Foreigners to need ‘skills’ to live in Japan
Justice panel takes aim at illegal aliens
By JUN HONGO, Staff writer
Japan Times Sept 23 2006
(COMMENT AT BOTTOM)
A Justice Ministry panel discussing long-term policies for accepting overseas workers said Friday the government should seek out those with special skills and expertise to cope with the shrinking labor force in Japan.
“The debate on whether to allow foreigners to enter the country and work here is over. The question now is how we should receive them,” Senior Vice Justice Minister Taro Kono said at a news conference.
The proposal by the panel headed by Kono also claimed that reducing the number of illegal foreign residents will help the country regain its reputation as “the safest country in the world,” ultimately creating an environment where legal foreign workers can become a part of society.
As suggested in the panel’s interim report released in May, the panel said foreigners who want to work in Japan, including those of Japanese descent, must have a certain degree of proficiency in the Japanese language to be granted legal status.
Kono called the government’s current policy of granting preferential treatment to people of Japanese descent a “mistake” and said the policy must be reconsidered.
“Many children of those ethnic Japanese who do not speak (the language) are dropping out of school, which must be stopped,” he said, adding that the lack of language ability is becoming a major problem for foreign workers.
“The government must take responsibility for building a system to teach Japanese to them,” Kono said.
The panel was set up in December to discuss new regulations for accepting foreign workers into the country. Japan’s foreign population is expected to grow as the country ages and fewer young people enter the workforce.
The panel sparked controversy in the May interim report by saying the ratio of foreign residents to the total population should not exceed 3 percent. The final version made no reference to how many foreign workers should be allowed in, saying only that number of foreigners should not exceed a certain percentage of the total population because it would create confusion that the government could not cope with.
“We decided not to mention the percentage this time, because the number itself captured so much attention last time,” Kono said.
Foreign nationals are currently estimated by the Justice Ministry to account for 1.2 percent of the country’s population.
The Japan Times: Saturday, Sept. 23, 2006
COMMENTS: I am largely in favor of these proposals, as long as the government (as I said in previous writings) keep the language evaluation independently certifiable–not letting it become another means for labor force abuse (by allowing bosses to wantonly decide whether or not workers are “jouzu” enough).
Also glad to see they dropped the 3% as unworkable. Inevitably they would end up having to kick foreigners out as the Japanese population dropped. See the original proposal and a critique at http://www.debito.org/japantimes071106.html
Also, got this comment from a friend:
Did you see the results of the public comment drive for the Kono report? According to the report (available on the Justice Ministry website). They got 437 responses (well, that they officially validated, but that’s another plate of sushi) Of these, 426, or 98 percent, were opposed to expanding the number of foreign workers. Even those few who wanted to expand the the number of foreign workers apparently said that solving the problem of “public safety” was a condition for their agreeing. Proof, as if we need more, that the foreingers-as-dangerous-criminals- propaganda over the past five years or so has been chillingly effective.
I’d be curious to learn how many people you know or know of wrote in. If it was more than a dozen, I think a fair question to Mr. Kono would be whether the opinions of resident foreigners were included in the survey.
Did anyone else respond to the MoJ request for info? Please let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Finally, that last line with the 1.2% foreign population figure. When are people going to get this figure right? This is the figure for the non-Zainichi foreign population. The total of REGISTERED foreigners is closer to 1.6%. It might seem a small difference, but it’s incorrect. Again, the product of reporters being spoon-fed and swallowing stats given to them from above. Even though we corrected them before. –Arudou Debito