JT/Kyodo: Immigration Bureau to be upgraded to Immigration Agency April 2019. Baby steps towards Immigration Ministry with actual immigration policy?


Books, eBooks, and more from Dr. Debito Arudou (click on icon):
Guidebookcover.jpgjapaneseonlyebookcovertextHandbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)sourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumbFodorsJapan2014cover
UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito
DEBITO.ORG PODCASTS on iTunes, subscribe free
“LIKE” US on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/debitoorg
If you like what you read and discuss on Debito.org, please consider helping us stop hackers and defray maintenance costs with a little donation via my webhoster:
Donate towards my web hosting bill!
All donations go towards website costs only. Thanks for your support!

Hi Blog. The GOJ is starting to take NJ influx more seriously now, with a ministerial upgrade (from Bureau to Agency). When it becomes a full-fledged Ministry that explicitly says “Immigration” in it (as in, Imin-Shou), not a “Bureau/Agency for Processing National Influx” (which is what the Nyuukoku Kanri Kyoku literally is), with an actual Immigration Policy, then Debito.org will be a bit more cheery.  That raises hope that the GOJ will someday actually want NJ to stay and become productive members of society and citizens, not revolving-door visa recipients.  But baby steps for now. What say Debito.org Readers about this? Dr. Debito Arudou

Japan will overhaul Immigration Bureau to create agency for expected surge of blue-collar workers under new status
Full article at https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/08/28/national/politics-diplomacy/japan-set-immigration-agency-cope-influx-blue-collar-ranks-abroad-new-status/

The Justice Ministry will upgrade its Immigration Bureau to an agency from April to deal with an anticipated influx of foreign workers, Justice Minister Yoko Kamikawa said at a news conference in Tokyo on Tuesday.

With the government seeking to accept more foreign workers from April and introducing a new status of residence amid a serious labor crunch across industries, the Justice Ministry will be conducting “a fundamental revision of the Immigration Bureau” and is currently finalizing the establishment of a new agency that will oversee immigration, Kamikawa said. […]

Media has reported that the upgrade of the bureau will see an increase of over 500 ministry staff and immigration officers, with the latter expected to help the country boost checks for inbound tourists ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.

Reports have also said that the ministry will be requesting about ¥3 billion within their fiscal 2019 budget for outlays related to the overhaul. […]

The upgrade of the Immigration Bureau comes as Japan, facing a declining population and shrinking workforce, plans to open the door to blue-collar laborers from abroad, in addition to the currently accepted highly skilled foreigners, by introducing a new resident status.

The new system will allow foreign nationals who are proficient speakers of Japanese to work in agriculture, construction, hospitality, nursing and shipbuilding, and may be expanded to other sectors.

The government has so far confirmed that foreign workers will not be able to bring family members under the new residency status, and that their stay will be limited to five years.

According to figures provided by the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry, the number of registered foreign workers in the nation hit a record high of 1.28 million in October 2017 — a twofold increase from the 486,398 foreign nationals seen in 2008.

On the other hand, the number of people in Japan aged between 15 to 64 who are capable of working decreased from 86.99 million in 1997 to 76.65 million in 2016, according to data submitted to the Council of Economic Fiscal Policy in February.

Information from Kyodo News added. Full article at https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/08/28/national/politics-diplomacy/japan-set-immigration-agency-cope-influx-blue-collar-ranks-abroad-new-status/

Do you like what you read on Debito.org?  Want to help keep the archive active and support Debito.org’s activities?  Please consider donating a little something.  More details here. Or even click on an ad below.

25 comments on “JT/Kyodo: Immigration Bureau to be upgraded to Immigration Agency April 2019. Baby steps towards Immigration Ministry with actual immigration policy?

  • Jim Di Griz says:

    Hmm, the number of Japanese of working age went down by 10 million (and the rate of decrease will increase), the number of NJ workers increased by half a million to around a million. They are never going to attract enough NJ to make up the shortfall especially with the following restrictions;
    1. Must be proficient in Japanese language.
    2. Must go home after 5 years.
    3. Can’t bring family.

    The Japanese government is deluding itself that millions (literally!) of NJ are Japanese speaking and willing to accept those conditions.

    I expect to see this new ‘Agency’ seek to expand its role and remit from day one in an attempt to secure budgetary resources and political influence. Expect lots of ‘Immigration Agency is protecting you!’ scare stories, and a sudden and pressing need for agency officials to interfere in your work and home life (in close ‘co-ordination’ with the police!) to keep the Japanese public ‘safe’ from you! After all, they can hardly admit that the upgrade in status was unwarranted because millions of NJ didn’t come after all, and agency officials will be unwilling to admit that they have a lack of work and allow budgets to be reduced along with prestige and influence.

  • You would have to be a die-hard optimist to think that this is baby steps towards anything good for foreigners. Experience has always shown the opposite. Fingerprinting, ID cards, exploitation, scapegoating and fearmongering. What are the positive immigration changes that have happened in recent times that I am missing?

  • I’m afraid to say that I agree with the other commentators.

    The Agency may well be framed in terms of the need to manage gaijin control because a lot more gaijin are coming in for the Olympics, and then control and management of gaijin and endless stories about those difficult and different and scary gaijin in the country will ensue. Remember the nets to catch the English branded gaijin soccer animals?

    So we can look forward to the same old endless tropes, with the white or non-black Japan loving gaijin being interviewed and translated through funny faces, the gaijin as funny, or Japan loving, and then the dark side, gaijin as threat, gaijin as mendokusai, gaijin problems arising from the influx for the Olympics on on level, and on the other with the steady drumbeat of how do we deal with all these lower-class Asian types we need to clean our shit up and lay concrete for the Jiminto-Construction Corporate Yakuza Companies, etc. etc.

    I’m sure we can expect the press to start running hundreds of othering stories and downright racist and xenophobic sewage will start flooding the meeja in the runup. After all, state-sanctioned othering has been mandated from the very top with the “Omotenashi” sales point.

    In fact, having more Orypmikku gaijin and THEN and endless revolving door slave labor is a godsend for the bureaucrats, creating a reason d’etre for the need for an agency for gaijin control!

    I wouldn’t read too much into the change of name. The U.S. Ministry of War used to call it correct, until it became the Ministry of Defense, and now needs a trillion dollars and tens of thousands of nukes to precision bomb the shit out of peasants in places you’ve never heard of to defend the Homeland.

    So a bit like endless war, you can have endless gaijin control. The way things are going, eventually they’ll be chipping us, because fingerprinting and criminalizing us on entry and each new entry (perhaps us fiendish gaijin types have tried to file down our finger prints so we can go off and steal money from ATMs) isn’t enough.

    Real public safety requires 24/7 monitoring! So the “Ministry of Justice” I think will go for chipping us. Of course, if they really wanted to know what we are doing 24/7 all they have to do is ask the NSA or Google.

    • They don’t have to ask NSA or Google. Edward Snowdon has already said that the US gave the Japanese the tool to surveil us from our computers and smartphones already. I posted a link about it on Debito.org.

    • This would totally make sense, given how the minpaku law was passed under the assumption that all NJ are criminals and terrorists. So the LDP decided a bill was necessary to keep NJ away from the general populace.

      Baby steps to promote immigration? I think baby steps to creating an apartheid system is more like it. Given how hard it is for NJ to even get regular rental housing in Japan, the minpaku law is like adding injury to insult.

      No doubt, this so-called “immigration bureau” will be used to further track NJ in detail of where you are living, whether you are a tourist, a student, an intern or even on a business trip you will be tracked. I am also worried if hotels, rentals and short term rentals will be forced to submit personal information of NJ tenants to this “bureau” in the future.

      Citizens and residents don’t need to provide ID now, but will this somehow change in the future? so that this “immigration bureau” can watch our every move?

      Perhaps where NJ are allowed to live will need to be approved by this new department in the future? Maybe some folks in the LDP are trying to experiment with an apartheid system but are afraid of the international backlash to outright state it. Instead the J-Gov will start with baby steps and call it anything but apartheid.

      Last but not least, this might be a stretch but does anyone think that the whole Olympics event is part of a greater strategy to revise the constitution? The J-Gov, by bringing lots of tourists and along with some “interns” to Japan, then have the media spin some stories and try to scare and convince the people that all the foreigners arriving to Japan are just plain out just to get them and make life miserable for everyone. Sounds absurd? but hey any reasoning goes in Japan as long as it sound good, and is what nationalists would like to hear.

      While tourism and Olympics should be all about fun, I wonder if the Abe government and J-media will try to scare the populace with xenophobic stories, so I would not be surprised to see “2020 lots of scary NJ comming to Japan!!”, “tourists or terrorists?”, “We need strong army now!”, “support constitutional revision!”.

      I have always felt that Japan never viewed tourists as tourists, especially since Abe came to power since 2012 if you look at what is being said in J-media and how people react to tourists like with the increase in Japanese-Only signs on business fronts. NJ are constantly portrayed as a one dimensional comic book villainous figure coming to Japan solely to cause trouble for Japanese and nothing else.

      And ever since then it seems NJ are being used and abused at every opportunity by the LDP to further their fascist agenda. Looking at the Olympics 2020 from another angle, it feels as if its sole purpose is a means to an end by the LDP.

    • Excellent link.
      People who say ‘I don’t mind giving up my privacy because I’ve got nothing to hide’ is like saying ‘I don’t mind giving up my right to free speech because I’ve got nothing to say.’

      The problem is that so many people literally have nothing to say.

      • Reminds me of a joke I heard in EFL in Japan (or, EFL in Japan is a joke)
        Why do people with nothing to say study a second language?
        So they can say nothing in TWO languages!

        The Japan that can say…No(thing).

  • “Japan needs a clear immigration strategy”, agreed.

    “Japan has avoided the types of terror incidents in Europe recently by refusing immigration”, err, no. Terror attacks in Europe are consequences of Middle East intervention, not immigration policies.

    “It’s the children of immigrants who become anti-social because of the discrimination they will face”, well, talk about setting people up to fail.

    “Japan should invite foreign artists to come to Japan to fill its blue-collar labor shortage”.


    • Wow, what an embarassment for the JT to have even published that article.

      “Some people say that many asylum-seekers aren’t really refugees but only disguised as such.”

      I love how the writer just leaves that there without challenging it. “Some people say”…you mean, “Racists have spread the lie.” The racist slandering of asylum-seekers is so egregiously devoid of meaning that bringing it up for any other reason than to point out how ridiculous it is, in and of itself serves to reinforce it as a plausible interpretation of reality. It is not. This bit alone is enough to let you know what kind of right-wing nut the author is. But it gets better.

      “But, in reality, it is usually difficult to include every foreigner warmly in certain societies.”

      I love the use of the weasel word “certain.” Yes, immigrants are not always welcomed. This is called “xenophobia” or “racism” and is a social problem. (Looking at you, Japan.) Of course, the author completely fails to even acknowledge or even attempt to address this. (I guess the editor removed the でも、それはしょうがないでしょう proceeding this sentence.)

      Here’s the best one: “Japanese people consciously or unconsciously knew of this ‘inconvenient truth’ and the government restricted its acceptance of immigrants.”

      Ah, yes, right-wing Wajin are incapable of discussing any aspect of Japanese society without talking about “Japanese people” as a supernatural monolithic entity. First, can this author provide any meaningful scholarly source for this claim? If not, let’s go ahead and chalk in an “I’m assuming that” at the beginning of his sentence, then disregard it.

      What is he even trying to claim with this sentence? Current xenophobic and racist attitudes are NOT the consequence of continuous propaganda and indoctrination spanning back to the 1600s? The Tokugawa shogunate introduced sakoku at the behest of the people, who knew foreign trade and immigration would be bad for the nation? This is absurd.

      Of course, when you treat “Japanese people” as a monolithic entity like this kind of right-wing Wajin nut does, the people ruling the country are the “same” as the people being ruled, so I guess we’re left to assume that every person in Japan was in agreement about shutting off contact with the outside world anyway. (Which is, of course, demonstrably false, but I digress.) Where that leaves, for example, Okinawans or Ainu or other Japanese people who were technically not Japanese people in the past, is beyond me.

      On a final note, I love how he completely fails to address the fact that the government makes absolutely no effort to ensure immigrants can smoothly integrate into society. All we ever get are negative messages about immigrants, and yet this idiot takes this position that it’s just unavoidable that people might not have positive atittudes.

      What could the government ever do to facilitate the influx of immigrants? Hmm..maybe stop the “foreign crime” propaganda from the NPA? Maybe have officials openly acknowledge the positive contributions of immigrants to our society? What about a nationwide campaign, akin to the traffic safety crap we’re always being fed, wherein the faces of minorities are shown along with the message “I’m Japanese too”–or, gasp–“I speak Japanese just like you do” followed by “This message brought to you by the Japanese government” or something? Oh, no, none of that would ever work. Guess we’ll never know how to integrate immigrants!

  • Jim Di Griz says:

    If anyone wants to watch that exploitative show, this is a link to a stream;


    It’s predictably disgusting fear mongering; the cops spend one whole month (and massive amounts of tax ¥!) on staking out one (1!) suspected Vietnamese visa over-stayer! Good job boys, I can sleep at night!

    In another segment, they raid a factory and find undocumented NJ workers who they arrest for detaining prior to deportation. How ever will the factory stay in business? We will never know because the JAPANESE FACTORY OWNER never appears on camera. It’s a totally ‘NJ crime’ cleansed of all Japanese complicity. Dishonest ‘reporting’ tailorered to fit an agenda I’ve posted about before; in an era with fewer crimes than ever, Japan has more police than ever, and they are desperate to justify why they are needed when the national debt is so high, and a tax hike is in the offing.

  • Jim Di Griz says:

    Well, this is interesting;

    Mush-mash of an article warns to expect crazier than usual crazies in May, heartwarming tale of people with dementia, and also…

    Former Japan critic(al thinker) turned ‘Cool Japan’ advisory board sell-out Alex Kerr, warning about tourism causing ‘cultural pollution’ and claiming that the ‘quality’ of NJ coming to Japan should be improved!

    Way to slam the door shut behind you Kerr! I guess that now he’s got his snout in the tax payers trough, he’s given up calling out Japan’s missteps, and joined the nationalist bandwagon of Japanese ‘uniqueness’.

    (Whisper) Alex, you’re not one of ‘them’ and they’ll never let you be. Your integrity is worth more than the crumbs they’re giving you, just ask Greg Clark!

    • Japan is getting weirder, that article you posted is proof of that, plus maybe I have been out of Japan too long and lost the energy to decipher what incoherent waffle it is about “matchmaking for a colleague as a way to cope with work” “the restaurant of mistaken orders with 94 year old waiters”, why an extended May holiday is a bad thing (garbled explanation) and I don’t even know what the Reiwa Era is, the article doesn’t explain it.
      Is it an April Fool? Some of it seems Pythonesque except the jokes here are poorly set up so it’s hard to follow.

      Japanese as inscrutable to outsiders again?

  • Jim Di Griz says:

    Just watching the migrant workers in Singapore, and I’ve realized something that I think I’ve failed to verbalize before;
    Japan wants immigrant workers, but wants to deny them social mobility. This is an attempt to keep them powerless and marginalized.
    Compare that to the USA; the American Dream IS the promise of social mobility (and you can put qualifiers on that if you like). That’s why America already was great.

    • Q: Who saw this coming?
      A: I did.


      Unfortunately, it’s not that I’m a genius or fortune teller, it was just blindly obviously predictable.

      “The government is likely to fall far short of its target of issuing work permits under a new visa system to 340,000 non-Japanese over the next five years to alleviate acute labor shortages in 14 sectors.

      As of the end of September, only 219 foreign residents had obtained the “specified skills” visa introduced last April, according to the Immigration Services Agency. The number of people holding the status abroad stood at 1,024 as of Nov. 15.

      Non-Japanese wishing to obtain the specified skills visa are required to pass a test on the skills needed in their desired work sector as well as a Japanese-language proficiency examination. People who have completed the government’s three-year technical intern training program are exempt from taking the test and are allowed to change their visa status to the new one.

      Of the 219 successful applicants, 176, or some 80 percent, received the new visa under the exemption rule. The remaining 43 include 17 who came to Japan as nursing care workers or other participants under economic partnership agreements between Japan and other countries. In other words, only 26 people had obtained the visa by passing the exams.

      The exams have been held in only six countries other than Japan. Vietnam, which has sent the largest number of workers under the internship program, has held no such exams.

      Of the 14 work sectors, which include nursing care, restaurants and agriculture, skills exams have been conducted for only six.

      The new visa system has had a slow start due partly to a lack of preparation in countries sending workers to Japan…”


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>