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Hi Blog. The Asahi Shinbun recently has been doing specials on NJ as residents of Japan (another positive step towards situating them in Japan and humanizing them properly). First, they do some assessments of the problems of discrimination, then they ask for feedback from NJ readers (“The Asahi Shimbun is also seeking opinions from foreign residents about life in Japanese communities at the AJW website. Please send in your contributions in English to firstname.lastname@example.org”) and give it in follow-up articles (such as the fluff piece on “Do as the Romans do” also included below). At least somebody is broaching the possibilities of immigration and assimilation.
Debito.org Readers, please feel free to take up the Asahi’s invitation. Many of you are already, like it or not, Visible Minorities. Now be Visible Residents. And I hope that the GOJ expands its discrimination surveys beyond Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo, nationwide. Dr. ARUDOU, Debito
Survey: Discrimination encountered by 42% of foreign residents in Tokyo’s Shinjuku Ward
Asahi Shinbun, January 25, 2016, courtesy of JK
By YURI IMAMURA/ Staff Writer
Around 42.3 percent of foreign residents in Tokyo’s Shinjuku Ward “often” or “sometimes” feel discriminated against by Japanese people, particularly during searches for a home, a survey showed.
In comparison, 47.2 percent of non-Japanese in the ward said they “never” or “not too often” experience such discrimination, according to the survey by the Shinjuku Ward government.
The situation most cited for prejudice or discrimination against foreign residents was “when they were searching for a place to live,” at 51.9 percent, followed by “when they were working,” at 33.2 percent, and “when they were going through procedures at a public agency,” at 25.6 percent.
Around 38,000 foreign residents make up 11 percent of Shinjuku Ward’s population.
The ward sent questionnaires to 7,000 randomly selected foreign and Japanese residents listed in the Basic Resident Register last summer for the Survey on Multicultural Living in Shinjuku Ward. It received responses from about 2,000 residents through autumn.
A total of 22.1 percent of the Japanese residents said that having foreign neighbors is “favorable” or “relatively favorable,” surpassing the 16.9 percent who said it is “unfavorable” or “relatively unfavorable.”
The Japanese respondents, however, cited various concerns about having foreign neighbors.
Some 47.6 percent of the Japanese said, “I am worried about how they would take out the garbage,” followed by 35.4 percent who said, “I am worried about loud voices and other noises from their rooms.”
On the positive side, 28.1 percent of the Japanese respondents said having foreign neighbors “would help me take an interest in foreign countries,” while 26.7 percent said it “would help increase my chances to experience foreign cultures.”
Asked what is most needed to eliminate prejudice and discrimination, 50.7 percent of the Japanese said “accepting the different lifestyles of each other.”
AJW is also seeking views from foreign residents about life in Japanese communities.
TO OUR READERS: AJW seeks views from foreign residents about life in Japanese communities
January 08, 2016, THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
Opening up Japan to more immigrants has been proposed to deal with demographic problems facing Japan, including a declining and graying population.
But that option raises the question of whether Japanese communities are prepared to allow more foreign residents into their neighborhoods.
That is why the AJW site wants to hear from foreign residents of Japan as part of a project being organized by The Asahi Shimbun.
The vernacular Asahi is planning a weekly series of special pages on the theme of Japanese and foreigners living in the same community. The series is scheduled to begin in late January and will run in the weekend issues of the Asahi.
A main objective of the special pages will be to determine what factors help or stand in the way of Japanese who live in neighborhoods with an increasing number of foreign residents.
Special pages in the past have dealt with various themes, and the views sent in by readers were the main material used in putting together the pages.
For the new theme that will begin in January, the pages will again consist mainly of the views and opinions sent in by Japanese readers.
But to provide a different perspective on the issue, we are also interested in hearing from foreign residents to get their side of the story.
We would like to hear about your experiences in living in Japanese communities, your interactions with your neighbors as well as comparisons with life in your native land or in other nations where you may have once lived.
The contributions sent in by foreign residents will be used to shed a different light on interactions between Japanese and foreign residents in various communities.
Please send in your contributions in English to email@example.com
We ask that you also include your name and a contact number in case reporters at the Asahi wish to make further contact to ask you questions.
THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
Asahi readers weigh in on ‘do as the Romans do’ in Japan for foreign residents
January 26, 2016
THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
Asahi Shimbun readers are divided over whether foreign nationals living in Japan should “do as the Romans do” to assimilate in this multicultural age.
With the number of foreign residents hitting a record high of 2.17 million as of June 2015, many readers referred to the positive contributions that non-Japanese can make to their communities, while others were concerned about cultural friction and deteriorating public safety.
A central issue was whether foreign nationals need to embrace the “do as the Romans do” approach to become fully functioning members of their communities.
Younger generations, citing growing globalization, said such a mentality was counterproductive.
Of 699 people who responded to an online questionnaire posted in early January, 495 said as of Jan. 21 that a society with a sizable foreign community will inevitably be multicultural where people with diverse cultural backgrounds and values live harmoniously.
Respondents are allowed to pick multiple answers.
In 465 cases, respondents said such a multicultural society will provide greater opportunities for members to learn and experience different languages and cultures.
However, 371 agreed that a multicultural society could create cultural friction over language and lifestyle differences, while 275 voiced concern that accepting a huge influx of immigrants could have a major impact on public safety.
Of the 699 respondents, 335 said they feel very familiar brushing shoulders with foreign residents and 197 said they are somewhat familiar with foreigners, while 124 said they are not very familiar, followed by 43 people who said they are not at all familiar with foreigners.
The survey also collected opinion letters, and readers turned out to be divided over what attitude foreign nationals should adopt in order to become fully functioning members of Japanese society.
A woman in her 50s from Osaka Prefecture said foreign nationals should adopt the “do as the Romans do” mentality and respect Japanese laws, culture and customs if they want to create symbiotic relations with Japanese.
“I believe the ‘do as the Romans do’ attitude is essential for anyone to live in a foreign country, and I would like to ask how many foreigners came to Japan with the idea of respecting Japanese culture in such a manner,” the woman wrote.
A respondent from Tokyo in her 40s said that “if a foreigner chooses to live in Japan, he or she must at least have respect for Japanese culture and manners.”
However, she added that “I think the time is ripe for Japanese people to reform their island-nation mentality, which tends to exclude outsiders.”
“I myself need to keep an open mind to build friendly relations with foreign residents,” she wrote.
A man from Kyoto in his 20s also argued that requiring all members in society to adopt a “do as the Romans do” attitude is obsolete in this era of globalization.
“Culture is a transient thing by nature, and globalization has made us live in a highly diversified world,” he said. “What we need to do is find ways for different cultures and value systems to coexist in harmony.”
Sam Teckenbrock, a 58-year-old U.S.-born resident of Hirakata, Osaka Prefecture, who has served as chairman of the local neighborhood association for the past seven years, said foreigners certainly need to develop the “do as the Romans do,” although he concede it was very frustrating for him trying to become accustomed to Japanese culture at first.
“Japanese are tactful as to what they say on the surface and what they truly mean, and it confused me a lot, but I eventually learned that speaking this way is partly meant to avoid hurting another person’s feelings,” he said.
“I don’t think it is difficult at all for Japanese and foreigners to live together in harmony when they candidly tell each other things they could not comprehend and try to understand each other in person.”
* * *
The Asahi Shimbun is also seeking opinions from foreign residents about life in Japanese communities at the AJW website. Please send in your contributions in English to firstname.lastname@example.org