Sakanaka Hidenori’s latest paper on assimilation of NJ now translated into English, full text


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Hi Blog. Sakanaka Hidenori, head of the Japan Immigration Policy Institute and author of Nyuukan Senki (his experiences within Japan’s Immigration Bureau), has just had his most recent paper translated into English. is proud to feature this paper downloadable in full here, with an excerpt immediately below.

Sakanaka-san has written for before, and his 2007 work, “A New Framework for Japan’s Immigration Policies” can be found here. He has taken great efforts to encourage immigration policy within Japan (his prognosis on “Big Japan vs. Small Japan” is worth considering).

Now for his latest, translated by Kalu Obuka. Excerpt, then full download. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

Towards a Japanese-style Immigration Nation
Japan Immigration Policy Institute
Executive Director SAKANAKA Hidenori
Translated by Kalu Obuka

1 Policies towards non-Japanese in a shrinking society 9
2 Robots to the rescue? 11
3 Immigrants will save Japan 13
4 Getting revolutionary immigration policies on the political agenda 16
5 Envisioning a Japanese-style immigration policy 20
6 10 million immigrants: A strategy for building a new Japan 24
7 Immigration policies that develop human resources 30
8 Successful policies towards foreign students,
successful policies towards immigration 34
9 Corporate social responsibility 36
10 Revitalising Japanese farmland with 50,000 immigrants 39
11 Multiethnic societies are “spicy” societies 43
12 The demographic crisis: an opportunity to create a multiethnic nation 45
13 The development of social workers for immigrants is essential 49
14 Japanese language education and multiethnic education 51
15 The Japanese can create a multiethnic society 56
16 50 years later: An illustration of an immigrant nation 58

Full 64-page Word file from

As the population crisis deepens Japanese youth, perhaps due to increasing uncertainty about the future, are in a state of malaise. I hear that the number of Japanese who choose to study overseas has fallen. Indeed it certainly seems as though the number of young people with an interest in the world has dropped, while the number of those who choose to shut themselves up within Japan’s borders has risen. I wonder if in the age of population decline Japan is becoming an insular country.

What can be done to tackle the population crisis and offer hope for a bright future? I believe the answer to that question is to open the doors to immigrants, and entrust our younger generations with the dream of a multiethnic society. This ideal society will stir up the passions of young Japanese. Over several years, my desire to provide a national vision that could captivate young people from Japan, and across the world has culminated in this work. What is presented here is a concept for accepting ten million immigrants over the next fifty years, tackling the problems of our low fertility rate, and rapidly aging population by building a new nation with immigrants.

Should this concept be made a reality, we can expect the cooperation of an additional ten million young people, which ought to significantly ease the burden the aging of our population will place on those under thirty. Immigrants will be thought of as comrades by the birth decline generation, who would be forced to drastically adapt to our population crisis. Immigrants will not simply be brought in to rescue us from population crisis however, they are also the driving force that will change us from a country will high levels of homogeneity to a country rich with diversity.

What I most want to emphasise is that we must create a country that can give dreams to immigrants if we are to revive Japan by opening the doors to immigration. My vision has received support from elites in every field who are concerned about the fate of the nation and society. The Japan Immigration Policy Institute was formed as a base from which the work needed to achieve this vision could be carried out.

We are building a new Japan. Working towards a revolution similar to the Meiji Restoration. In order to be successful, this kind of project requires those in their twenties and thirties to rise to action, like Takasugi Shinsaku and Sakamoto Ryoma did during the Bakumatsu period (1853-1868). I am waiting for a Japanese generation X to open up a path to the future.

This book is an immigrant nation manifesto. It will discuss the process of forming Japanese-style immigration policy, and its future prospects, the synthesis of an immigrant nation, the specific mechanisms through which immigrants will be accepted, and a vision of the Japanese immigration nation of the future.

The people I most want to read this book are the immigrants who will work hand in hand with the younger generation to establish a multiethnic society. Should this booklet succeed in acting as a guiding light to a Japanese nation of immigrants, I would be overjoyed.

August 2009.

Sakanaka Hidenori
Executive Director Japan Immigration Policy Institute.


Full 64-page Word file from

11 comments on “Sakanaka Hidenori’s latest paper on assimilation of NJ now translated into English, full text

  • “they are also the driving force that will change us from a country will high levels of homogeneity to a country rich with diversity.”

    That’s it? That’s the most important thing he can think of after decades of critical articles on Japan? Forget immigration then, lets wait until Japan is REALLY at a crossroads and the consequences of insularity are bigger. Then immigrants can be expected to be treated fairy since Japan will have no choice in the matter….

  • Is the original Japanese version of this paper available online? I have some non-English-speaking friends that would probably be interested in reading it.

    Tom R:

    At the very least, it’s a step (leap?) in the right direction. I definitely prefer it to Gaijin Hanzai ura fairu and similar garbage.

    — I’m not sure it’s available online, but you can get the published pamphlet from JIPI (I did) at

  • I was happily reading it until he gets to the part in the beginning of 2009 the Japanese government successfully deployed policies to keep foreign workers in Japan during the economic slump. So to all the Nikkeijin that the government said here is three grand and now GTFO of my country are somehow not part of the foreign workers that the government tried to protect? Well, if you want to be technical they are residents, not foreigners. And somehow they are not part of the Immigrants he is talking about either. :/

    I quickly stopped reading after he started hypothesizing about how Obama might read his artical and being a son of an immigrant he would instantly know all about the points he is trying to get across. Seriously…Here I thought it was going to be a provocative essay about future plans for immigration not some guy digging for some hope that someone might find him to be a revolutionary in Japanese history, while not actually laying down anything concrete enough to be a revolutionary. :/

  • Kevin says: “Here I thought it was going to be a provocative essay about future plans for immigration not some guy digging for some hope that someone might find him to be a revolutionary in Japanese history, while not actually laying down anything concrete enough to be a revolutionary.”

    IMHO, after some thought, the issue is that while he continuously brushes up against the real elephant in the room, he fails to address it. That is fear of foreigners. I’ve come to believe that the only way to deal with that is a legal and social framework that “Outsiders” fit into so they aren’t “Outsiders” anymore (and I don’t mean registering at the Ward Office). Then, the logic of immigration can be argued… until then it’s tilting at windmills.

    Politics is the art of the possible. It seems possible (Pick someone in the DJP to cozy with) to draft and introduce into debate something sold as a path for foreigners to disrupt society less ;^). eg, documents equivalent to and exchangeable for Koseki when such-and-such occurs triggering the possibility of Naturalization, for instance. Hoops defined and persistence leads to the light at the end of the tunnel. No oncoming train. Then you can expand the experiment. Now that everybody “belongs”, you can start (talking about it that way) from there.

  • @ Dan

    The English translation is of the supplemented version of the essays. The downloadable file is the older version. A hard copy of the supplemented booklet is available from JIPI. Shoot them an email.

  • Jeff – good point. Japan’s laws are vague for a reason – the government likes them this way. That, or, there has not been organized efforts for change. IMHO, the average Japanese citizen will not see a tangible benefit to granting a legal framework that clarifies and protects the rights of foreigners/immigrants – thus, the lack of political interest. In every case of assimilation (on a national level) that I have studied, the paths are similar – but the results differ by country. Japan’s current legal/social resistance to further immigration (fear of foreigners?) is indicative of what we can expect to see in the coming years.

    Like any group that views themselves as ‘homogeneous’, they do not identify with people outside their group – so they (largely) just don’t care. My question is – how do we make the average Japanese care about the plight of foreigners/immigrants in Japan?

    — Hmm. By telling people that strengthening, for example, labor laws for NJ means they get strengthened for all workers too?

  • @ …here is an excerpt of an interesting paper I found that might be worth discussing on your forum:

    The key is to not objectify differences but to somehow incorporate them into the fabric of society whether they are minorities or not all people have basic needs once those are met they will integrate into any society regardless of language, culture, customs or race. All people in Japan need to feel they belong and are equal regardless of their background or heritage. This is the first stage of multiculturalism which needs to be cultivated and nurtured very slowly if it is to grow. Once Japan can accommodate the diverse multitudes that already exist it will be ready to introduce more robust immigration. Otherwise Japan is destined to repeat the mistakes of Canada and Australia, where multiculturalism was born out of a need to stabilize society and curb the racism and discrimination born out of massive, unchecked immigration.

    The paper is called: ‘Multiculturalism and the Pan-Pacific Sphere: A Comparative Analysis of Canada, Australia and Japan.’ by Andrew Reimann, Utsunomiya University Academic Information Repository, 2009 (


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