RocketNews: Automatic PR Status awarded to grads of Kyoto universities? Positive proposal by Kyoto Governor that will come to naught


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Hi Blog.  Here’s something interesting.  It will come to naught, of course, but it shows how local governments are much more responsive to the needs of NJ than the central government (which is dominated by the control-the-borders-and-police-foreigners-only mindset of the Ministry of Justice).  Although the central government occasionally deigns to listen to the locals (especially when they band together and say, “Our NJ residents need this!” as per the Hamamatsu Sengen of 2001), ultimately the regular blind spots prevail, and I think they will in this case too (as awarding Permanent Residency is the job of the MOJ, not local governments).  Arudou Debito


Japanese Permanent Resident Status to be Awarded to Overseas Students? A New Appeal by the [Governor] of Kyoto
RocketNews24, April 15, 2013 by Andrew Miller, courtesy of JK and others

On April 10, the [Governor] of Kyoto Keiji Yamada made public his intentions to appeal to the government to award overseas students who graduate from Kyoto [universities] with the right to permanent residence. It is a proposal entitled ‘Kyoto University Special Ward’ and also incorporates other supportive measures for foreign students. With a decrease in student intake within Japan in recent years, it is hoped that by providing incentives for academically skilled overseas students, Kyoto will not only be able to compete with other cities like Tokyo but will also be able to add a new lease of life to its cultural city.

The plan to introduce incentives for overseas students came to light after The Japanese Business Federation and Kyoto’s prefecture office held a panel discussion on how to revive the town. The same prefecture estimated that due to decrease in birth rates, the number of students enrolling in university was also likely to see a significant decrease in years to come. Looking at the birth rate statistics from 2011, it is predicted that the 160,000 students currently residing in Kyoto will see a 25,000 student decrease in the future.

On the other hand, the number of overseas students currently residing in Kyoto is 6,000. According to research carried out by Kyoto Prefecture, several universities in Singapore have over a 60 percent foreign student uptake. What’s more, the same students are awarded the right to permanent residence upon graduating. Singapore is no doubt leading the way in attracting, and fostering, talent from abroad.

At the same panel discussion, Kyoto’s [Governor] was enthusiastic about providing an environment like Singapore in which to support foreign students with finding employment after graduation, and nurturing talent through education.

With air of conviction, Kyoto’s [Governor] put his proposition to the panel:

“What I’d like to ask you to consider is whether overseas students who graduate from Kyoto [universities] and take part in the city’s job training program can be given permanent resident status. I’d like to work with everyone in producing an effective policy.”

It is reported that at the end of the discussion all the parties were keen to provide a fertile ground in which to foster a “University utopia” and backed the mayor’s proposal. Kyoto Prefecture is set to cooperate with the parties concerned and appeal to the government to put this measure in place during the year.


Original article linked from RocketNews:

京の留学生に永住権を 府が「大学生特区」提案へ
京都新聞 4月10日(水)







18 comments on “RocketNews: Automatic PR Status awarded to grads of Kyoto universities? Positive proposal by Kyoto Governor that will come to naught

  • does the mayor say they would have to graduate from Kyoto University, or a university in Kyoto? The Japanese quote above says “Kyoto no daigaku” and not “kyotodaigaku”. that would open up PR status to any graduate of a university in the ‘special ward’.

  • @Robert

    You’re right, and as the Japanese quote is from the local Kyoto Shimbun, it’s probably accurate. Moreover, Yamada is not the mayor of Kyoto City, but the governor of Kyoto Prefecture.

    — Yes, quite. Glad I appended the original article. Sorry so busy as to not check more thoroughly. I will make the corrections to the blog post title. Any more?

  • The proposal is inclusive of all students in Kyoto prefecture. Almost two years and ten months to the day Hatoyama Yukio and Ozawa Ichiro were told to sit down and shut up, yet another brave man is fighting the good fight. Well done to Governor Keiji Yamada!

  • hey thats pretty awesome; I think they are trying to follow the US lead on that, however. Debito is right- nothing will come of it- Ishi & gang will squash it or pressure somebody to do it for them. we’ve seen other grand ideas get squashed in the mix

    — I think Abe, Ishi, and Hashi won’t be the ones squashing it (they have bigger nationalisms to fry and shrines to visit). The bureaucrats at the MOJ will.

  • Winning Gold at Dressage Doesn't Count says:

    Is this really a good idea? Why should somebody be given resident status simply because they went to university in a place? It isn’t really fair to a lot of others who may have shown more commitment to the locality.

    — My take: You gotta start somewhere, and you have to offer incentives at this stage in the game (the simple joy of “living in Japan” has lost some of its sheen). Leaving PR solely up to the MOJ is not all that helpful when Immigration does all that it can to trip you up and “reset your visa clock”. Getting through a Japanese university like every other Japanese student (especially as a non-native speaker) is no small feat, so that could be a decent measure of commitment to Japan. Besides, I don’t believe it’s a zero-sum sort of thing (i.e., one person’s level of commitment should not detract from another’s: let there be many ways to demonstrate commitment without having the gold standard of giving up 5-10 years of your life with no bureaucratic snags). Let’s consider alternatives, as Gov. Yamada is, without a simple dismissal of them as “I went through the boot camp, so so should everyone else” attitudes.

  • “Getting through a Japanese university like every other Japanese student (especially as a non-native speaker) is no small feat”

    Um….having attended a Japanese university, trust me….it really is a small feat. Japanese university is a joke in terms of actual higher-level learning going on. Oh, some of the ゼミ classes were quite intense, but they were the exception to the rule.

  • 「京都大学生特区」or “special ward” sounds an awful lot like they are going to create just that, a special, meaning segregated, ward (probably with a huge buffer zone to areas where Japanese live, like the immigration offices on “Tenno’s Isle” in Shinagawa) where the foreigners will live among themselves so not to scare the Obaachans and Ojiisans too much.
    While the basic idea is right, it still ignores the basic problem of attracting high potentials to life in Japan. If you are upper-middle-class as a foreigner here, and compare the lifestyle to that of other countries who would take you, Japan just has not enough to offer. The climate is oppressively hot and humid for several months a year, the activities are limited to taking your kids to Lalaport or look at a temple once in a while, while you live in one of the ugliest cities in the world (see Alex Kerr) and still won’t be treated nearly equally.
    How is Japan ever going to compete with Europe, Australia, and the US?

  • Jim Di Griz says:

    I hate to agree with Debito on this one, but this idea, should it gain ant popular traction, will doubtlessly be called the act of a Chinese/Korean traitor/spy attempting to destroy ‘traditional’ J-values (in Kyoto of all places *gasp!*). Out of touch, self-entitled, 50 something man-children politicians will elevate this instantly from a local debate about the city of Kyoto’s relationship with it’s international students, to one of ‘tiny Japan under siege; protect the beautiful country!’ ensuring a massive knee-jerk grassroots popular opposition to the idea. Shame.

    ‘Shame’ I say, because international students are defying all logic by coming here (unless they are doing a thesis on the collapse of nations). These international students are proving their irrational devotion to Japan by struggling for years in globally second rate Japanese universities, overcoming the language barrier of a practically dead language, eating food that is part of an irradiated food-chain, being denied basic human rights under the law, and with virtually no fair employment opportunities after graduation.

    Even if they do find a job after graduation, and are able to endure abusive employment practices, they will have the economic and demographic horror-show-to-come to pass on to their children, and enjoy themselves in their old age. Citizenship? WTF! These students are so motivated to come to Japan, they deserve a medal, and national hero-status adoration from the locals! After all, if you can enlist in the US Army and get a green card after 3 years, these international students are going above and beyond, and deserve a lot more.

  • Jim Di Griz says:

    As an appendix to the above, what is this ever-so-fragile sense of Japanese identity that it can be forever irrevocably destroyed by seeing a handful of Japan loving NJ on the streets every day? What is this insecure and weak sense of Japanese national identity that it evaporates instantly if politicians don’t anger the neighbors by visiting the Yasukini, denying war crimes publicly, making almost daily speeches about having ‘pride in the nation’ and being a ‘strong nation’? What is this paranoid sense of national Japanese identity that requires the huge expenditure of money on whaling, that nobody wants to eat, at the expense of those made homeless by disaster, just so that the Japanese can tell themselves that they have a foreign policy independent of the USA?

    It’s not much of a sense of national identity worth having, as far as I can see.

  • @Jim Di Griz #9

    Many international students come to Japan looking for better opportunities and a better life. Most come from developing countries, and as such, Japan might still offer better chances at a good job and position in life than their home countries. As for most westerners, I kind of agree that an “irrational devotion” plays a huge part in their choice to come attend university in Japan.

    To be fair, Japan does have this “cool” and “advanced” image abroad that makes many young adults try to understand and master both the language and the culture, and live in this wonderful place that J-media, manga and anime make seem so utopic and ideal. It is not until they have lived in Japan for a handful of years that they start catching on to the lies, if they do not choose to be ignorant to them as many do.

    In that sense, Debito’s work and most of the media scrutiny post 3/11 are doing wonders to inform the public of what really goes on under the glistening façade that Japan likes to put up for the world. I can imagine not many international students would be willing to come once they learn of the rotten stuff.

    ” These students are so motivated to come to Japan, they deserve a medal, and national hero-status adoration from the locals!”

    Most do (I’ve been there), but it is a mind-blowing double standard that the Japanese have for international students that manage to make it through higher education in Japan. They are treated like geniuses (for being able to do it) and dumb children (for being NJ), which causes many international students to leave after graduating.

  • Loverilakkuma says:

    I don’t have much information about the governor, but this isn’t a bad idea. He gives it a try — at least, fairly and squarely. So far my impression on Kyoto is positive, compared to most cities, thanks to the persons making progressive politics (i.e., a leading environmental activist Eileen Mioko Smith). The issue is, as many of us see, who’s gonna make the final decision. There’s not much you can expect from national legal bureau consisting of Antonin Scalia like close-minded conservative Supreme Court judge, who often puts his foot in the mouth in his court arguments. Or they could be even worse than Scalia, since there’s no Sonia Sotomayor in MOJ and they will likely put the governor’s proposal under shredder without even taking a look at it!?

  • It`s good that they are thinking along these lines, but permanent residence straight off seems a bit extreme, how about a 3 year visa and a fast track route to PR? Suggesting automatic PR is a bad idea in the first place as it could let undesirables in without proper screening and perhaps more importantly that fact will ring alarm bells with most Japanese (even moderates) who look at the proposals and so will be dismissed out of hand and nothing at all will be achieved.

    — Spoken in pretty much the same vein as a sweaty-headed alarmist bureaucrat in the MOJ would.

  • I hate to find myself on the right of a debate. I would support an easier visa regime across the board and especially PR process for people that genuinely love Japan and are reasonably compatible with Japanese / western culture. But I don’t accept the idea that Japan is such a terrible place to live and so desperate for immigrants that they should give the right of permanent abode to people without some checks beyond just attending university here and demonstration of good character. Even with the current system a tiny minority of the NJ here cause a disproportionate amount of damage to the image of NJ, and in the UK for example lax immigration policy has allowed in large numbers of foreigners who have not integrated into the country well, and in some cases have formed groups to oppose the democratic basis of the country itself. Of course most immigrants won’t be like that, but acceptance of NJ in Japanese society could be set back considerably without the right controls. That partition is going to seem so reasonable top most Japanese that I can’t see anything more radical getting traction. All that said, I might be wrong on this, and I have an open mind on it. In any event I welcome people advocating for an extremely liberal visa regime, as its good to hear their point of view and as it means there’s more chance of at least some movement on the right direction. For me this has nothing to do with fairness to people who have gone through a tougher previous regime, I agree making that case is nonsense.

  • At least it’s being brought up. It’s a ridiculous system to restart that clock when people decide to get an education. These are just the people who should be given an opportunity to stay. After eight years in this country, I had paid taxes, been ‘productive’ doing work, and been part of my community, but going to graduate school at the “best university in Asia” meant that I had only been in Japan for two years after I’d graduated. And when looking for work after I graduated meant that I had to use my 6-month visa extension which only allows what your previous visa allows, so if you are a student and haven’t applied for permission to do things outside your visa category you can’t even work. If you have applied, you can only work for as many hours as your visa that you’re extending allows, so when I graduated, I could work 20 hours a week. With that kind of status, it’s a bit difficult to find a job. PR is a great idea, but even just a three-year work permit and an acknowledgement that switching to a student visa out of necessity doesn’t mean you’ve never lived here before would be a giant step in the right direction for the country.
    As it stands now, you are basically asked to leave when you graduate. So what’s attractive about studying here?

  • I just had to respond to Chris “PR process for people that genuinely love Japan and are reasonably compatible with Japanese / western culture.”

    Things are not as black and white as you and the feverish MOJ officials think.

    I speak fluent Japanese, and work for a Japanese company in a somewhat unique role, but do not “love Japan” unconditionally, though there were a few cultural things I used to love which do not exist now-that boat has sailed in the 90s. I was here for the money. I left when my salary was cut, 3/11 etc etc.

    I was offered to apply for PR. I turned it down. I personally feel neither 100% compatible with either western or Japanese “culture” as there are many, many cultures and sub cultures and do not like the direction either of them are moving.

    “But I don’t accept the idea that Japan is such a terrible place to live””

    It is surely neither great nor terrible. Tho the MOJ and Abe would have us believe it was paradise on earth. I recall that Manchukuo was also referred to in glowing terms to get Japanese colonists to go there, tho life there was hard.A bit like Chinese trainees working 24/7 in appalling conditions.

    “Even with the current system a tiny minority of the NJ here cause a disproportionate amount of damage to the image of NJ,”

    Does this mean drinking in Roppongi and hitting on women? And then being asked to do a urine test? Look, NJ crime is tiny. It is falling year after year so why bring this red herring up? The Police Agency and MOJ will anyway, without J apologists having to do their dirty work for them.

  • I`m open to changing my mind, not least as I feel very uncomfortable on the side of this debate I found (put) myself. But as yet I`m still not really convinced. It`s a very fine line to walk though I know.

    Of course no one should love a country unconditionally, that`s a little extreme, but there`s a fairly big difference between a relaxed visa regime (which I am in favour of) and giving someone permanent residence without some settling in time. With PR you are getting some major benefits which once given are given more or less unconditional, in turn those benefits come with some moral, if not legal responsibilities, that being broadly to be a productive and constructive member of society.

    Sure some students will leave university here wanting to be Japanese, a few will leave wanting to go straight back home, perhaps the majority will be somewhere between wanting to stay to make money and wanting to stay because the country is growing on them and they feel they might want to stay. There will be some that absolutely hate living in Japan and hate the culture and only want to stay for what they can get out of it – sure it`s a small minority, but one that potentially punches above it`s weight in terms of the negative qualities it can bring to the country. I know this because I`ve seen it so many times, and that minority can damage the cause of NJ, Japanese and Japan in general as it has in other countries.

    No, it doesn`t mean drinking in Roppongi and hitting on women, but it might mean getting paralytic in Roppongi, vomiting all over the street, shouting at passers by, breaking windows and actually beating up women. Do some Japanese people do that too? Yes of course, but just because you already have some bad apples, doesn`t mean you should voluntarily let in even more.

    I didn`t (I don`t think) bring up NJ crime, that said the only crimes that have touched on me personally in Japan were all committed by NJ (anecdotal I know). I agree that NJ commit less crime per head than Japanese (not least because of the tight immigration standards), the problem is that thanks to sensationalism and outright racism on the part of the Japanese media, crime committed by NJ has a much higher profile and as part of a high profile minority which I have no choice in being part of, I don`t particularly want more individuals admitted to that group who are likely to commit crimes which rightly or wrongly then reflect on me, or indeed other minorities which perhaps I would not be considered a member of, but who I don`t want to see tarred with the same brush either.

    Japan is one of, if not the safest countries on earth and most of the people are very trusting and pacifistic, this is why they frequently have such a tough time when they travel abroad. There is a lot of violent, racist, religiously extremist, women hating, fraudulent, anti social and just plain rude culture outside of Japan, and it is fair enough that Japan would want to avoid allowing people who have that culture deep rooted within them to enter Japan and or to stay in Japan, at least without time to prove that they have left that culture at the door. Sure, most foreigners entering Japan are perfectly respectable and good natured, but the system is there to try and filter out the ones who aren`t. And again, sure there are plenty or violent, women hating, rude Japanese people, but again that doesn`t mean we should let more in. It doesn`t take very many bad apples to undermine social solidarity, I`ve seen it happen in the UK within my lifetime, and while I love the fact that the UK is cosmopolitan, they let in just enough people with ill intentions and ideology that everyone felt they had to put up their guard, and start looking after themselves before others, it has been a disaster and Japan needs to avoid going down that road IMHO. I don`t believe either in taking an extreme position in hope that a moderate one might be reached, especially here in Japan. (sorry for the essay.)

    — You admit all these caveats (lower crime rates for NJ, NJ who want to contribute and will if given a more stable visa, etc.), and yet you teeter on the brink of being a “self-hating gaijin”, because as evidenced above you don’t seem to be able to stop seeing the world in terms of “peaceful Japanese isolated in their own little Galapagos until the outside world comes to despoil it and victimize them with their violent, fraudulent etc ‘culture'”. You are treating Japanese like they are scared little rabbits down the burrow and NJ are intruders — to say the least, this is very belittling towards Japanese.

    If you care to debug yourself, then stop falling for the social dynamic of “one NJ damaging the ’cause’ (or reputation) of all NJ in Japan”. It is for one a fallacious attribution (very imperfect in terms of definition, application, or measurement), and a ticket to mental illness (where you see anyone who you think might be in your circumstances in Japan having control over your life due to their behavior: paranoia). And for another reason, this attribution is precisely what racists do: “tar with the same brush”: i.e., judge people as a group not on the content of their character but on phenotype. Just stoppit. It’s not welcome at

  • On reflection, I think you are right that I was wrong to worry about how I personally would be viewed due to the behaviour of others, as you say that is both erroneous thinking and a potential ticket to mental illness, thanks for pointing that out, I will debug as you suggest. It also distracted from the main point I was trying to make.

    While I too want a fair and reasonable immigration policy, and I am in favour of a considerable relaxation in current policy, I still believe there should be a limit. Very lax immigration policy can be disastrous, causing deep division within a society. In the case of the UK it was, I believe, one of the triggers for a collapse in social solidarity which has led to increasingly severe inequality and all the detrimental effects that has on a society.

    Of course a major factor in how one views this issue is how urgently you believe Japan needs immigrants, if Japan does urgently need immigrants then the sooner it opens up the better and taking graduates from Japanese universities would be a no brainer. I know this is your position Debito. Personally I don’t have an opinion on this yet, I don’t necessarily see a problem on the streets, but I know many believe the statistics are staring us in the face, and that there are no alternatives, so I’ll keep an open mind.

    As for seeing the Japanese as startled rabbits, I might have walked into that with some of my wording, though I don’t agree that would necessarily be belittling anyway – there’s nothing shameful about not having experienced violence or criminality etc. at first hand and I’m sure we all agree that most crime levels are far lower in Japan than in most other countries, indeed Japan often comes around bottom of crime ranks for OECD countries. In any event it`s not about the Japanese per se, it equally applies to the UK in my above example (and many other countries), British people were shocked (and rightly so) by, for example, “honour” killings, Jamaican and Somali gangster violence and Russian mafia assassinations etc… not to mention the London underground bombings (One of the bombers lived near to my local supermarket with his wife and kids!). Yes, those are extreme examples, but might have been avoided or at least reduced with better immigration policy.

    All that said, sometimes principle should trump everything else, so if there is a fundamental principle I am missing here, I would also welcome your drawing my attention to that.

    — The fundamental principle here is that you are cloaking your personal xenophobia in reasonable-sounding arguments, treating immigrants like Enoch Powell would. Read up on his arguments and realize how similar you sound. Anyway, this tangent is closed. Thanks.


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