GOJ Panel: Japan should welcome skilled foreign workers, also create Immigration Agency, and increase the NJ population to 10 million!

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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

http://uk.reuters.com/article/marketsNewsUS/idUKT28006320080610

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)

ENDS

——————————-

UPDATE–WITH A MUCH BETTER ARTICLE

Let 10% of Japan be foreigners: Nakagawa
The Japan Times: Friday, June 13, 2008
By MASAMI ITO and SETSUKO KAMIYA Staff writers
Courtesy of Peter

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.

The Japan Times: Friday, June 13, 2008
ENDS

18 comments on “GOJ Panel: Japan should welcome skilled foreign workers, also create Immigration Agency, and increase the NJ population to 10 million!

  • we all know the GOJ, all too well. this is the same stuff that they were talking about when obuchi was in office remember? they just recycled the same old junk again, talk is cheap. how about passing some laws now, not later..lets be honest, japan will never have a open door policy towards immigration, not in my lifetime anyway..frankly speaking how can we believe the GOJ this time when they cant even make the foreignors that are already here feel welcome? how do they expect to attract skilled workers? show me some new policy GOJ!

  • IMHO two things are at work and they are destined to clash. The bureaucrats know that increasing immigration is the only real solution. They are not blind. But the politicians are. They still cling to the “one race” fallacy. So you have the situation at hand now. My fear is this situation may create a immigration policy that is a step backward.

  • J-Jobseeker says:

    I think it is interesting that all these “positive” proposals are coming at a time Japan/Tokyo is trying to win the bid for the 2016 Olympics. My feeling is this is a dog and pony show for the IOC. Once they get the bid (and I really hope they don’t and would like to help any group trying to stop them), you can bet none of these things will come to fruition…kind of the way China promised a lot of things for the Olympic and have accomplished only the bare minimum of their promises.

  • Who would come?

    Is it enough to graciously permit when it’s too late and then rigorously, fastidiously filter? Is this really enough or does it occur to them that even foreigners have some feelings, life, pride and goal to achieve? What hope foreign workers could have when even they own workers live in such a misery, as the Akihabara killer dispatched worker, that they can hardly afford decent life, having their own children, wife, family. There are so many of them like he was. What on earth could they offer apart from their rigid, over disciplined, obedient life and choosey (age and gender) discriminative employment policy?

    Promises! Japanese politicians always address the public but they only talk to each other (or to themselves).

    –K.A., I’m going to have to agree with other posters here: it would probably make your arguments stronger if you didn’t speak in such “us and them” terms, and tried to be a little more sophisticated in your portrayal of social or sociological phenomena…

  • Based on my personal experience, the nightmare for many educated Japanese is flood of skilled immigrants and loosing job as they consider themselves too weak and looser in equal condition competition. The problem is their social security system. If they put an assurance for Japanese who loose their job because of immigrants influx, the nation will accept foreigners. As long as an immigrant means a jobless Japanese person, they won’t welcome immigrants.
    A 10% diverse foreign employees in a Japanese company will boost incredibly the business performance and power of that company and also later create new jobs Look at Nissan as a model and its future success in south Asia market

    However this report seems to be a propaganda, to fool some talented people, to waste, best part of their life here.

  • zero abrera says:

    at tornadoes28

    to address the concern of lower skilled workers, perhaps creating opportunities for those who are stuck (or made to be stuck) in the “unskilled” labor categories might not be a bad idea, no?

    and i second j-jobseeker`s point.

  • You are only one man but it looks like that Yomiuri article was out a few days before you noticed it to post it. I would have thought that your activism ought to have put you in touch with such groups in the LDP or at least been made aware of them. I like your work but if you don’t know them and they don’t know you then are you speaking to the right people?

    –Sorry for the delay.

  • i think its quite radical in some ways in that it is saying that anyone who has been in japan for more than 10yrs or has pr should
    be given japanese citizenship if they request it..
    (however still doesnt address the dual citizenship issue)

  • I’m sure this wacky proposal, that Japan needs foreigners (pft!), will slash LDPs credibility.

    Why are they selfinflicting these wounds? It can’t all be because of the Olympics, as some previous poster hinted.

    On a side-note: As much as I am for a proposal like this (I am sure it will never get enacted, though), I can’t see how A couple of more million skilled foreign workers will bring up the declining population up to speed.

    …Assuming not all want to have babies with Japanese nationals. Assuming that skilled workers replace unskilled Japanese workers (and in turn makes it harder for J to cultivate family/kids). Assuming not all want to come here to stay -that long-.

    Skilled workers, right?

    http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20080613a2.html

  • How come they are talking about citizenship after 10 years when right now the qualifying time is 5 (or three years if married)? Or do they mean automatic citizenship without being disqualified for things like parking tickets?

    An Canadian-style ‘three years and you can have citizenship’ (subject to Japanese ability and background checks of course) would be great, but I hope they don’t do anything silly like request PR before citizenship.

  • It ain’t the late newflash. These people want what you want so you should know them but you don’t. A high profile activist should know who’s on his side.

  • Liva the Viva says:

    What’s the use of mass immigration if immigrants’ human rights never got mentioned in the panel’s recommendation? If immigrant’s human rights were not protected, their children would suffer too, from this bullying society where the weak hardly survived.

  • i wonder why the GOJ, is talking about increaseing immigration when first they should be talking about making new LAWS to stop discrimination and human rights abuses against foreignors..oops i forgot this is japan..
    they just need cheap foreign labor and a steady tax revenue to pay for there salary bonuses..

  • zero abrera says:

    jim Says:
    June 15th, 2008 at 12:29 pm
    i wonder why the GOJ, is talking about increaseing immigration when first they should be talking about making new LAWS to stop discrimination and human rights abuses against foreignors..oops i forgot this is japan..
    they just need cheap foreign labor and a steady tax revenue to pay for there salary bonuses..

    may we consider the possibility of the attempts to address the nenkin (pension) problem? (i.e. the gap between the retiree and working demographic) or maybe i`m thinking too much.

  • Japan should be focusing on developing skilled workers themselves too. They used to be famous for them. What happened?

  • Quite an interesting development. As others have commented, I have doubts about the sincerity of this. Having one in ten of the population being foreigners would be such a radical shift for the Japanese. They’d see it as gravely detrimental to their societal balance.

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