Mainichi Poll: 63% of Japanese favor immigration of unskilled foreign laborers


Hi Blog. I had a column in the Japan Times today talking about the mysterious perception gap between friendly, welcoming Japanese people, and a government which is expressly xenophobic and increasingly antipathetic towards foreigners. As further fodder for that claim, look at this interesting poll, where the majority of people aren’t falling for the media- and GOJ-manufactured fear of the outside world or the alien within. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

63% of Japanese favor allowing immigration of unskilled foreign laborers
(Mainichi Japan) December 17, 2007

More than 60 percent of people in Japan support accepting entry-level workers from overseas, in spite of the government’s policy of generally refusing such workers, a survey by the Mainichi has found.

In a nationwide telephone poll conducted by the Mainichi, 63 percent of respondents agreed with accepting foreign entry-level workers. Another 31 percent were against the idea, citing reasons such as that it would have a negative effect on Japanese employment or public peace.

A special employment plan approved by the Cabinet in June 1988 agreed to actively accept specialist and skilled foreign workers, but to take a “cautious” approach with regard to entry-level workers, and as a result, foreign unskilled laborers are generally refused entry to Japan.

When questioned about the government’s policy, 58 percent of respondents in the survey agreed with accepting unskilled foreign workers in fields where there was a lack of workers. Five percent said entry-level foreign workers should be accepted unconditionally.

When the 31 percent of respondents who said that such workers should not be accepted were asked to give a reason for their stance, 51 percent replied that it would have a negative effect on the employment and working environments of Japanese nationals. Another 35 percent said that public security would worsen, while 10 percent said trouble would occur as a result of differences between customs. Three percent cited an increased burden in areas such as social security costs and education costs.

When asked who would cover social security and education costs, the answers “the businesses employing the workers” and “industries that need workers” each received 38 percent. The answers “foreign workers themselves,” and “the whole public” each marked only 11 percent.

Hidenori Sakanaka, head of the Japan Immigration Policy Institute, who formerly served as a director of the Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau, said Japan’s entry into an age with a dwindling population was behind the rising acceptance of allowing entry-level workers into Japan.

“Another reason is probably that the relationship with foreigners in Japan has taken a turn for the better,” he said. Sakanaka added that the work done by entry-level workers, such as nursing and work in the agriculture, forestry and fisheries industry, required specialist knowledge and skills, as well as the ability to adapt to Japanese society, and was certainly not simple. He added that a system to accept foreigners under a policy of cultivating human resources was urgently needed.
(Mainichi Japan) December 17, 2007

2 comments on “Mainichi Poll: 63% of Japanese favor immigration of unskilled foreign laborers

  • Debito, congratulations on your truely excellent column in today’s Japan Times! The column is very well written and brings in all the issues. Have you considered translating it and trying to get it printed in any of the japanese language newspapers?



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