Only Immigrants Can Save Japan

In this article, [reference?] Michael Hoffman writes about Hidenori Sakanaka, the former Head of the ministry’s Tokyo Immigration Bureau and current Executive Director of the Japan Immigration Policy Institute, surprisingly push for immigration.  With its aging population and low fertility rates, Japan’s population and labor force are both shrinking.  At its peak, Japan’s population was at 128 million in 2004 and has been declining ever since.  The National Institute of Population and Social Policy Research predicts that 40% of Japanese people will be over 65 years old, and these people will be out of the labor force.  Diamond explains that “no nation, barring war or plague, has ever shrunk at such pace, and as for aging, there are no historical precedents of any kind”.  These stats and comparison to all other countries throughout civilization show the severity of the issue.

Despite this evidence, Sakanaka belief is considered revolutionary in Japan.  He believes that Japan needs to focus on demographics, and has even said, “Japan is on the brink of collapse.”  In order to combat this population crisis, Sakanaka thinks that Japan needs 10 million immigrants between now and 2050.  This is the opposite of Japan’s mentality.  Japan has been known as the “closed country” until the US Naval fleet came to its shores in 1853.  Japan is a country filled with cultural pride.  I believe that this strong cultural pride will make it hard for Japan to open up to immigration.  However, it is interesting that a former Japanese bureaucrat is starting this immigration revolution.

2 thoughts on “Only Immigrants Can Save Japan

  1. wilburns

    I find it interesting that the article doesn’t seem to address Japan’s unique immigration issues in terms of the language barrier. Japanese is an incredibly unique and difficult language that cannot be easily picked up as, say, an English speaker could Spanish or an Italian speaker could French. Immigration for Japan I would imagine wouldn’t be nearly as easy as it is between the US and Latin America. Spanish and English are so incredibly similar, it’s comparatively easy for immigration between those languages’ respective countries. I wonder if such a study has been done?

  2. Henry

    Maybe Japan can look for more immigrants from east asian countries such as China and Korea where the languages and cultures have much more similarities.

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