Monday, June 16, 2008

"Let 10% of Japan be foreigners"

And in the continuing realm of "Japan facing up to reality" comes this pronouncement from the LDP.

I haven't done any original reporting on this, but if this Japan Times article is at least some indication, there is significant change afoot in the way Japan plans to adjust its policies towards foreigners in the coming decades -- and in a positive sense.

The fact that Japan's population size is in rapid decline has been known for some time. Historically, however, the Japanese archipelago and government relied on the construct (artificial) that the nation was homogeneous. Government policies and social norms were constructed consciously (and subconsciously) to maintain these distinctions.

To give an example, Japan was (and still is) one of the few developed countries in the world in which one can live long term without needing to set down roots, learn the language or take out citizenship or even permanent residence -- and the citizenry and government, as a whole, seem to prefer it that way.

But, times they do change -- and Japan appears to have accepted it really needs to open up to the world. Of course, we have been here before. The '80s saw a wonderful [sarcasm] age of "Internationalisation" 国際化 that resulted in a rush of university educated English teachers on good salaries (and a few others), but not much more. Japan's long-term "foreigners" (particularly, second and third generation "immigrants" of Korean origin) did not find too much increased acceptance.

More on this soon I hope. But, the indications (along with the Diet's acknowledgment of the Ainu as an indigenous people [see link below] does suggest change of some kind is under way.

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