Guardian on benefits of immigration to UK, NW on GOJ’s history promoting anti-racism 90 years ago at League of Nations!


Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「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)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito
DEBITO.ORG PODCASTS now on iTunes, subscribe free

Hi Blog.  NW sent me two poignant articles some time ago.  Sorry for the delay.  Here they are.  One is germane to the recent comments here about whether immigration offers economic benefits to societies (an article in The Guardian in 2007 citing a PriceWaterhouseCoopers study indicates that it has for the UK).  Another is an evergreen letter to the editor (which went unpublished) about Japan’s historical record advocating anti-racism 90 years ago in the League of Nations.   Arudou Debito in Sapporo


Hi Debito.  Two things for you to blog:

1. Merits of immigration
2. What should the GOJ give to make Japan more attractive for immigrants?

1. Merits of immigration

The UK experience – PricewaterhouseCoopers 2007 Report
Migrants have lifted economy, says study
· Influx of labour ‘has kept interest rates down’
· British-born workers have not been disadvantaged

Angela Balakrishnan, The Guardian, Tuesday 27 February 2007

The flow of migrant workers into the UK has boosted economic growth and helped keep a lid on inflation without undermining the jobs of British-born workers, according to a study released yesterday.

The report by accountancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers enters a vigorous debate about whether immigration has a positive impact on the UK economy.

Britain was one of three nations that allowed free movement of labour after eight countries entered the EU in 2004, including Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and Estonia. Most of the migrants from all of these new EU countries – estimated at half a million – have moved to the UK, although evidence suggests half of them have since returned home.

PwC’s research found that the new arrivals had pushed growth above its long-term trend and helped keep inflationary pressures and interest rates lower by increasing the supply of labour relative to demand.

Average earnings growth has been relatively subdued recently, at just under 4% excluding bonuses, and PwC said migrant workers had contributed to this. This finding supports the view of Professor David Blanchflower of the Bank of England’s monetary policy committee, who has voted to keep interest rates on hold on the basis of slack in the labour market.

The Treasury has also increasingly focused on the impact of migration, citing expected net migration as a key reason for raising its estimate of future economic growth to 2.75% from 2.5% in last December’s pre-budget report.

The PwC report found that although migrant workers had increased the supply of labour in the UK, there had not been any adverse effects on the employment prospects of British-born workers. “[Migrant] workers tend to be relatively productive and have filled important skills gaps in the UK labour market rather than just displacing UK-born workers,” said John Hawksworth, chief economist at PwC.

The public finances have also not suffered as a result of the influx of migrant workers, the study finds. Most migrants are aged between 18 and 34 years, with high employment rates compared with their UK equivalents, and therefore benefit payments are low. They also receive comparatively low wages despite their good education and skills levels. Younger workers have fewer dependants and so are unlikely to be an additional burden on public services, the report says.

But Mr Hawksworth said the extra pressures on transport and housing might offset this slightly and should be taken into account in the forthcoming government spending review.

“Public spending projections do not appear to have been revised up in the pre-budget report to reflect higher future assumed migration, which suggests that on a per capita basis the squeeze on public spending growth pencilled in for the next spending review period may be even tighter than earlier projected,” he said.

The benefits highlighted by Mr Hawksworth contrast with comments from Richard Lambert, director-general of the CBI. The head of Britain’s leading employers’ organisation said last year that the government should be wary of introducing an open-door policy to new workers from Romania and Bulgaria, which joined the EU this year. Mr Lambert warned that depending on migrant labour could mean skill levels of UK citizens would not be raised sufficiently and could risk damaging social cohesion.



2. What should the GOJ give to make Japan more attractive for immigrants?

Give us the vote – below is an unpublished letter I submitted to the Japan Times in December 2009:

A Missed Anniversary

It seems an anniversary went unnoticed in 2009. Ninety years ago, in the aftermath of the blood-soaked trenches of the First World War, the ill-fated precursor of the United Nations, the League of Nations, was founded, with the hope of securing lasting peace. Established at the behest of the Paris Peace Conference, the League’s Covenant was signed by 44 states on 28 June 1919.

Discussions for what should be included in the Covenant were not without controversy, notably the following proposal: “The equality of nations being a basic principle of the League of Nations, the High Contracting Parties agree to accord, as soon as possible, to all alien nationals of states members of the League, equal and just treatment in every respect, making no distinction, either in law or fact, on account of their race or nationality.”

Unsurprisingly, Great Britain and its Dominions of Canada, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand saw the proposal as a threat to “white” colonial power and swiftly engineered its rejection – an act of superpower sabotage not unknown to today’s UN conferences.

Perhaps surprising, especially to letter writers whose advice to foreign residents with complaints about their lives here is to put up, shut up, or leave, is that the proposal was put forward by Japan’s Foreign Minister Nobuaki Makino.

What the League had failed to recognize, the United Nations General Assembly in 1948 declared in Article One of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: “All human beings are created free and equal in dignity and rights.”

The League of Nations held its first council meeting January 1920. Ninety years on, perhaps we can look forward to Baron Makino’s plea being at last realized – for foreign residents in Japan to be accorded “equal and just treatment in every respect”. The right to vote would be a start.


All the best…   NW


4 comments on “Guardian on benefits of immigration to UK, NW on GOJ’s history promoting anti-racism 90 years ago at League of Nations!

  • It’s well known that Japan submitted that proposal to the League. Even the racist Tomagomai boasted about it in his ‘essay’ that got him fired as General.

    But this makes the situation in Japan today even more exasperating and hypocritical.

    So Japan was the FIRST to promote a law to outlaw racism among the Leauge of Nations member states when at the time IT WOULD HAVE BENEFITED THE MOST, but it is now the LAST to outlaw racism (or more specifically, IT STILL HAS YET TO DO SO) in its own country when OTHERS (i.e. GAIJIN) WOULD BENEFIT.

    Again, the calculus for Japan in all these matters is very simple “Does it benefit Team Japan?” Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

    Promote an anti-racism law nearly a century ago when Japanese were moving overseas and learning the ropes of the Western powers (but few if any foreigners were living in Japan)? Sure!

    Outlaw racism in Japan when mostly foreigners (and some Japanese of foreign extraction) would benefit? Hell no! Why would Team Japan want to do something like that?! After all, it has the best of both worlds! Team Japan isn’t subject to racism overseas because the entire civilized world has outlawed racism. And yet Team Japan can continue on its own turf to discriminate against foreigners free of penalty!

    If you understand this mindset, it becomes easy to see why the Japanese are in no hurry anymore to promote the anti-racism laws they promoted nearly a century ago.

  • Historically Japan was the subject to many unfair treaties prior to WWII. One of the many reasons why the Meji restoration happened was to correct these unfair treaties.
    In those days the world was extremely white supremacist and Japan tried extremely hard to be included as an equal within the world powers.

    It is my personal belief that the current Japanese goverment is really only interested equality when it makes Japan look good within the eyes of the world, but only so long as it doesn’t cost Japan anything. I.e. doesn’t expose Japan’s dirty laundry.

    It is depressing to have such a negative view, but Japan isn’t alone in this.I am sure many countries feel the same way. Case and point being Arizona. :/

  • >Case and point being Arizona. :/

    Not really sure what this means. I know it’s PC to bash Arizona these days, but in its defense,

    1) It does have laws banning racial discrimination unlike Japan.

    2) It has more illegal residents than Japan in both absolute and relative terms (remember, Arizona is a state with only 6.5 million residents, and yet approx 400,000 are estimated to be illegal!). Japan is a country with 127 million, and yet only 100,000-300,000 are estimated to be illegal.

    3) Despite having a real problem with illegal immigration, which Japan does not, Arizona is banning its police force from racial profiling in determining who to question about their residency status (whether that is possible or not is arguable, but they’re at least trying to make an effort which Japan is not). Japan, which I emphasize does not have a major problem with illegal immigration, allows its police force to practice racial profiling freely (I should know, I’ve been on the receiving end of this many a time).

    So despite all the bad press, I wouldn’t equate Arizona with Japan. When you put things in context, Japan is still the outlier.

  • The Japanese proposal was pretty hypocritical to begin with. Note that it bans discrimination by any member state against aliens of other races, but not against the state’s own citizens/subjects–so Japanese people in the British dominions would be protected, but Koreans in Japan would not be.


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>