Nikkei: Japanese-Brazilians snub Tokyo’s diaspora residency program, attracting exactly ZERO applications after starting 3 months ago


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Hi Blog.  Here’s the latest installment of what I like to call “the jig is up” phenomenon affecting Japan’s public policy, specifically the one that is trying to maintain Japan’s exploitative “revolving-door” NJ labor market.

The Nihon Keizai Shinbun has given us an inadvertently amusing article about how the government’s latest policy U-turn towards the Nikkei Brazilian Community (whom they officially bribed to leave Japan a decade ago), and how this wheeze simply isn’t working.  ZERO applicants applied for a special labor program in three months.  Even though the NJ resident population is at an all-time postwar high, some people have learned their lesson:  don’t come to Japan just to be exploited and then summarily sent home.  More comment from Reader and Submitter Gulf below the article.  Dr. Debito Arudou


Japanese-Brazilians snub Tokyo’s diaspora residency program
Effort to bring over young workers attracts zero applications in 3 months
By NAOYUKI TOYAMA, Nikkei staff writer
October 25, 2018, Courtesy of Gulf

SAO PAULO — Japan’s new residency program for fourth-generation Japanese descendants living overseas did not attract a single Japanese-Brazilian applicant in its first three months.

The program, launched in July, allows descendants ranging in age from 18 to 30 to stay in Japan for up to five years and perform specific types of work. The goal is to ease Japan’s labor shortage, and the Justice Ministry initially expected to accept 4,000 people a year. But the Japanese Embassy and consulates in Brazil had not received any applications as of the end of September.

The South American country is home to the largest ethnic Japanese community abroad.

Potential applicants may be put off by the limited period of stay, as well as restrictions on bringing family members along and required certification of Japanese fluency.

The limitations contrast with the rights granted to second- and third-generation Japanese-Brazilians, who are free to live and work in Japan with residency status granted under a 1990 immigration law revision.

Japanese-Brazilian communities are dotted around Japan. Many residents work in the manufacturing sector. But their numbers are in decline: After surging from 170,000 in 1991 to a peak of 310,000 in 2007, the population dropped to 190,000 at the end of 2017 due to a sluggish economy and other domestic factors.

Despite the need for new sources of labor, Japan’s government has insisted participants in the program would not be considered immigrants. An organization representing Japanese descendants in Brazil blasted Japan for “treating Japanese-Brazilians, who are their compatriots, as unskilled workers for a limited period.”


COMMENT FROM SUBMITTER GULF: I shouldn’t laugh, but in a way it’s a relief that there aren’t any takers. I have relatives in Brazil and I lived there when I was 5 and 6 years old. It’s actually the reason I came to know Japanese culture and decided to study the language.

To be fair I doubt there are many 4th generation Nikkeis that speak Japanese, if any. But of course the poor conditions on offer certainly aren’t an incentive to learn their ancestral language.

Thank you as always for your efforts and for keeping up the site as a 20+ year old archive on human rights in Japan. –Sincerely, GULF.

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23 comments on “Nikkei: Japanese-Brazilians snub Tokyo’s diaspora residency program, attracting exactly ZERO applications after starting 3 months ago

  • Gulf thinks he shouldn’t laugh. I think he should, I am laughing so hard!
    Let’s take stock shall we?
    The program to attract ‘elite’ NJ didn’t get any applicants.
    The program to attract NJ nurses hasn’t attracted any more than a literal handful of applicants who are willing to jump through all the hoops and barriers.
    And now this total failure.

    If the J-Gov wants people to come, lower the barriers. Or not, if they don’t. I can’t wait to see what happens when all these old LDP voting farmers start passing away unnoticed and alone, because there aren’t any carers, and hyper inflation means the value of their pention will be too low to allow them to be one of these ‘AI wonder robot carers’ that I am continually assured are just around the corner.

  • Hmm, just want to throw an idea out here. Lets say Japan runs out of places to recruit NJ in the near future, will Japan then try to attract strictly Pro-Japan ideologically as some last resort?

    At least on the inter-webs, I am seeing so many apologist NJ posts on the internet (4chan and /r japancirclejerk being some of the most notorious) who shamelessly admit that they are jealous of people who get to live in Japan. The most common defense of apologists I see the most are “this is Japan not America”, “In Rome do as Romans do!”, “Thats the way things are, I suck it up so should you!”

    So I am wondering, if no one wants to go to Japan, how about sending some purely ideologically driven apologists over to Japan and see them learn a lesson or two? I wonder how many will be singing the same tune after 5 years and then get booted out.

    I sometimes wonder if Japan is trying to avoid hiring from the west due to higher cost and legal liability (fear of getting sued or worst if the injured worker is for example American as opposed to lets say from the Philippines).

    This is not to say I condone making Japan a cesspool of racist nihojinron apologists, but going just by Japanese logic wouldn’t Japan eventually want to recruit those who are blindly loyal to Japan.

    It would also be a good experiment to see how many are willing to “do as Romans do” in Japan and for how long and if they are as tough as they sound online.

    The reason I post this is that I kinda think that the Jgov might think something along the lines of “Nobody wants to come but we see these forums full of apologists who would do anything to be here so why not bring them in?”

    If Japan is to continue the way things are, where else would Japan attract people other than from the most determined of apologists? Assuming apologists won’t complain about pay and working conditions and obediently do as Romans do all the way of course.

    — And they’ll get to question the assumption of whether they’ll ever be accepted as Romans themselves, even if they do everything as the Romans do.

    • Didn’t Japan already try this about two years ago? Didn’t they make it easier to get visas for people who ‘promoted’ Japanese culture, using that points based system to attract ‘elite NJ’?
      It totally failed, right?
      None of the weaboos wanted to move out of their parents basements I guess.

      • Jim, after reading Bayfield´s comment I also remembered those “promoting Japan” visas. Looked for info about them, alas with no success.

        Does anybody know if they made it further than the brainstorming room?

  • Unlike Japan in 2018, anyone could be a Roman citizen in 212AD.
    “an edict issued in AD 212 by the Roman Emperor Caracalla, which declared that all free men in the Roman Empire were to be given full Roman citizenship and all free women in the Empire were given the same rights as Roman women. “wiki


  • “how about sending some purely ideologically driven apologists over to Japan and see them learn a lesson or two? I wonder how many will be singing the same tune after 5 years and then get booted out.”

    These people are only used for shows like we see where they come to Narita and are followed around and asked about why they are in Japan; they invariably respond how wonderful Japan is or how somebody was so nice to them and carried their bags. The Japanese are not stupid, they know these people would run at the first experience of othering or racism and avoid at all cost interviewing people who are honest about Japan

    • Reminds me of interviewing at the Japanese Embassy for JET, they really just wanted someone who was completely GENKI, didnt know much about Japan (i.e. wasnt jaded or had other options) was interested in Japan (difficult to balance, that one), and wouldnt mind being sent to Inakamono Machi.
      Unfortunately I let slip I had other options, friends in Tokyo, and spoke Japanese. Plus the sheer fossilized condescending stuffiness of the relics interviewing me (RIP) really got my angry young back up at the time, and that didnt go down too well, either.

      • love this comment, says it all “Who wouldn’t want to get a degree, learn to speak a (possibly third) language – one of the toughest, travel thousands of miles from home leaving their family and friends behind, to work in a minimum wage job, paying first world prices for their food, transport and rent in a hostel, so they can engage in the hard manual labour that is farm work, outdoors in all weathers, from dawn till dusk, being feared, mistrusted or just disliked by the locals. Dream job. Bonus: no shackles.

        I wonder if I should cancel my plumber and just live without a working boiler. He is certified but I doubt he has a degree”

      • Wow, this article is… eye-opening.

        This is where the rubber hits the road, they stopped pretending and now are openly targeting countries with a GDP low enough (“1/10 of Japan”) because they hope to get university graduates do blue-collar jobs. And to think I was happy to see they had somewhat changed the policy of kicking migrant workers out after 5 years (presumably because not many will want in, as we see with the Nikkeis). Though as Debito says the unlimited renewals could be undone down the road with visa policy changes…

        Well, let us have the good people of Bangladesh, Zambia, Cambodia, Cameroon, Lesotho… vote with their feet. I just hope people don`t come believing Japan is a land of opportunity once you learn Japanese, and the visas end up locking them exclusively in blue-collar jobs, which is likely enough. Or discrimination does that anyway.

        If you want to check which 53 countries have a per capita GDP equal or lower to one tenth of Japan´s:

  • Jim Di Griz says:

    Despite (or because of?) a string of consequence free detainee deaths at Japanese immigration centers, immigration staff continue to feel free to dish out punitive punishments for perceived slights, with disregard for detainees health and safety.
    This time the detainees were punished for complaining about the lack of health and safety consideration during detention;

    • “Detained for jeering”. Jeering. Kowaaaiiiii. Oh Boo hoo, safe spaces for hypersensitive J-officials, what next? It seems “jeering” and sniggering is a big no no in Democratic Japan. We’ve seen this before.
      I guess they are following the lead of Abe’s at a Southern All Stars Concert. He can get upset easily so they can too?
      And of course the classic
      “foreign detainees in a room for six people for about 24 hours after they acted aggressively, officials said Monday.The measure was taken in June at an immigration facility in Osaka “to keep order” after their belligerent acts, including jeering, an official said, describing the measure as “appropriate.”

      No one was hurt, according to the officials.”

      • Jim Di Griz says:

        Yeah. They can stomach the agonizing screams of an inmate crying out for medical attention until the guy literally dies, but a little jeering? Well, apparently that’s where they draw the line!

        • I think when they feel not respected (even if they have not earned that respect), is what they hate the most.
          “Stop Laughing shut up shut up. Japan is a leader in Human rights” (cue sniggers).
          Translation: Respect My Authoritah. (-rianism). I am Erai Hito. Listen respectfully even if I am just making it up as I go along and Japan has in fact done the complete opposite from what I have saying.

          • Yes, this kind of vertical social hierarchy that places ‘erai hito’ and such above reproach, is surely part of the same ‘unique Japanese culture’ that needs to be protected from ‘foreigners who are incapable of understanding it and respecting it’, hence the paranoia about NJ and the detentions in the first place.
            And yet, here the detainees are being punished for not understanding it.

          • in reply to Jim, and also Roger ““how about sending some purely ideologically driven apologists over to Japan and see them learn a lesson or two? I wonder how many will be singing the same tune after 5 years and then get booted out.”
            I was once very Pro Japan and placed it above western culture. Look at me now. Am I going to drive a truck? Or pick strawberries in Fukushima? Hell no..

            learnt my lesson indeed.

    • Japan is KETCHI these days. Seriously price conscious in stark contrast to 80s where they often preferred quality over price.
      I have just had a Japanese bank turn me down for a freelancer because I was 1200 yen more expensive. But I speak Japanese and the cost cutting competition dont’.(maybe that’s what they want, someone who doesnt understand them, so they can revel in their unscrutability?)
      Same thing a few months ago from a J banker who says he “had no money this month until salary day.”
      J banks are hard up indeed, how long before Japan sinks to 4th largest economy?
      Their overseas buying power already seems very weak, so indeed Abe and Co is doing it on the cheap.

      • Do ketchi I would say.
        Last year I was looking for work and a Thai woman said she knew of a job. Not teaching but being a care worker. Shift is 5 p.m.-4 a.m. for 18,000 yen. No thanks, I said. So of course they have a hard time getting workers and there was talk of making the shift shorter so just get foreign people to do it since not enough Japanese want to do that work. It is not easy. My brother-in-law’s wife does it in Osaka but some of the old people are so hard to deal with complains about them a lot.

    • Japan is running out of money to take care of its elderly, so the gov decided to blame NJ as some kind of catch all solution.

      Now, if cutting whatever meager benefits NJ workers is bad, its not even at its worst yet. Soon the thought of retirement in Japan will be all but a pipe dream.

      Those news articles kind of remind me of what the Russian government tried to do recently, that is to raise the retirement age high above the life expectancy of the average person. As a consequence, many people will never live long enough to collect their retirement.

      I am suspecting that the J-gov is trying something like that.

      Raising the retirement age and chopping benefits, its no wonder Japan suddenly wants NJ to stay longer or even permanently.

      Blaming NJ for leaching Japan is a convenient defense when average citizens complain about the government raising retirement age. And unfortunately blaming NJ seems to be a catch all PR solution that ALWAYS work without fail in Japan.

      You know, there are even times where I wonder if Japanese students ever tried the excuse “NJ ate my homework so I have nothing to hand in today” at school and it works.

      But then again I really haven’t seen a case where the Japanese would suddenly step back and say “hey hey hey, that doesn’t make sense, you can’t blame NJ for that too!!”

      • ‘Gaijin ate my homework!’
        I’m putting that on a T-shirt!
        But yes, I agree, the J-gov is putting the squeeze on its social welfare payments to all residents of Japan, and running out the old ‘to stop abuse by NJ’ ensures absolute blind acceptance from the masses.

  • Jim Di Griz says:

    Ha! And here is the catch!
    Japan wants (needs!) half a million graduates to fill its blue-collar vacancies, but sure as hell wants to hedge its bets in case the economy takes a downturn and it decides to kick them out, just like it did to the Nikkeijin Brazilians a couple of years ago!
    These workers WON’T be allowed to apply for permanent residency. Just rolling short term visas.


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