Hi Blog. Old article I missed from March 2007 reporting that the central government is responding to requests from local governments for financial assistannce for their NJ residents. Excellent. Let’s hope that it’s not just seen as a temporary stopgap measure. These people need help getting along and assimilating. Good news. Debito in Sapporo
Grants eyed to help foreigners settle
03/09/2007 THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
The central government will provide grants to 70 municipalities for measures to help their growing populations of foreign residents settle in the communities, officials said.
The new system will cover language programs for non-Japanese children before they enroll in school, improved disaster-prevention measures for foreign residents, and expenses to help them live in rental accommodations.
The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications plans to revise its ordinance later this month to offer the special grants to cover the municipalities’ expenses for fiscal 2006, the officials said. The measure may continue in and after fiscal 2007.
The number of registered non-Japanese residents in the nation nearly doubled to about 2.01 million in 2005 from about 1.07 million in 1990.
The grants will cover about 70 cities, towns and villages whose foreign populations have grown at a rate at least twice the national pace, according to the ministry.
Municipalities in Nagano, Shizuoka, Gifu, Aichi, Shiga and other prefectures are eligible for the grants this fiscal year.
Municipal governments with large populations of foreigners have been calling on the central government to shoulder expenses to deal with educational, medical and other issues related to the non-Japanese residents.
In the town of Oizumi, Gunma Prefecture, the number of registered non-Japanese residents grew from 1,315 in 1990 to 6,748 by the end of January 2007, a fivefold increase to a figure that now accounts for about 16 percent of the town’s population.
“We appreciate the fact that the central government is finally moving to take care of what has been a financial burden on the municipal government,” a town official said.
Of the foreign residents in Oizumi, 80 percent to 90 percent are from South America.
The town office spends about 50 million yen a year for measures to help non-Japanese residents, including employing assistant Japanese language teachers at elementary and junior high schools and producing Portuguese calendars that explain how to sort garbage and show the collection days.
In Hamamatsu, Shizuoka Prefecture, the population of residents from outside Japan has grown by about four times since 1990.
The Hamamatsu city government said it has allocated about 145 million yen in its fiscal 2006 budget for measures to help its estimated 30,000 non-Japanese residents.
The central government has distributed special grants to local governments to deal with natural disasters, heavy snowfalls and other needs.
The ministry will revise its ordinance on the special grants to include measures to deal with rapidly increasing populations of non-Japanese. (IHT/Asahi: March 9,2007)