehensive manner,” said Toshihiro Menju, a senior official at the Japan Center for International Exchange.
ENDS

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