Japan’s Foreign Workers

The population pyramid of Japan is distributed unbalanced,  it dense on middle-aged population. The population is declining since the fertility rate is low in Japan, only 4% of the total population is under 4. As it distributed mainly above middle age, they are not able to give birth to children.

At October 31, 2018, Japan’s prime minister Shinzo Abe asked to nation to lower its drawbridge, announced plans to attract 500,000 foreign workers to Japan by 2025 to fill the labour shortage.

As Japan’s population ages and shrinks, foreign workers are being required to fill the labor shortage in all industries such as farming and construction. Japan also need a great number of workers as to prepare for the 2022 Olympics in Tokyo, including building facilities and staff working in different branches.

“In Japan, the word ‘immigrant’ is not used in policy making,” former economy minister Heizo Takenaka said in an interview. “The prime minister often says it’s not immigration, it’s guest workers.”

Japan has made it clear that the foreign workers are only “guest workers” instead of immigrants as Shinzo Abe denied the constituted “immigration policy”. He also mentioned that the fear among the Japanese people that foreigners would cause social unrest and erode national identity.

Liberal commentators say foreisgn workers will trigger social problems and put downward pressure on the wages of Japanese workers. Yuichiro Tamaki, leader of the opposition Democratic Party for the People, on Friday called the proposed immigration revisions “half-cooked and insufficient”.

However, the public opinion is positive overall. Over half of respondents in a survey last month in the nation’s most popular newspaper, the Yomiuri, said they supported the government’s policy of allowing in more foreign blue-collar workers

Professor Toru Shinoda, a labor relations expert at Waseda University in Tokyo. Shinoda argues that with the rise of China and Southeast Asia, Japan must wake up to the harsh reality that it needs foreign labor more than foreign labor needs Japan. It’s a matter of survival. He stresses Japan must either learn to accept permanent immigration or risk being abandoned, isolated, and left behind.


Leave a Reply