Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Is Japan closing its doors to immigrants?

The New York Times reported on 2 January that foreigners in Japan are finding it hard to stay longer in the country.
With its aging population and low fertility rate, the Land of the Rising Sun needs to replenish its work force through international people. However, health workers in particular, find it hard to penetrate the Japanese society due to its difficult qualifying exams "designed" to make it difficult for foreigners to pass.
In fact, since 2007, only one Filipino and two Indonesian nurses among the 600 examinees, passed the Japanese-language nursing exams. A monthly income of US$2,400 is very attractive for foreign nurses.
According to a radio report in the Philippines, the Labor Secretary announced that Japan will from now on conduct the nursing exams in the English language so that more foreigners will pass.
In a country that embraces globalization, it is strange that only 8.5 percent of foreigners who graduated in Japanese educational institutions landed jobs in 2008.
Japan's elderly population is growing especially in the next few years when baby-boomers enter the age bracket.
Other issues that were raised was that it is hard to make friends with the Japanese and foreigners are not "welcome" in the society.
Despite the gloomy picture, The Japan Times paints a brighter scenario of the plight of three naturalized Japanese who have stayed for 27 to 42 years in the country.
The experiences shared by these three accomplished individuals is that they just ignore being treated as foreigners such as their expertise in using chopsticks or their fluency with the language. They think that the Japanese merely mention those things short of having anything to say.
Of course, the physical appearance is a major factor why the Japanese will see foreigners as aliens no matter how long they had stayed there.
The three professionals agree that it is possible to shine in Japan particularly when he is very adept with the language.
Author's note: People have different perceptions. One's view of Japan heavily depends on his experiences. True, the country has every right to impose what she thinks is good for her citizens. It is up for international people how to go about it. Japan does not impose inhumane treatment. It's not a perfect country but it is not bad either. In fact, in the author's experiences, it is one of the most democratic countries in the few places he had been.
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