FOREIGNERS IN JAPAN : A Historical Perspective

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This was an unequal treaty, including clauses giving the United States the status of most-favored nation and fixing custom duties. Custom duties were set extremely low and Japan could not alter them. As a result, the successive exports of large quantities of raw silk and tea led to domestic shortages, sending prices soaring. Conversely, imports of cheap cloth hit the earnings of Japanese cotton farmers and the fabric industry.

Commodore Matthew Perry and his men are welcomed to Yokohama. Courtesy Yokohama Archives of History. The confusion of the opening of the country transformed into rancor against foreigners. Yet in , he was assassinated on his way to Edo Castle by rogue warriors opposed to foreign influence in Japan.

Ii Naosuke is assassinated outside Sakuradamon. Courtesy Ibaraki Prefectural Library. To prevent Japan becoming a colony, it was necessary to rapidly construct a modern state. Courtesy Yamaguchi Prefectural Museum.

As Its Population Ages, Japan Quietly Turns to Immigration |

The meeting decided that Yoshinobu must resign his offices and return all Tokugawa land to the court. The moderates in the new government gained the upper hand temporarily, and it was decided that Yoshinobu could become part of the cabinet. This set the stage for the Battle of Toba-Fushimi south of the city. In the first conflict of the Boshin Civil War, the forces of the new Meiji government defeated those of the former shogunate and Yoshinobu fled to Edo.

Courtesy Fukui City History Museum. This avoided a devastating all-out attack on the city and guaranteed the safety of Yoshinobu.

Resistance to the new government continued, however, in northern Japan through and into During this period, the Meiji government promulgated the Charter Oath, pledging respect for public opinion and amicable relations with other countries. With reference to the US Constitution, it drew up a document establishing a tripartite separation of powers.

The Charter Oath published in by the Meiji government. Courtesy National Diet Library. This was purely cosmetic; while they received new titles replacing their powerful positions before, the domain leaders retained control over local politics. What was more, many of the soldiers who had fought in the war returned to their various domains, leaving the national government with almost no military power. Foreseeing a second civil conflict, the domains began comprehensive military reforms. The Battle of Hakodate. Courtesy Hakodate City Museum. The domains were to be replaced by prefectures subordinate to a centralized government.

The domain leaders were gathered in Tokyo for the announcement and ordered to reside in the capital. In any case, the domains disappeared, and the new government succeeded in unifying the country politically. This laid the foundations for a remarkable social transformation over a short period. By rapidly modernizing, Japan aimed to build up its economic and military power and escape becoming a Western colony.

Under the shogunate, farmers were the main targets of taxation. Depending on the harvest, revenues could vary greatly from year to year. The Meiji government moved to set the tax burden on landowners, issuing bonds on which the value of land was written. Just , babies were born in , a record low since official records began in , while an increase in deaths accelerated the population decline.

The decline means a shrinking cohort of workers is left supporting an increasingly elderly population in need of healthcare and pensions. Germany is a also a "super-aged" nation. While the EU and US veer towards populism and adopt anti-immigrant stances, in Asia nations are competing for new arrivals, potentially reversing the power balance between immigrants and host countries. If Abe is to prevent Japan's population from dipping below million by , he will need to provide migrants good reasons to choose the country, says Hisakazu Kato, an economics professor at Meiji University in Tokyo.

Nguyen points to Japan's solid environmental practices and strong safety record as appealing factors. But the country's historic failure to integrate previous waves of foreign workers raises questions as to why migrants would choose to come to Japan. Faced with labor shortages in the s Japan revised its immigration rules to offer long-term, renewable visas to the descendants of Japanese immigrants who had moved to Latin American after World War II.

But when the economy slumped in , the government urged those same immigrants to return to Brazil and the other Latin American nations where they had moved from.

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Singapore has a very different track record. Since independence in , the small South-east Asian city state has built a diverse society by taking in large numbers of immigrants from neighboring Asian countries. Today, foreigners make up more than one-third of Singapore's labor force , though conditions are challenging for low-skilled laborers and numerous abuses exist.

On its website , the Singapore government states that non-resident foreigners do jobs Singaporeans don't want, and do not compete with locals for high-paying professional or managerial jobs. The new visa will allow blue collar workers to stay in Japan for up to five years. Experts argue that Japan lags behind other industrialized countries in extolling the benefits of immigration to its domestic population.

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As immigration policy has failed to keep up with demand, temporary fixes have plugged the gap. Foreigners on student visas, for example, can work up to 28 hours per week -- but Japan has been accused of using students to fill labor shortages. Nguyen, who is studying for a masters degree, is one of thousands of young international students and foreign workers trying to make a go of it in Japan. In , the number of foreign residents reached a record high of 2. On a bustling Tokyo side street is the office of Inbound Japan, a concierge service and cultural interpreter for foreign students struggling to navigate living and working in Japan.

Five years ago, Inbound Japan started providing foreign students with cheap dorm rooms. Its range of services grew as people wanted help getting phone contracts, setting up bank accounts, going to hospital and finding part-time jobs. Yusuke Furumi, an employee there, hopes Japan can gradually become more open to the idea of working alongside foreigners, and make it easier for them to stay and contribute to the economy and society.

Once a booming fishing port, today Muroto has a graying community. Vacant houses pockmark the area where the town's bars once thrived. Many of the town's public facilities such as hospitals and elementary schools have shut down.

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So when Mie Kinoshita was unable to find a mechanic to work in her car dealership in , she decided to outsource her needs -- and applied to receive technical interns from the Philippines. John Riggs Ancino is shadowing Masahiro Maeda. The scheme has faced frequent criticism since its establishment in In theory, the TITP allows low-skilled workers to come to Japan to learn technical skills they can later take back to their home countries.

Foreigners in Japan: student stories

But opponents of the program allege it has been used as a loophole to plug gaps in the domestic labor market. Trainees, meanwhile, have reported frequent instances of workplace abuse and bullying. Kinoshita was aware of the horror stories. To help create a more welcoming environment, she bought a house for her staff. On arrival in Japan, the pair received several weeks of Japanese language and culture lessons. Masoto Yasuda, a mechanic in his late 30s, adds: "I want to go to the Philippines now.

It hadn't really crossed my mind before I met them. Both local and foreign workers at the car dealership said they hoped the immigrants could stay in Japan.

FOREIGNERS IN JAPAN : A Historical Perspective FOREIGNERS IN JAPAN : A Historical Perspective
FOREIGNERS IN JAPAN : A Historical Perspective FOREIGNERS IN JAPAN : A Historical Perspective
FOREIGNERS IN JAPAN : A Historical Perspective FOREIGNERS IN JAPAN : A Historical Perspective
FOREIGNERS IN JAPAN : A Historical Perspective FOREIGNERS IN JAPAN : A Historical Perspective
FOREIGNERS IN JAPAN : A Historical Perspective FOREIGNERS IN JAPAN : A Historical Perspective
FOREIGNERS IN JAPAN : A Historical Perspective FOREIGNERS IN JAPAN : A Historical Perspective
FOREIGNERS IN JAPAN : A Historical Perspective FOREIGNERS IN JAPAN : A Historical Perspective
FOREIGNERS IN JAPAN : A Historical Perspective FOREIGNERS IN JAPAN : A Historical Perspective
FOREIGNERS IN JAPAN : A Historical Perspective FOREIGNERS IN JAPAN : A Historical Perspective

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