Japan should never become a multiethnic society

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Japan should never become a multiethnic society

Postby gmalivuk » Sat Apr 25, 2009 6:00 am UTC

This article wrote:The aging country faces an impending labor shortage. The population has been falling since 2005, and its working-age population could fall by a third by 2050. Though manufacturers have been laying off workers, sectors like farming and care for the elderly still face shortages.

But Mr. Kawasaki said the economic slump was a good opportunity to overhaul Japan’s immigration policy as a whole.

“We should stop letting unskilled laborers into Japan. We should make sure that even the three-K jobs are paid well, and that they are filled by Japanese,” he said. “I do not think that Japan should ever become a multiethnic society.”

He said the United States had been “a failure on the immigration front,” and cited extreme income inequalities between rich Americans and poor immigrants.

At the packed town hall meeting in Hamamatsu, immigrants voiced disbelief that they would be barred from returning. Angry members of the audience converged on officials. Others walked out of the meeting room.

“Are you saying even our children will not be able to come back?” one man shouted.

“That is correct, they will not be able to come back,” a local labor official, Masahiro Watai, answered calmly.

Yes, Japan, go back to your xenophobic and radically isolationist ways in an era of increasing globalization everywhere else on earth. Nothing bad could possibly happen...
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Re: Japan should never become a multiethnic society

Postby Stormlock » Sat Apr 25, 2009 6:23 am UTC

Well, it seems to have served them pretty well so far. Immigration causes numerous problems, if it's not necessary (and immigration really makes no sense in the long run), avoiding it seems like a good idea.
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Re: Japan should never become a multiethnic society

Postby Dibley » Sat Apr 25, 2009 6:34 am UTC

So when their work force is too small, they try to make it smaller? I'm not sure I understand their reasoning. I'm more troubled by the blatant racism, though.

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Re: Japan should never become a multiethnic society

Postby Hawknc » Sat Apr 25, 2009 6:38 am UTC

Stormlock wrote:(and immigration really makes no sense in the long run)

Bad dog. Support your assertion or I'll have to get the rolled-up newspaper again.

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Re: Japan should never become a multiethnic society

Postby Stormlock » Sat Apr 25, 2009 6:41 am UTC

Their work force is too small because it is aging. Increasing the workforce will simply make the problem bigger and put it off for a generation.

And there's nothing inherently racist about being opposed to immigration. I can think of a number of countries I'd rather live in whose cultures I prefer; that doesn't mean when people immigrate from those countries to here they don't create problems related to that immigration. Differences in culture cause problems inherently, and adding to this problems of recognizing foreign training, language barriers and the hit to the wallet, and an immigrant is just plain of less help to whatever country he is immigrating to than the one he came from, on average all things being equal.
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Re: Japan should never become a multiethnic society

Postby Dibley » Sat Apr 25, 2009 6:50 am UTC

Wouldn't an influx of young immigrants help with the aging workplace? I mean, you can work on birthrates too, but I'm not sure there's much to be done there.

And I wasn't calling the opposition to immigration racist, although it may be. "Japan should never become a multiethnic society" and "that they are filled by Japanese" are both fairly unambiguously racist statements.

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Re: Japan should never become a multiethnic society

Postby Marbas » Sat Apr 25, 2009 6:57 am UTC

Their work force is too small because it is aging. Increasing the workforce will simply make the problem bigger and put it off for a generation.


I would bet that immigrants are more likely to have children than the native population and that a continued stream of immigration allows them to continually put off the problem.
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Re: Japan should never become a multiethnic society

Postby Silas » Sat Apr 25, 2009 7:00 am UTC

Meh. If having an ethnically and culturally untainted nation is more important to Japan's policymakers (ie, citizens) than preventing a demographic collapse, then let them burn their world. They seem at least to have an idea of what they're getting themselves into.
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Re: Japan should never become a multiethnic society

Postby Stormlock » Sat Apr 25, 2009 7:06 am UTC

I can sort of see what you mean, but given that the only way either of the two stated things could come about is by immigration, not so much. Well, the first could come about through some sort of culture split, but that'd be pretty bad too. If Japan were already multi-ethnic and he stated that that was the cause of problems, or that Japan needed to be more ethnically pure or some such, then you could infer that. All I can read into it however is that immigration = problems and Japan should cut back on immigration.

An influx of young workers will help with the aging workplace right now... but 40 years down the line when they are aging, you'll have to increase the population even more. Repeat until you want to swallow the pill of population dropping or at least remaining stable, which sucks, but is necessary in the long term. A better solution would be increasing productivity per worker, such as with automation or the like. Of course, that takes time, research, etc.

Edit because so many people I've met over the years ignore or don't notice this problem: You cannot infinitely increase the population within a closed system without infinitely reducing the quality of life as well.
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Re: Japan should never become a multiethnic society

Postby pooteeweet » Sat Apr 25, 2009 7:23 am UTC

Yeah... Would somebody please explain why a labor shortage might be fixed by cracking down on immigration? Because, to a common layperson like myself with no real understanding of the complexities of such issues, it seems like the answer would be to invite young foreigners to fill in that labor gap.

:( Because when I read the first few sentences of the OP I thought "ooh! I should move to Japan!" Because my boy and I dream of leaving the states in search of brighter futures. Just like the immigrants of old came here. The streets of Tokyo are paved with gold, right?

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Re: Japan should never become a multiethnic society

Postby Cryopyre » Sat Apr 25, 2009 7:30 am UTC

I can see some of your points Stormlock, but given Japan's past it is not at all a jump in logic to assume that these are racist/xenophobic statements and not just statements on immigration. It would certainly be sad to see Japan fall back into a nationalistic rage.
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Re: Japan should never become a multiethnic society

Postby Stormlock » Sat Apr 25, 2009 7:49 am UTC

I don't know what the streets are paved with, but the housing is about 1000$ a month for a tiny one person apartment. Good luck finding a job that pays that much + other expenses if you don't know the language or even culture. There's a good chance you'll piss off your prospective boss the first time you meet him without even realizing why. Immigrating is really only a good idea if you're coming from somewhere really crappy and ending up somewhere really great, preferably with a similar culture and the same language. Arriving penniless and unskilled in an unfamiliar place with no family to support you sounds pretty hellish to me.

I mean, imagine Tokyo with slums. A labour shortage is a good thing compared to the alternative. More competition for employees, higher average wages, better working conditions.

As far as nationalism, I'd have to say China, North Korea, and the US are the world leaders in that right now. Japan hasn't been at war in the last 50 years as far as I'm aware. The guy could very well be racist/xenophobic. Japan has a bad reputation for that sort of thing. But that doesn't make his reasoning faulty. Even a broken clock is right twice a day.
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Re: Japan should never become a multiethnic society

Postby Gellert1984 » Sat Apr 25, 2009 8:11 am UTC

He's only talking about unskilled labour, which I think most countries tend to hold off on in terms of immigration, now if you had a doctorate in agriculture (and some skill with mandarin) you'd probably get the red carpet.
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Re: Japan should never become a multiethnic society

Postby Hawknc » Sat Apr 25, 2009 8:22 am UTC

Stormlock wrote:I don't know what the streets are paved with, but the housing is about 1000$ a month for a tiny one person apartment. Good luck finding a job that pays that much + other expenses if you don't know the language or even culture.

Japan is bigger than Tokyo, you know. The housing situation isn't homogeneous over the entire nation.

As others have said, Japan has well-documented issues with xenophobia, and you can't look at a move like this without that cultural context. Even ignoring it, though, your statement wasn't "immigration is not the best move for Japan right now", it was "immigration really makes no sense in the long run". And depending on the nation, it makes fantastic sense, because no nation is a closed system and culture is transferable. It makes more sense for some nations than others, perhaps, but when you have a declining population and a birth rate that isn't going to turn that around, your options are either bring more people in, or simply have less people. Now I'm fine with that second one, global overpopulation being what it is, but the blanket statement that immigration is bad is blatantly false. Also:

Stormlock wrote:A better solution would be increasing productivity per worker, such as with automation or the like. Of course, that takes time, research, etc.

You know we're talking about Japan, right? No country does productivity better than them.

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Re: Japan should never become a multiethnic society

Postby Gelsamel » Sat Apr 25, 2009 8:28 am UTC

Hawknc wrote:
Stormlock wrote:A better solution would be increasing productivity per worker, such as with automation or the like. Of course, that takes time, research, etc.

You know we're talking about Japan, right? No country does productivity better than them.


Actually I've read a bunch of stuff talking about robotizing many jobs to deal with their job crisis.

As far as I know (and my sources on this are not necessarily reliable, so don't hit me if I am wrong), the only way to increase their birthrate is to get heaps more people in Japan... OR fix the general/passive misogyny.
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Re: Japan should never become a multiethnic society

Postby Dibley » Sat Apr 25, 2009 8:36 am UTC

Wait, I know they have some issues with misogyny, and a very low birthrate, but I was unaware they were related. Explain please?

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Re: Japan should never become a multiethnic society

Postby Gelsamel » Sat Apr 25, 2009 8:39 am UTC

Dibley wrote:Wait, I know they have some issues with misogyny, and a very low birthrate, but I was unaware they were related. Explain please?


Well the piece (Disclaimer 1: possibly faulty piece) I read a while back (Disclaimer 2: my memory isn't that great) said that a large reason why the birth rate is low is because typically men in Japan want women to be stay at home wifes. However... most women don't want that holding them back and so they don't bother getting married or having relationships because they want to have a career and, you know, a life.
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Re: Japan should never become a multiethnic society

Postby Stormlock » Sat Apr 25, 2009 8:42 am UTC

Japan isn't a closed system, but it's not open in useful ways. If it were, the correct solution to the labour shortage and aging population would be to deport old old people. No more aging population problem. Unless this is going to become an option in another 40 years, importing young labourers isn't going to help much.

Immigration is a great (and evil) idea if you own a large business and would like to hire some cheap workers for less than you'd pay a native resident. See the US - Mexican border. It does, however, have the downside of basically importing a lot of poor people to the country, whom will often send money out of the country to their family. Given that poor people are more prone to being involved in crime, have poorer education and health, and pay little or no taxes, is this really a good option? Sure, if a wealthy person wants to immigrate there they'd be foolish to turn him down, but why would a wealthy person want to? It'd likely be harder to do business after all.

It's not as though they're going to dwindle away to nothing. Birthrates naturally rise and fall with economies. Once enough old people kick the bucket there'll be more money in the system per person and more people can afford to have bigger families.
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Re: Japan should never become a multiethnic society

Postby Hawknc » Sat Apr 25, 2009 8:47 am UTC

*blink*

Right, I'm out. Tag anyone who wants to take that.

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Re: Japan should never become a multiethnic society

Postby Marbas » Sat Apr 25, 2009 8:47 am UTC

If it were, the correct solution to the labour shortage and aging population would be to deport old old people.


You're trolling, right?
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Re: Japan should never become a multiethnic society

Postby Xeio » Sat Apr 25, 2009 8:50 am UTC

Dibley wrote:And I wasn't calling the opposition to immigration racist, although it may be. "Japan should never become a multiethnic society" and "that they are filled by Japanese" are both fairly unambiguously racist statements.
One thing about this. Is it really racist to put citizens of your country before potential immigrants? Granted, I wouldn't necessarily say that he might not have meant them in a racist way, but those statements don't have to be "unambiguously racist", at least not with respect to immigration.

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Re: Japan should never become a multiethnic society

Postby cycoden » Sat Apr 25, 2009 8:55 am UTC

I'll bite :P
Stormlock wrote:Japan isn't a closed system, but it's not open in useful ways. If it were, the correct solution to the labour shortage and aging population would be to deport old old people. No more aging population problem. Unless this is going to become an option in another 40 years, importing young labourers isn't going to help much.
Which countries currently deport their old people? To where? The solution to the problem you describe is to encourage immigration to smooth the demographic curve. The other alternative is raising birth rates, but if you are already suffering problems due to an aging population, then you've kind of already missed the boat. Of course, theres always the Soylent Green solution...

Gelsamel wrote:
Dibley wrote:Wait, I know they have some issues with misogyny, and a very low birthrate, but I was unaware they were related. Explain please?


Well the piece (Disclaimer 1: possibly faulty piece) I read a while back (Disclaimer 2: my memory isn't that great) said that a large reason why the birth rate is low is because typically men in Japan want women to be stay at home wifes. However... most women don't want that holding them back and so they don't bother getting married or having relationships because they want to have a career and, you know, a life.
I read an article in the (english version of) The Japan Times that stated exactly that.
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Re: Japan should never become a multiethnic society

Postby Gelsamel » Sat Apr 25, 2009 8:58 am UTC

cycoden wrote:
Gelsamel wrote:
Dibley wrote:Wait, I know they have some issues with misogyny, and a very low birthrate, but I was unaware they were related. Explain please?


Well the piece (Disclaimer 1: possibly faulty piece) I read a while back (Disclaimer 2: my memory isn't that great) said that a large reason why the birth rate is low is because typically men in Japan want women to be stay at home wifes. However... most women don't want that holding them back and so they don't bother getting married or having relationships because they want to have a career and, you know, a life.
I read an article in the (english version of) The Japan Times that stated exactly that.


Yeah, so assuming there is some truth to that... They need to let me into Japan!

Actually I'm seriously considering doing that JET program, I hope they don't randomly scrap it.
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Re: Japan should never become a multiethnic society

Postby cycoden » Sat Apr 25, 2009 9:13 am UTC

Gelsamel wrote:
cycoden wrote:
Gelsamel wrote:
Dibley wrote:Wait, I know they have some issues with misogyny, and a very low birthrate, but I was unaware they were related. Explain please?


Well the piece (Disclaimer 1: possibly faulty piece) I read a while back (Disclaimer 2: my memory isn't that great) said that a large reason why the birth rate is low is because typically men in Japan want women to be stay at home wifes. However... most women don't want that holding them back and so they don't bother getting married or having relationships because they want to have a career and, you know, a life.
I read an article in the (english version of) The Japan Times that stated exactly that.


Yeah, so assuming there is some truth to that... They need to let me into Japan!

Actually I'm seriously considering doing that JET program, I hope they don't randomly scrap it.
I visited a mate doing that; he's been having a great time. Although apparently some Japanese school kids have a habit of sharply poking their gaijin teachers in an inappropriate place when they aren't looking :shock:
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Re: Japan should never become a multiethnic society

Postby BoomFrog » Sat Apr 25, 2009 11:09 am UTC

cycoden wrote:I'll bite :P
Stormlock wrote:Japan isn't a closed system, but it's not open in useful ways. If it were, the correct solution to the labour shortage and aging population would be to deport old old people. No more aging population problem. Unless this is going to become an option in another 40 years, importing young labourers isn't going to help much.
Which countries currently deport their old people? To where? The solution to the problem you describe is to encourage immigration to smooth the demographic curve. The other alternative is raising birth rates, but if you are already suffering problems due to an aging population, then you've kind of already missed the boat. Of course, theres always the Soylent Green solution...


I don't think Storm's exporting old people idea was any more serious then your soylent green idea. Storm is mostly right. Either you bite the bullet sometime on the declining population or your population grows forever. If the population grows then the quality of life goes down.

However, where I disagree with storm is that your quality of life can be improved by immigration. For example it is very expensive to higher a nanny in Japan because there aren't poor immigrents to fill the job.* Immigrants immigrate to improve their quality of life (or that of their children at least). If Japan had more immigrants then their quality of life would be improved by the cheeper services they could have, and the immigrants lives are improved. Everyone's better off, where's the problem? The key point is have programs where immigrants can get free language and culture lessons to help them integrate into Japanesse society then their won't be a cultural divide.

*This also contributes to the lower birth rates bacuase women want to have a career not be stay at home mommys. But nanny's are too expensive, so they put of childbirth.
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Re: Japan should never become a multiethnic society

Postby Amarantha » Sat Apr 25, 2009 11:25 am UTC

cycoden wrote:Although apparently some Japanese school kids have a habit of sharply poking their gaijin teachers in an inappropriate place when they aren't looking :shock:
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Re: Japan should never become a multiethnic society

Postby Naurgul » Sat Apr 25, 2009 12:11 pm UTC

Amarantha wrote:
cycoden wrote:Although apparently some Japanese school kids have a habit of sharply poking their gaijin teachers in an inappropriate place when they aren't looking :shock:
Kancho!

You know how you sometimes regret doing things that are generally considered inherently good? Like knowing more about other cultures? I think this is one of those times. :|
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Re: Japan should never become a multiethnic society

Postby psyck0 » Sat Apr 25, 2009 12:16 pm UTC

You know, I'm actually cool with Japan isolating itself. I am NOT a fan of its culture or government, and maybe if it shoots itself in the foot enough times with this it will learn. It sucks that the people have to suffer, but then again they're the misogynist racist dicks who voted in the assholes in Japan that deny any responsibility for WWII and like to pretend as if they never needlessly slaughtered millions of Chinese or enslaved Chinese women to use as whores.

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Re: Japan should never become a multiethnic society

Postby Gellert1984 » Sat Apr 25, 2009 1:00 pm UTC

psyck0 wrote:You know, I'm actually cool with Japan isolating itself. I am NOT a fan of its culture or government, and maybe if it shoots itself in the foot enough times with this it will learn. It sucks that the people have to suffer, but then again they're the misogynist racist dicks who voted in the assholes in Japan that deny any responsibility for WWII and like to pretend as if they never needlessly slaughtered millions of Chinese or enslaved Chinese women to use as whores.


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Re: Japan should never become a multiethnic society

Postby The Great Hippo » Sat Apr 25, 2009 1:32 pm UTC

Stormlock wrote:Well, it seems to have served them pretty well so far. Immigration causes numerous problems, if it's not necessary (and immigration really makes no sense in the long run), avoiding it seems like a good idea.
...buh? You are aware that one of the primary reasons America is at the forefront of technology and finances is because of immigration in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, right? Like, if we hadn't had the immigration, we wouldn't be anywhere near as bad-ass as we are now? We wouldn't have had the immense infrastructure rehaul (who do you think built the railroads), the industrial complex (who do you think ran those industries), or even the nuclear bomb (who do you think created the founding equation and was one of the primary motivators for initiating the Manhattan Project?).

Immigration is immensely positive. Most of the problems you're citing ("they don't know the language, they'll piss off the locals, they can't get a job because they're different, they'll be oppressed by those in power because of inequalities") are the result of friction that happens when two cultures collide. This is inevitable and avoiding it is a lot like avoiding taking your medicine because it tastes 'nasty'. A lot of these problems start to diffuse when the government actually encourages the immigrants and works with them to make them productive members of society, too. So, yeah - Japan should encourage the fuck out of immigrants, because immigration almost always has a net positive effect.

The guy in the article is either ridiculously xenophobic or ridiculously stupid when it comes to immigration. Probably both.

Edit: I will concede that it's not all happy sunshine rainbow times with immigration - infusing the population with large quantities of unskilled workers can have a lot of detrimental effects - healthcare becomes an immense issue, it becomes a strain on a government's social system - but encouraging immigration and encouraging immigrants to become contributing members of society (and turn into skilled workers) has, historically, had a net positive effect on societies. I don't see how anyone looking at history (especially US history) could argue any differently.

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Re: Japan should never become a multiethnic society

Postby gmalivuk » Sat Apr 25, 2009 1:55 pm UTC

Just fyi, guys, when my dog thinks it's people I mostly ignore it. Makes the discussion more productive.
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Re: Japan should never become a multiethnic society

Postby The Great Hippo » Sat Apr 25, 2009 2:17 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:Just fyi, guys, when my dog thinks it's people I mostly ignore it. Makes the discussion more productive.
...I just noticed that. Oh, man. That is precious.

I think there are downsides, but most of them are short-term, not long-term (seriously? long-term repercussions of immigration? I mean, seriously?). Language barriers, cultural barriers, and just the financial stresses that are caused by an immense infusion of poor people with barriers to upward financial mobility. But if you're interested in the big picture, opposing immigration is basically the equivalent of opposing technological, infrastructural, and cultural evolution. You could even go so far as to call it 'unpatriotic', if you had any interest in whether or not an action was 'patriotic' or 'unpatriotic'.

As per usual, I blame romantic nationalism, terror of the 'foreign intruders invading our women's wombs!', and just general ignorance of any sense of history whatsoever.

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Re: Japan should never become a multiethnic society

Postby gmalivuk » Sat Apr 25, 2009 2:27 pm UTC

Yes, there are many long-term repercussions of immigration. For example, I can get good Italian food in the North End. And there's a place we ate just last night where you can buy fish and chips with curry *or* gravy, which I'm told is impossible in the UK because the English and the Scottish hate each other.

Of course, probably the most noticeable long-term repercussion of immigration where I live can be seen in the fact that I'm typing this in English, rather than Pawtucket or Massachusett or Wampanoag...
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Re: Japan should never become a multiethnic society

Postby Diadem » Sat Apr 25, 2009 2:34 pm UTC

I don't even understand the logic behind this idea.

They are specifically targetting Latin-American immigrants of Japanese descent? Is that some kind of weird inverted racism? Or are they thinking along the lines of "You betrayed our nation by leaving once, now don't come back"? I really don't get it.

If I were a racist, I would try to stop immigrants, and try to get them to return. But why would I target immigrants who are originally Japanese?
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Re: Japan should never become a multiethnic society

Postby The Great Hippo » Sat Apr 25, 2009 2:39 pm UTC

Not to be all Mary Quite Contrary, but I have to mention -- there is a big difference between government sanctioned immigration and colonialism. I only point this out because I've seen a lot of anti-immigration whackjobs throw out the 'Yeah, go ask the Native Americans about how great immigration is, huh' line -- which really indicates what's going on in their heads.

They think immigrants will come over here, steal our land, rape our women, and systematically genocide the fuck out of us.
Diadem wrote:If I were a racist, I would try to stop immigrants, and try to get them to return. But why would I target immigrants who are originally Japanese?
They aren't 'Japanese', they're 'part Japanese'. Check out 'Mulatto' in the US for a corollary - most racist narratives involve the expulsion of not only those who are not of your 'race', but those who are only partly your 'race'. At the very least, if they're going to stay, those who are only part whatever are expected to show absolute deference to the dominant native culture.

Also, racist narratives often include corollaries for those who 'conspire' with other 'races'. See 'race-traitor'.

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Re: Japan should never become a multiethnic society

Postby Lucrece » Sat Apr 25, 2009 2:41 pm UTC

If you look at Japanese media and how it has treated racial/ethnic minorities, it doesn't take this article to understand what a prejudiced culture it can be.

Blacks in particular are often depicted in ways some couldn't even fathom happening in the U.S. without mass outrage.
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Re: Japan should never become a multiethnic society

Postby Kizyr » Sat Apr 25, 2009 5:05 pm UTC

Well, this is going to be a bit of a long post... First off, while I was studying in Japan, I did get to know a lot of immigrants (mostly from India/Pakistan/Bangladesh, some from elsewhere), and I'm a bit familiar with some of their immigration laws as a result. Some of this is coming from that perspective, just as a warning that I do have a disposition against Japanese immigration policies.

Diadem wrote:They are specifically targetting Latin-American immigrants of Japanese descent? Is that some kind of weird inverted racism? Or are they thinking along the lines of "You betrayed our nation by leaving once, now don't come back"? I really don't get it.
If I were a racist, I would try to stop immigrants, and try to get them to return. But why would I target immigrants who are originally Japanese?

The Great Hippo wrote:They aren't 'Japanese', they're 'part Japanese'. Check out 'Mulatto' in the US for a corollary - most racist narratives involve the expulsion of not only those who are not of your 'race', but those who are only partly your 'race'.

Hippo's actually a bit off with this one... Japanese descent is the reason they were able to come in and work in Japan in the first place. It's not that they're discriminating against them because they're only part-Japanese, but there's almost no one who's fully Latino on a legal work visa in the country.

Basically, Japan has a racial preference system when it comes to immigration (work visas or citizenship especially). So, someone with Japanese descent, or second-generation Japanese (nikkeijin), can be on a 'fast-track' for immigration. A few generations ago, many Japanese immigrated to Brazil (which has something like the 2nd or 3rd highest Japanese population outside of Japan--the US, Brazil, and Peru are the top three if memory serves me right). So, when the economy of Japan was noticeably better than Brazil's, many of their descendants started immigrating back. For someone who has no Japanese descent, it's nearly impossible to get a work visa--especially if you're coming in for a blue-collar job.

BoomFrog wrote:However, where I disagree with storm is that your quality of life can be improved by immigration. For example it is very expensive to higher a nanny in Japan because there aren't poor immigrents to fill the job.*

I noticed a lot of Filipinos working as nurses to deal with that shortage as well.
Just agreeing with BoomFrog here and providing a second example.

Gelsamel wrote:Actually I'm seriously considering doing that JET program, I hope they don't randomly scrap it.

They're cutting back on a ton of positions, either letting people go right now, or not renewing positions at the end of contracts (so there won't be an opening after many people are finished). JET itself is unlikely to go completely, but it's gotten ridiculously competitive in the last few years, and it's just going to get more so.

Dibley wrote:Wait, I know they have some issues with misogyny, and a very low birthrate, but I was unaware they were related. Explain please?

Gelsamel and cycoden already covered part of this. I'll try to give a quick version of some of the problems I see.

More women are generally putting off marriage compared to a generation ago (late 20s as opposed to early 20s), and either having fewer children, or no children at all--the current birthrate is something like 1.6 if I remember correctly (it's below 2.1 replacement levels, but I can't remember exactly off the top of my head). Where this ties into misogyny, if you ask me, is when it comes to the labor market.

Although this is gradually changing, in a lot of companies you'll rarely find things like paid maternity leave, day care services, or sometimes general understanding that you need to have free time to spend with your families (and so you can't stay after work from 6pm to 11pm drinking with coworkers, and can't come in every Saturday)--a lot of things we sort of take for granted in the US. What's worse is that if a woman tries to get a job, she can run up against an employer who assumes that she'll leave once she gets married. Since there's more of an "employment for life" model within Japanese companies (you start at the bottom and work your way up, and there's little switching between companies since you'd have to start at the bottom again) this provides an incentive for said employer to put her in part-time or menial work, so that when she presumably leaves, she's not in any irreplaceable position.

I do hear this is changing, depending on the company. But that, plus the lack of a decent support structure for working mothers, is one thing that contributes to women wanting to put off marriage for later or indefinitely. Also, raising a family in Japan is expensive, given the general cost of living and property, so there are also financial disincentives for having many children.

So... now it's time for my dawg's posts. This should be fun:
Stormlock wrote:Their work force is too small because it is aging. Increasing the workforce will simply make the problem bigger and put it off for a generation.

Basic demographics. I'll try to give a crash-course here.
Before you begin, check out the population pyramids for:
United States
and
Japan

These are graphs showing population by age groups for the entire country, and projections for 2025 and 2050. Bear in mind that the working-age population is generally 20 to 65. For Japan, do you see that sharp decline as you go below the 25-29 age group? That's the result of the current low birthrates. Now, note the 2025 projection: do you see how the population has "aged upwards"? There are more people in the 65-and-over group (Japan has the highest life expectancy of the world, at about 84 last I checked); this means a higher population, but fewer people around to support that standard of living.

Keep in mind that people who are retired draw off of savings accounts and pensions. The health of these is generally tied into the health of the economy. So, anyone who is working is supporting the elderly, either directly or indirectly. So if there's a drastically reduced number of people working in the country, and a greater number of elderly, then that does spell problems for everyone's well-being.

The general solution is either to (a) make your diminished workforce more productive, or (b) fill in the population gap with a workforce from abroad. The US generally gets by on a mixture of (a) and (b); Japan tries to get by mostly with (a), and occasionally in desperation lawmakers will allow a bit of (b).

Stormlock wrote: An influx of young workers will help with the aging workplace right now... but 40 years down the line when they are aging, you'll have to increase the population even more. Repeat until you want to swallow the pill of population dropping or at least remaining stable, which sucks, but is necessary in the long term.

A basic understanding of how demographics works will clear up the confusion you're having here. At a simple level, an influx of young workers will help the aging workplace right now, and until the elderly-to-working age ratio is more evenly balanced (not necessarily numerically). After that point, unless someone discovers immortality, the small birthrate over the last 2 decades will translate into a smaller number of elderly (refer to the population pyramid again and picture the population aging upwards, or just look at the 2025/2050 projections). On the long-term level, if immigrants can remain and support families there, it could have other effects on raising their birthrate closer to replacement levels.

Stormlock wrote:I don't know what the streets are paved with, but the housing is about 1000$ a month for a tiny one person apartment. Good luck finding a job that pays that much + other expenses if you don't know the language or even culture.

...it's not that difficult. And I wish I were only paying $1000 for my apartment. If you get accommodations an hour outside a major city and live with other people, then it becomes more affordable. On a blue-collar salary, it's not great, but it's not impossible.

Re: pissing off your boss, recall that the original post refers to people who were brought over in order to work for a particular company. It's extremely difficult (if not impossible) to get a work-visa to come to Japan if there isn't already a company offering you a job there--in other words, you can't get in and then look for work.

Stormlock wrote:I mean, imagine Tokyo with slums. A labour shortage is a good thing compared to the alternative. More competition for employees, higher average wages, better working conditions.

The Tokyo slums just look better than your average slums here. The crime rate's ridiculously low, though, and I'll grant that. But we're not talking about some paradise where nobody is poor.

Stormlock wrote:Immigration is a great (and evil) idea if you own a large business and would like to hire some cheap workers for less than you'd pay a native resident. See the US - Mexican border. It does, however, have the downside of basically importing a lot of poor people to the country, whom will often send money out of the country to their family. Given that poor people are more prone to being involved in crime, have poorer education and health, and pay little or no taxes, is this really a good option? Sure, if a wealthy person wants to immigrate there they'd be foolish to turn him down, but why would a wealthy person want to? It'd likely be harder to do business after all.

It's not as though they're going to dwindle away to nothing. Birthrates naturally rise and fall with economies. Once enough old people kick the bucket there'll be more money in the system per person and more people can afford to have bigger families.

The first paragraph makes a lot of assumptions that I find too unsubstantiated to really bother with. However, I will say that it's not an issue of it being a "good" option, but of it being the best option available. Right now, it seems that lawmakers are more interested in going entirely with productivity improvements and mechanization, which isn't going to be enough for all sectors of the economy. For your second paragraph, I gotta refer you to the population pyramids and basic demographics again: yes, once there are fewer elderly then there will be less of a problem, but that won't occur for about 60 years, and in the meantime the working-age's production has to be boosted somehow.

Well, that's it for now. KF
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Re: Japan should never become a multiethnic society

Postby Stormlock » Sat Apr 25, 2009 5:44 pm UTC

Stormlock wrote:Edit because so many people I've met over the years ignore or don't notice this problem: You cannot infinitely increase the population within a closed system without infinitely reducing the quality of life as well.


Ok, when someone addresses THIS, then they can go on about how Japan should increase it's population. Not before. Immigration has been good to the US so far because the US is fucking HUGE and filled with arable land and fishable coasts. If the US had the population of India, it'd be even more powerful, but life would suck a lot more. This is essentially what you suggest is a good idea for Japan, fixing the current and long term term demographics issue by giving it an endless population growth issue. I'm arguing that they might as well stop growing now, while they're already so overpopulated their birthrate is below 2.1. Where exactly they should stop is debatable, but I don't see any advantage to stabilizing their population growth 50 years later with double the population and much poorer quality of life than they have currently.

And yes, deporting old people was a joke. I was simply pointing out that just because something is an open system, that doesn't mean it's useful in open ways. Technically the earth is an open system. However, that doesn't mean we have control over it. We can't just decide to let in more or less sunlight, import some ozone to the poles and dump our toxic waste onto the moon. Neither will Japan ever be able to fix the problem of a growing population without enduring a difficult population pyramid.

Edit: Found a pretty picture for you to look at. Should China encourage immigration and higher birth rates too to fend off this problem? http://www.iiasa.ac.at/Research/LUC/Chi ... op_ani.htm
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Re: Japan should never become a multiethnic society

Postby Vaniver » Sat Apr 25, 2009 6:08 pm UTC

Stormlock wrote:As far as nationalism, I'd have to say China, North Korea, and the US are the world leaders in that right now. Japan hasn't been at war in the last 50 years as far as I'm aware.
You are aware that that's because we dropped nuclear bombs on them and took away their military, right? They really haven't had too much in the way of choice in the manner. And given the recent government's denial of Japanese WWII atrocities and rewriting of history books...

Stormlock wrote:You cannot infinitely increase the population within a closed system without infinitely reducing the quality of life as well.

Ok, when someone addresses THIS, then they can go on about how Japan should increase it's population.
It depends on the input factors of quality of life. Pretend for a moment that it's just GDP per capita. So long as GDP per capita stays constant (which will happen if your GDP growth rate equals your population growth rate), then quality of life will stay constant. For most industrialized countries, GDP per capita grows faster than population growth- even in America, with its giant influx of immigration.

Quality of life is not a zero-sum game. And the quality of life of natives is improved by the existence of immigrants- for example, those who purchase any good or service that immigrants perform can do so more cheaply because of the immigrants who increase the supply, which means they have more money left over to buy other things, increasing quality of life.

Now, it's true that there are things like population density that can negatively impact quality of life, especially in countries like Japan. But a dwindling native population means that each additional immigrant is less of a problem when it comes to population density.
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Re: Japan should never become a multiethnic society

Postby The Great Hippo » Sat Apr 25, 2009 6:12 pm UTC

Kizyr wrote:Hippo's actually a bit off with this one... Japanese descent is the reason they were able to come in and work in Japan in the first place. It's not that they're discriminating against them because they're only part-Japanese, but there's almost no one who's fully Latino on a legal work visa in the country.
Ah! My bad, I apologize - I'm not intimately familiar with the metrics of this situation - just using my knowledge of US immigration policies and racism to draw some (in this case, incorrect!) corollaries.


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