The Japanese economy is a microcosm of immigration and labor shortages that are hindering our own economic growth in the United States. With U.S. unemployment at a point that is believed to be normalized, the ability to obtain skilled labor is difficult to find, especially for small businesses. This is a moderation of epic proportions for the Japanese, who possess the world’s fastest aging population, and equally as important, one of the most ethnically homogeneous societies.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is in a very precarious position, whereby he is attempting to appease business in meeting their labor demands, all while maintaining a stringent anti-immigration policy. Asian society is not tolerant of diversity as the uber liberal American left is. Abe is one of many foreigners educated in America (University of Southern California) that repatriated to their homeland after school. You would hear no cries for diversity or immigration rights from the Japanese if there wasn’t a potential economic crisis.
The Japanese Cabinet determined on Friday, it will allow eligible foreign workers to apply for newly created visas spanning a variety of sectors from agriculture and construction, to daycare and nursing. Visas being granted are categorically defined as follows.
The bill has indicated a significant shift in Japan’s previous tight restrictions for foreign workers entering and working in Japan and the change in policy on foreign labor has been met with some reservations by opposition parties who have voiced concern about the shift in Japan’s famously cautious immigration stance. The influx of foreigners in the past has been largely students and “trainees,” who were not eligible for long-term visas. That is changing. There will be essentially two tiers of entry into Japan. Under the proposed legislation, the first status will allow five-year working visas to foreigners with applicable vocational skills in certain fields, but they will not be allowed to bring their families. The second tier will be for those who have more advanced skills, the length of their stay will be open-ended, and they will be allowed to bring their families with them. The migration to Japan as of 2017 looks as follows.
Opinion polls show that slightly over half the population would be in favor of Abe’s bill, while roughly one-third oppose any immigration. It is the younger generation that is amenable to the shifting societal change, while the aging population prefers the traditional status quo. Permanent residence can only exist for those who pass a tough Japanese language exam. How intolerant. One language is quintessential to maintaining culture. Something we have lost in America.
One wonders why an election ballot needs to be in 12 languages, including Mandarin Chinese. Some in Japan are open to the idea of an American style immigration policy. Caravans will not walk there from Central America however, but will arrive from other Asian nations, likely educated and longing to work. My guess is there are not a lot of doctors, lawyers and wholesale jewelers in bare feet walking to Texas. This is a critical time in the history of Japanese culture. The dichotomy that exists has the ability to mitigate the labor situation on one hand, or it can have deleterious results similar to how the America of today has become deeply divided on issues of immigration, race et al. A slippery slope to navigate for sure.