PM Candidate: Limit Foreign Population to 3 Percent
Tuesday, June 6, 2006 Posted: 11:52 AM JST
On May 31, Mainichi Daily News reported that a Justice Ministry panel aims to propose that the proportion of foreign residents should be kept at 3 percent. Hokkaido based human rights activist Arudou Debito reacts.
Mainichi Daily News, May 31 2006:
A Justice Ministry panel studying an overhaul of Japan's immigration administration is set to propose that the proportion of foreign residents to the nation's population should be kept at 3 pct or below, Senior Vice Justice Minister Taro Kono said Tuesday.
The proposal will be included in a draft package of immigration policy reform measures to be drawn up shortly, Kono, who heads the panel, told a press conference.
According to the ministry, foreign residents accounted for 1.2 pct of Japan's population at the end of 2005.
By contrast, the proportion stood at 8.9 pct in Germany in 2001, at 11.1 pct in the United States in the same year and at 5.6 pct in France in 1999.
The panel is also considering requiring foreign nationals of Japanese ancestry to be fluent in Japanese and have regular jobs as conditions for their residency in Japan, Kono said.
Such people are currently allowed to live in Japan if they have relatives in the country.
The panel now believes it necessary to toughen the criteria because the number of problems caused by such residents has been increasing.
Hokkaido based human rights activist Arudou Debito found the news alarming enough to pick it up in his newsletter:
I see. So I guess it begs the question how this is going to be enforced. Compulsory birth control for the increasing number of foreign worker couples who decide to have children? Just kidding. I'm sure Mr Kouno just wants to man the barricades, for whatever reason (though I would like to know what these "increasing problems by such residents" are).
Pity he (and his ministry, which should know better) gets the figure for the percentage of the foreign population wrong. It hasn't been 1.2 percent since around 1998! Worse yet is that the Mainichi Shinbun (which should also know better, as it reported the accurate figures not four days before), just parrots the incorrect information all over again. Shame on them. I've already sent a scolding through my Japanese mailing lists.
You can make your feelings known to Dietmember Kouno in four languages (see how "progressive" he is?) through his flash website at http://www.taro.org. One would hope, though, that somebody aspiring for international leadership would at least make policy pronouncements grounded on accurate information.
Still, I wonder how Toyota, Suzuki, Yamaha, Nissan, et al would feel about this proposed labor force cap. Close to two decades of "Foreign Trainee" workers, working for less than less than half wages, no social benefits, and no job security, are what's keeping Japan's labor costs down, stopping many of Japan's major industries from relocating overseas. How about Toyota? In its national-pride push to finally overtake GM as the word's leading carmaker, it'll need even more cheap labor for the foreseeable future...
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