Hi Blog. Well, well. Common sense does eventually trickle uphill after all. The GOJ is finally considering immigration as a possibility for Japan’s future. The Reuters article below touches upon that, but does not mention some important things: The creation of a “Immigration Agency” (Imin cho–as in an agency to manage an imported population growth strategy, not the one we have now that merely polices you, taxes you with Re-Entry Permits, and tries to reset your visa clock to void your getting Permanent Residency). And reduce the 10-year requirement for PR to 7 years. Or, most importantly (I can’t see how they could have left this out!) over the next fifty years increase the NJ population to 10% of Japan’s population, meaning 10 million people (as opposed to the two million plus we have now)!
You can see more on these unturned stones in the previous Japanese blog entry, in an article from the Yomiuri.
This is a revolutionary proposal, make no mistake. And if the GOJ takes measures to warm the Japanese population up to the idea (not to mention passing laws against discrimination by race and national origin), so much the smoother the transition for everyone. Good positive steps here. Debito
Japan should welcome skilled foreign workers-panel
Reuters, June 10, 2008. Courtesy of Colin
TOKYO, June 10 (Reuters) – Japan should open its doors to more skilled workers from abroad in order to boost economic growth, the government’s top advisory panel said on Tuesday.
The council called on the government to come up with programmes by the end of this fiscal year to create a business and living environment that would attract highly skilled workers from around the globe.
“It is impossible to achieve economic growth in the future if we do not press forward with the ‘open country’ policy,” the Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy said in its annual growth plan, which was released on Tuesday.
The panel, which is chaired by Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda, did not set a specific target for the number of foreign workers. There were 158,000 foreigners in Japan with visas categorised as skilled workers in 2006.
The strategy also includes a plan to nearly triple the number of foreign students to 300,000 by 2020 as well as increase foreign visitors to 10 million in 2010 from 8.35 million in 2007.
The proposals, many of which have already been partly announced by government ministries and panels, will be incorporated into the government’s annual policy guidelines to be released by the end of June.
Following are key points of the growth plan:
— Extend assistance to 2.2 million people who are having difficulties finding jobs because of their age, childcare problems or their lack of experience.
— Discuss tax reforms, including corporate tax of nearly 40 percent, to boost foreign direct investment.
— Introduce reforms to induce repatriation of corporate funds held at overseas affiliates, in order to promote spending on research and job creation at home.
— Increase the number of countries with which Japan forms an economic partnership to 12 countries and areas by early next year from currently nine.
(Reporting by Yuzo Saeki)
UPDATE–WITH A MUCH BETTER ARTICLE
Liberal Democratic Party lawmakers made an ambitious proposal Thursday to raise the ratio of immigrants in Japan to about 10 percent over the next 50 years.
The frankness of the suggestion reflects the seriousness of Japan’s population decline, which is marked by a rapid increase in the elderly population and a falling birthrate that threatens to undermine future economic growth.
“There is no effective cure to save Japan from a population crisis,” the proposal said. “In order for Japan to survive, it must open its doors as an international state to the world and shift toward establishing an ‘immigrant nation’ by accepting immigrants and revitalizing Japan.”
Headed by ex-LDP Secretary General Hidenao Nakagawa, the group of about 80 lawmakers drafted a “Japanese-model immigration policy” that they plan to submit to Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda next week.
The group said its definition of “immigrant” is the same as that used by the United Nations, and can count individuals who have lived outside their home countries for more than 12 months. This includes asylum-seekers, people on state or corporate training programs, and even exchange students.
In what might be the government’s first time using the word “immigrant” in this context, the proposal calls for enacting a law that specifies Japan’s basic principles and policies on immigrants.
It also says immigration policy should place importance on nurturing the talent of newcomers, adding that providing more education and training opportunities is indispensable.
In addition, an “immigration agency” should be set up within three years to unify the management of foreigner-related affairs, including legal issues such as nationality and immigration control.
“This (proposal) covers a wide range of issues that need to be taken care of both in the short term and the long term, but as members of the legislature, we’re determined to make the necessary changes to the law,” Nakagawa said, noting the group will ask its peers in the ruling and opposition camps for their support. “We’re going to move swiftly.”
According to Immigration Bureau data, the number of registered foreigners in Japan set a record high of about 2.08 million in 2006. Among them, permanent residents have continued to grow, reaching 837,000, or 40 percent, of all registered foreigners in 2006.
Hirohiko Nakamura, an Upper House lawmaker and secretary general of the LDP group, said increasing the recognition of refugees is also on their agenda. The group proposes accepting up to 1,000 asylum-seekers and other foreigners who need protection for humanitarian reasons.
The proposal also said a foreigner who has lived in Japan for 10 years or longer should be given nationality if the person wishes to become a Japanese citizen. The group also says citizenship should be given to all permanent residents.