NY Consulate Japan’s Kawamura Yasuhisa offers more rosy picture of immigration to Japan in NYT Letter to the Editor


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. As is good gaiatsu media policy, when we have somebody saying something discomfiting about Japan in overseas media, the GOJ’s Gaijin Handlers will step in to present the “Official View” (would be interesting if, say, the USG did more of that in Japan’s media).

Here’s the Japan Consulate in New York doing just that, with Mr. Kawamura earning his keep by presenting in the NYT the preferred image of Japan overseas — not of a country with policies that do not encourage NJ to stay and become immigrants, but rather of a country that seems more welcoming.

Even though he says in the opening and infers in the closing that foreign labor (not immigration, again) is of questionable suitability for “our” economy. And let’s neglect to mention the first drop in the NJ population for nearly a half-century in 2009. Besides, we have the “vaporware” policy of doubling some other numbers of temporary influx (students and foreign workers (not immigrants) — again, under policies no doubt that encourage people to give the best years of their working lives to us and then be sent “home” despite their investments). I think the concluding sentence offers the biggest lie: Japan will not “continue to find” the best policy mix, but will “continue to search for”.

(BTW, the original title of the article was, “Its Workers Aging, Japan Turns Away Immigrants”.  Yet within 48 hours it was was mysteriously softened to “Despite Shortage, Japan Keeps a High Wall for Foreign Labor”.  Seems the gaiatsu has made the word “immigration” a taboo topic for overseas newspapers too.)

Have a beer, Mr. Kawamura. You’ve discharged your duty well. Arudou Debito


Foreign Workers in Japan: An Official View
The New York Times, published January 18, 2011
Courtesy JLO


To the Editor:

Despite Shortage, Japan Keeps a High Wall for Foreign Labor” (“The Great Deflation” series, front page, Jan. 3) oversimplifies a complex situation and seems to present foreign labor as a cure-all for Japan’s aging and declining population.

The article also appears to embrace clichés about Japanese homogeneity without pointing out recent policy changes. Japan is not walling itself off; quite the opposite is true.

In its new growth strategy, the Japanese government recognized the value of skilled foreign workers and their contributions to economic growth. Japan aims to double its skilled foreign work force by 2020 and to double the number of students from abroad that it welcomes, up to 300,000.

This policy reinforces the encouraging growth in the number of registered foreign residents. Despite a recent drop noted in your article, over the past 10 years registered foreigners in Japan have increased by almost 40 percent (from 1.6 million to 2.2 million). Japan faces tough economic and demographic challenges. But Japan will continue to find the policy mix that works best for our society and our economy.

Yasuhisa Kawamura
Director, Japan Information Center
Consulate General of Japan
New York, Jan. 14, 2011


9 comments on “NY Consulate Japan’s Kawamura Yasuhisa offers more rosy picture of immigration to Japan in NYT Letter to the Editor

  • It would be interesting to see the true figure of “registered foreigners” when you take away temporary unskilled workers, students and English teachers.

    Still, Japan’s lack of openness to immigration will be their own downfall. Who cares if they try and spin a welcoming image for the next few decades? The only people that bother are the foreigners who already live here and face the reality.

    — Answer to the first query: You would probably still not take away the majority of registered NJ. Extrapolate from here. Not sure what you mean by a “true registered foreigner”, however.

  • Thanks for the informative link. I guess I showed my ignorance on the matter. I guess my point was that I saw a great deal of the registered foreigner demographic as being merely temporary… as you mentioned in regards to immigrants giving “the best years of their life to Japan”. I totally forgot that the Zainichi would be regarded as registered foreigners…

    — And don’t forget the Regular Permanent Residents too. They aren’t temporary either, and together with the Zainichis they make up more than 40% of the total.

  • Debito, check out the FCCJ recording of Keidanren chair Yonekura this afternoon. He was explicit about why Japan needs immigration and how much of the opposition to immigration is based on a myth of homogeneity.

    — Thanks. But Keidanren has been saying something like this for years now, alas, using it to justify Trainee/Researcher Visas etc. See here, here, and here, for example. Is this anything new? Good to hear, anyway. How can we hear the recording?

  • The Japanese Consul in New York can say practically anything, and most Americans will let it just pass by like a breeze. Japan is a very closed country to Americans, and America; but wants a lot from us.

    A small handful of elites and shills are more than happy to bang the drum for Japan in any event. The Japanese learned a long time ago that taking care of a select handful does wonders for publicity.

    I read that NYT story and I think the Times had it about right. No one is going to spend 10 years becoming an expert in Japanese without a solid guarantee that there will be a continuing job there for him or her. Since no NJs are seeking native-level Japanese proficiency, Japan merely has to play Card One. They don’t have to play Card Two (language ability but person is gaikokujin and that could cause issues) or Card Three (ethnic Japanese born in America but does not understand the “wa”).

  • crustpunker says:

    What this statement doesn’t address is the longevity of most foreign workers in Japan. What is the average term of stay for most workers in terms of skilled/unskilled labor. Is there any data on that out there I wonder? Also, I can’t help but notice that there is ZERO mention of HOW Japan plans to…

    “double its skilled foreign work force by 2020 and to double the number of students from abroad that it welcomes, up to 300,000.”

    Just by saying that does not make it so.

    What can Japan offer to students coming from abroad in terms of education and future career prospects in Japan? From where I sit, sweet F… all. What on earth would make a student want to come all the way to Japan to study? (except the usual fandom in anime, games, pop culture and J-girls or boys…)

    Mr. Kawamura is belching total kak if ye ask me.

  • FWIW, a couple of years ago I got a questionnaire which mentioned a plan to give out extended 10y visas to students, to encourage them to stay and get jobs in Japan after graduation. I was strongly hostile, on the grounds that treading water in junior post-doc positions for a few years with negligible prospects for a permanent position here would basically destroy their careers (with high probability). I’m very dubious that Japan can fill the “quota” for foreigners without radically rethinking its revolving-door approach to us. OTOH maybe such extended visas actually are a step towards rethinking their approach, as many people will put down roots in that time frame. But many others will end up on the discard pile…

    (I don’t know if the plan itself is still on the agenda.)

  • The recordings are available to members via the website I think. Not sure if non-members can get them on request or not.

    — Here’s a Jiji article on it, courtesy KM.



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>