Proof positive that some people really do suck: JT responses to proposals for a Japanese immigration policy

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Hi Blog.  It’s times like these when I think human society really has a bottomless capacity for oozing disdain for and wishing ill-will upon others.  Get a load of these letters to the editor (including authors who won’t reveal their names, or don’t live in Japan anyway) responding acidulously to my Japan Times column earlier this month, where I made constructive proposals for making Japan a place more attractive for immigration.  (Many of these proposals were made not just by me, but also by former Immigration bureaucrat Sakanaka Hidenori; so much for their pat claim below of imposing my moral values).

None of these respondents appear to be immigrants, or have any expressed interest in investing in this society, yet they heap scorn upon those who might plan to.  I know paper will never refuse ink, but surely these people have more productive uses of their time then just scribbling poorly-researched and nasty screeds that help no-one.  The self-injuring, snake-eating-its-tail mentality seen in NJ vets of Japan is something worthy of study by psychologists, methinks.  Any takers?  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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The Japan Times, Letters to the Editor Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2009

HAVE YOUR SAY
Level playing field for immigrants: responses
A selection of readers’ responses to Debito Arudou’s Dec. 1 Just Be Cause article, which proposed policy changes to “make life easier for Japan’s residents, regardless of nationality”:

Get your fill and head off
I’m getting tired of listening to foreigners moaning on Japan. The answer is very simple: You don’t like it, leave it. Why do these people want to live in Japan at all costs if they don’t like the system? The world is big; go somewhere else. I’ve been in Japan for 4 years with my Japanese wife and now we have understood it’s time to move on for our future, and therefore go back to Europe. We all know Japan is a homogeneous country. It will never become a cosmopolitan society like the West. Who are we to change a deep-rooted, xenophobic culture where Japanese have been living for centuries? It’s much easier for Japanese to live in the West than for us to live in Japan. There are big Japanese communities in every Western country. Japan is not an expats’ resort by tradition. Foreigners come here either for marriage or overseas contracts, meaning it can be a beautiful place to live for a few years but not to settle permanently. My suggestion to all those disillusioned gaijin is to make the most of your stay in Japan and return home when you think you’ve had enough.

JOHN TESTORE

Takasaki, Gunma Pref.

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Unwelcome, no matter what
This article implied that Japan is seeking to welcome foreigners, which is far from the case. I came here (unwillingly) under a Japanese scholarship, graduated here top of my class, work here, did volunteering to help in disaster relief . . . But everyday I wake up, I find myself in the same position: potential thief when I walk in a store; a potential terrorist when I enter a government building, even when I spend my time there volunteering; my neighbor keeping watch on me every day; unable to obtain a bank recommendation when I need it . . . In my case, I gave up on Japan and will (leave) with a bitter taste.

NAME WITHHELD

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Homogeneity works well
Japan has been often criticized for its immigration policy, which does make it somewhat difficult for a non-Japanese (NJ) to obtain permanent residency or citizenship. I disagree that this policy has worked to Japan’s disadvantage in the global labor market. . . . (Arudou) says Japan needs a new immigration ministry that would decide clear public standards that would give immigrants what they want. It is not an obligation of the government to give immigrants what they want. The (role of the) ministry is to be sure that the immigrants who are allowed into Japan will obey the laws of Japan and not become wards of the state.

Also, I disagree with Arudou’s desire to have citizenship based on birth in Japan. Look at the U.S.: Illegal aliens come into the U.S. and have what is called an “anchor baby.” The baby is automatically a U.S. citizen, and his/her parents then become eligible for permanent residency and then citizenship. And the American taxpayer pays for their health care, housing, food stamps, education and more. They create their enclaves, demand bilingual classes, etcetera, and never learn English.

Japan has been very fortunate to have about 98 percent of its population (form) a homogeneous society, in which the people share a common language and culture. Of course there are local variances, but by and large the people speak one language, which helps to maintain a high level of literacy and an appreciation of a common culture, language and history. . . . Debito Arudou should abide by the laws of immigration of Japan, stop whining or simply find another place to live.

KARL E. WAHL

Bellevue, Wa.

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Let Japan run its own shop
I am an American who lived in Japan for 4 years and find it pathetic how many people want to force Western ideologies onto Japan. Japan is its own country. Let them do as they please. At least they can control their immigration issues, unlike most European countries and the United States. I bemoan how my country, the United States, can’t tackle or has an unwillingness to tackle the issue. Japan has a right to keep the country as Japan sees fit. Forcing non-Japanese moral values on it to satisfy the short-term aging population issue is not in best interests of Japan.

MIKE TULL

Address withheld

ENDS

52 comments on “Proof positive that some people really do suck: JT responses to proposals for a Japanese immigration policy

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  • I found an interesting article from 2006 using reference materials from 2002 about Japanese Immigration Policy:
    http://www.migrationinformation.org/Feature/display.cfm?id=487
    It may be a few years old, but I found 2 points especially interesting:
    1) “As the Japanese gradually and grudgingly open their country to foreigners…”
    – you read it right – grudgingly… as in they don’t want to let foreigners in…

    2) “… former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi stated in 2005, “If [the foreign labor] exceeds a certain level, it is bound to cause a clash. It is necessary to consider measures to prevent it and then admit foreign workers as necessary. Just because there is a labor shortage does not mean we should readily allow [foreign workers] to come in.”
    -So a labor shortage need not be a reason to allow immigration. Just let in guest workers when times are good, and send them home when the economy tanks.

    So I conclude that the people currently making policy in Japan really do not want to make it easier for foreigners to come to Japan. They like things the way they are.

  • We can’t expect the government to give us what we want, if we want to end discrimination then we need to change from the inside. For the most part government should be limited in what they do in society, but thats up to the citizens to decide to prevent government from expanding it’s power upon the citizens. My opinion about that is the citizens of Japan are not doing a very good job of dealing with their government, neither is anybody else in the world nowadays.

    For the non citizens coming into Japan, they need to refuse all the propaganda being fed to them by educating themselves (all that crap thrown at you by the government and media saying that you are a foreigner), and lose the preconception that Japanese are all homogenous and are all collectivists. My argument is that Japan is more individualistic than North America. I think people especially the young assert their opinions more freely than they do in North America. you need to be in the right place and time, and stay away from the nasty collectivists. People need to stop thinking Japanese in Japan, and see everything as it is, judge people by who they are what they do. You need to lose the collectivist ideas and realize that individualism and liberty is the only thing that exists, no matter what anyone thinks or tells you.

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