Is Immigration the Solution to Japan’s Aging Society?(移民は日本の高齢化社会の解決策となるか?)



■Is Immigration the Solution to Japan’s Ageing Society?(移民は日本の高齢化社会の解決策となるか?)

Japan’s population looks like it is about to go into free fall.(日本の人口はまさに激減しようとしているようだ。)
The country’s fertility rate — defined as the average number of children born to a woman aged between 15 and 49 — stood at an estimated 1.2 in 2008.(2008年の日本の出生率は推定1.2倍とみられる。これは、15歳から49歳までの女性に生まれた子どもの平均数で計られたものである。)
That is substantially less than the 2.1 needed to sustain a population in a developed country and a far cry from the 4.5 of 1947 that heralded the start of Japan’s brief but spectacular baby boom.(先進国が人口を維持するために必要な2.1倍より実質的に少ない。そして日本の短かくも目を見張るベビーブームの始まりを告げた1947年の4.5倍には程遠い。)

If such a trend were to continue, Japan’s Business Federation (Keidanren), the nation’s largest business lobby, has warned that over the next 50 years Japan’s total population could shrink by 30 percent, falling from the current 128 million to 90 million.(日本で一番大きい経済団体である経団連は、もしこのような傾向が続くなら、50年後には日本の総人口は30%減少し、現在の1億2千800万人からおよそ9千万人に減ることもあり得ると警告する。)
Over the same period, the working-age population will plummet by 46 percent to approximately 46 million.(同期間に労働人口は46%急落し、およそ4千600万人になるという。)
That would leave just 1.3 workers to support each senior citizen.(それは1人の老人をたった1.3人の労働者が支えることになる。)

In its October 2008 paper, “An Economy and Society That Responds to the Challenges of a Declining Population,” the Keidanren cautions that such a rapid drop-off would not only slow the economic growth rate and make it difficult to sustain government finances and the public pension scheme, but would also create problems for maintaining a viable social system.(経団連は、2008年10月の報告書、「人口減少に対応した経済社会のあり方」の中で、そのような急速な落ち込みは経済成長率を減速させ、政府の財政や公的年金制度を維持するのを難しくさせるばかりでなく、存続可能な社会システムを維持するのにも支障を来すだろうと警告している。)
With the ratio of those aged 65 and over already at 22 percent, and the population continuing to age, the healthcare and senior care industries will require a massive injection of labor.(65歳以上の比率がすでに22%を占め、さらに高齢化し続ける中で、健康ケアと高齢者ケア産業は労働力の大量投入が必要になる。)

A myriad of solutions to the labor shortage have at one time or another been put forward; from former Health Minister YANAGISAWA Hakuo’s suggestion that the country needed its “baby-making machines” (women) to have more children to discussions on making up the labor shortfall through automation and expanded employment opportunities for women and the elderly.(これまで労働者不足に対する無数の解決策が提示されてきた。それらは、柳沢伯夫元厚生労働大臣が提案した、もっと子どもを増やすために国は「産む機械」(女性)が必要というものから、自動化および女性や老人の雇用機会拡大で労働力不足を補うという議論まであった。)

None of these, however, has the potential to change the Japanese landscape quite as much as the option of large-scale immigration, which has been proposed by not only the Keidanren, but also a group of politicians and the former head of Tokyo’s Immigration Bureau.(しかし、何れも、日本の状況を一変させるかもしれない大規模な移民受け入れ案ほどのものではなかった。その受け入れ案は、経団連ばかりでなく政治家のグループや前東京入国管理局長からも提案された。

In June 2008, 80 Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) lawmakers, led by the former secretary-general of the LDP, NAKAGAWA Hidenao, submitted a document, titled “Japanese-Model Immigration Policy,” to the then prime minister, FUKUDA Yasuo.(2008年6月、中川秀直元自民党幹事長率いる80人の自民党議員(自民党人材交流推進議員連盟)が、『日本型移民政策』提案書を当時の福田首相に提出した。)
In it, they urged Japan to open its doors as an international state to the world and shift toward establishing an “immigrant nation” by accepting immigrants and revitalizing Japan.”(その中で、彼らは日本が国際的な国としてその門戸を世界に開放し、移民を受け入れ日本を再生することにより「移民受け入れ国」の設立に移行するよう促した。)

Their plan recommends raising the percentage of immigrants in Japan to about 10 percent of the population (10 million) by 2050 and increasing the number of foreign students from the present 130,000 to 1 million by 2025.(彼ら(自民党人材交流推進議員連盟)の計画は、2050年までに日本の移民率を人口の10%(1千万)に上げ、外国人留学生の数を2025年までに13万人から100万人まで増やすよう奨励している。)
The group is also calling for the establishment of an immigration agency within three years to unify the management of foreign-resident affairs and wants the enactment of a law that would specify the country’s basic immigration principles and policy.(そのグループ(自民党人材交流推進議員連盟)は、さらに、在日外国人問題の管理を統一するため、移民庁を3年以内に設立することを要求し、国の基本的な移民方針や政策を明確にする立法を望んでいる。)

Citizenship requirements, too, would be affected under the plan, with a recommendation that permanent residents and any foreign resident who has lived in the country for at least 10 years should be granted the right to Japanese citizenship(永住者と少なくとも10年間日本に在住している外国人は、日本の市民権を認められるべきだという意見により、市民権を与える条件もその計画の影響を受けるだろう。)

For the author of the plan, SAKANAKA Hidenori, the former chief of Tokyo’s Immigration Bureau and the current head of the Japan Immigration Policy Institute, the pros of mass immigration are simple: an influx of foreigners would make up for the labor force shortfall and ensure Japan remained a leading global economy and maintained its current standard of living.(計画の立案者である前東京入国管理局長で、現外国人政策研究所所長の坂中英徳氏にとっては、大量移民を受け入れることの利点は単純だ。外国人の流入は労働力不足を補い、日本を世界経済大国の一員として残ることを保証し、また、現在の日本の生活水準が保たれる。)

Similarly, the Keidanren has urged the government to increase immigration to strengthen industries as far ranging as construction, manufacturing, welfare, transport, fisheries and agriculture.(同様に経団連は、建設、製造、福祉、運輸、漁業、農業にいたるまでの産業を強化するため、移民を増やすよう政府に要請した。)
While the federation has long accepted the need for highly skilled foreign workers in such fields as IT, it is now urging the government to open up the economy to less-skilled workers and create a social infrastructure to encourage immigrants to commit to Japan for the long term.(連盟はITなどの分野で高度な技術を持つ外国人の必要性をかなり前から認めていたが、今度は高い技術を持たない労働者へ経済を解放し、移民者が長期間安心して日本へ来られるように、社会インフラの整備を要請している。)

■Is Japan Ready?(日本の準備は?)

The most recent data from the Ministry of Justice’s Immigration Bureau has the number of registered non-Japanese residents at 2.2 million, a figure that represents 1.7 percent of the population and includes approximately 400,000 second-and third-generation Koreans who retain their Korean nationality.(法務省移民局の最新データによると、登録済みの外国人在住者の数は220万人で、その数は日本の人口の1.7%を占め、約40万人の韓国籍を持つ在日韓国人2世、3世を含む。)

By comparison with other developed nations the ratio is low, despite the past decade having seen the non-Japanese population rise steadily from a figure of 1.5 million in 1998.(過去10年間で見ると、外国人の人口は1998年の150万人から着実に増えているにもかかわらず、ほかの先進国と比べてみるとその割合は低い。)
In stark contrast to this modest growth, the Nakagawa-Sakanaka plan would require an influx in the region of 400,000 immigrants a year for the next half century.(つつましい伸びとは明らかに対照的に、中川-坂中案では、これからの半世紀、ほぼ年間40万人の移民の受け入れを必要とする。)
In short, the current immigration trickle would need to become a flood.(つまり、移民が少しずつ来るのではなく、大量に来る必要があるのだ。)

To make such an intake feasible, Sakanaka believes the government would need to emphasize greater interaction between Japanese and other nationalities and provide better support for foreigners, guaranteeing them the same rights as the native population.(坂中氏は、そのような大量の受け入れを実現可能にするには政府が日本と他国との活発な交流に力をいれ、外国人に日本人と同じ権利を保障して、より良い支援をする必要があると確信する。)
In addition, he says there should be a focus on the smooth integration of newcomers into society through employment assistance and language learning.(さらに、雇用援助や語学学習を通して初めてやって来る外国人が社会にスムーズに溶け込めることに焦点を合わせるべきだと彼は主張する。)
Sakanaka sees the proposed national immigration agency as playing a crucial role here, overseeing immigration policy, monitoring and preventing discrimination and promoting social integration.(坂中氏は、提案した移民庁が、移民政策を見直し、差別の監視と予防、社会交流の促進に重大な役割を果たすとみている。)

The challenges before Sakanaka’s proposal would be great, yet without a concerted plan Japan has been successful in absorbing the relatively small numbers of immigrants arriving on its shores to date.(坂中氏の提案以前の挑戦は、素晴らしかったといえよう。しかも合意した案がないまま、日本は今日まで比較的少人数の移民の受け入れに成功してきた。)
The problem, according to Sakanaka, is that while the country has a history of assimilating culture from abroad and an ingrained tendency to accept different values and practices, those qualities will not be enough without a well thought-out immigration policy.(坂中氏によると、問題は、日本が外国からの文化と同化してきた歴史があり、異なる価値観や習慣を受け入れる傾向が強いが、熟考された移民政策なしでは、これらの特性を十分に生かせないことだ。)

■The Situation for Foreign Workers Now(外国人労働者の現状)

According to statistics for foreign employment compiled by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, the number of foreign workers at the end of October 2008 was 486,398.(厚生労働省の外国人雇用状況統計によると、2008年10月末時点で外国人労働者数は48万6398人であった。)
By nationality, the Chinese come first with 43 percent, followed by Brazilians with 20.4 percent and Filipinos with 8.3 percent.(国籍別で見ると、1位は中国人の43%、次いでブラジル人の20.4%、フィリピン人の8.3%だ。)
34 percent of foreign laborers are dispatched or contract workers.(外国人労働者の34%が派遣もしくは請負労働者である。)

By industry, the manufacturing industry occupies 40 percent, the clothing industry 20 percent and hotel & restaurant industry 10 percent.(業種別では製造業が40%、衣料品業界が20%、外食・ホテル産業が10%だ。)
By region, Tokyo Prefecture has the most foreign workers with 118,488, followed by Aichi Prefecture, home of Toyota Automobiles with 60,326.(都道府県別では、東京都が最多で11万8488人、次いでトヨタ自動車の本拠地がある愛知県の6万326人となる。)
In third place is Shizuoka Prefecture and fourth is Kanagawa Prefecture.(3位に静岡県、4位に神奈川県と続く。)

However, due to the global depression, the number of redundancies is rapidly rising in the manufacturing industry.(しかし、世界同時不況により、製造業では、外国人労働者の解雇が急激に増えている。)
While job offers are drastically decreasing, new job seekers at Hello Work (national job agency) in the nine areas where the ratio of foreign workers is high are rapidly increasing.(企業の求人は大幅に減っている一方で、外国人の比率が高い9地域のハローワーク(公的職業紹介所)での新規外国人求職者数は急増している。)

In the period of October — December, 2008, the number was 5,330, which is six times higher than the same period of the previous year.(2008年10~12月の新規外国人求職者数は、前年同期比で6倍を超える5530人となった。)

2013 Opinion:
    Personally I think JP is not that able to ‘adopt’ foreign concepts. I mean even within the immigrants, there is a racial hierarchy, because let’s face it JP is racists; the top being the Nikkei (japanese who have lived and grown up somewhere other than JP, most notably Brazil), then comes people like chinese/korean, ‘european’ or westerners (basically people that don’t look asian but most JP people view westerners as those with blond hair, blue eyes, long pointy noses, etc), and then asians from southeast asia, etc.

So even within this hierarchy, they are all still considered 外人 (foreigners). The concept of having foreigners having babies with japanese in Japan just seems too much of a different way of thinking for JP politicians, realistically speaking. That is what I think so far. The question of immigration solving JP’s aging population seems like it would take a really long time for that to actually be accepted socially and as part of their culture. . .

2015 Opinion:
My opinion hasn’t really changed that much actually regarding this issue. I do believe any group of immigration helps any country especially when their own population isn’t willing to keep having more babies. But in Japan’s case, it would be very difficult to even accept “other foreigners” as their own; meaning their own culture and life, simply because they will always be looked and treated as those “other” people; the foreigners. Doesn’t matter if they have lived here all their lives and have never known anything else. To the majority group, this is simply just inconceivable.

At the same time, Japan doesn’t implement the right conditions that are favorable to their changing population. People are changing the way they live and how they think. Maybe not by a lot but women surely are. The younger they are the more of a 180 degree turn they have made in how they think in regards to poppin’ out kids versus staying at work. At the forefront of this decreasing population is (I believe) women. Because we make the first choice whether we want to have kids or not. And if the society I live in makes it hard for me to keep the job I love AND have kids, then why have kids?

While families in the country-side have no problem having more than one child, the trend is not as such.

So, first there is the issue of fixing womens rights in the work place. And this also has to come from the women as well. If a group of women don’t stand up together and say NO to the system, well, the system won’t change.

Two: attitudes towards “foreigners” and pressuring them to be as Japanese as possible has to change. Japanese believe you should “get accustomed” to their way of life, even though they will never recognize you as someone like them. But you should still try right?

Any portion of you being foreign automatically puts you into the “other” category. That category that just doesn’t fit perfectly into “their” category. See where I’m getting at?

People aren’t respected for their differences. And there’s a difference between like and respecting. You don’t have to like the fact that I just plain don’t like Japanese white rice. And I’m not asking you to. But you do have to respect that I have different values and morals, and different taste buds. So I’m not asking you to like it, I’m telling you to respect it. Judge me for the content of my character and not by my physical features.

But this is something that will take a long time for Japan simply because they are not willing to change for the better.





育児(いくじ):upbringing, childcare/rearing
積極的(せっきょくてき):assertive, positive, active, proactive
語呂会わせ(ごろあわせ):a play on words, rhyming game
手助け(てだすけ):a help, (who) play (a) part in


Men who do are active in childrearing are called ‘Ikumen’. It is a play on the world ‘Ikemen’ which has the meaning of a cool, handsome guy. Recently, grandfathers who are a help in childrearing are also increasing. They are called ‘Ikujii’. ‘Jii’ comes from the ‘jii’ of ‘ojiisan’.


Why do mothers who are at the park not become intimate friends with me?

親しい(したしい): intimate, close (friends)
言い方(いいぶん): one’s way/point, complaint, excuse
幼い(おさな): (my) young
息子(むすこ): son
連れて行く(つれていく): to bring (a person)



Recently I brought my young son to a nearby park for the first time but…

I took my young son to a nearby park for the first time recently and was shocked that all the other mothers were so unwelcoming. They just ignored me. In Australia, it would be normal to exchange friendly small talk with other parents and let their kids play together. Is it because I’m foreign?

Sadly, I lost the files to the complete article so I only have this tiny bit. T^T But I still wanted to put it up because I remembered that this article was very interesting.!