Things That Matter

Japan Is In Crisis Due To Super Low Immigration Thanks To Its Anti-Immigration Laws, Is This What Trump Wants For The US?

Immigration is key to healthy demographics in any country. The flow of people to and from a country generates cultural exchange, human connections, artistic creation and, yes, even huge amounts of money that makes economies healthier. If you stop migration altogether, or if your society is mono-racial even in these globalized times, you risk facing severe issues, just like Japan is experiencing today. The Japanese experience can work as a we-told-you-so tale of what shutting your borders brings for the future. 

Let’s get something straight: unless you are Native-American, you are a product of immigration.

Credit: Instagram. @nativeamericansoul

The United States is a multicultural mosaic product of various processes of voluntary and forced migration. The territory that is now the US has hosted flows of people from diverse European countries, first from Ireland and the United Kingdom, and then from places such as Italy, Germany, Greece and Poland. Millions of Africans were forcibly removed from their land and brought to America as slaves. Asian and Latin American migration has also provided an extra layer of cultural complexity and richness to the American social fabric. This rich past is what makes up the composition of the United States of America. So unless you come from the original owners of the land, you are also a product of migration, as is everyone in government including Donald J. Trump. Let’s learn from Japan, shall we?

So what is the deal with Japan? Easy, it’s population is shrinking! 

Credit: Instagram. @acchi_kocchi

No, not like in the classic 1980s movie Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. Rather, Japanese society is suffering from a simple and dire mathematical problem: there are not enough people being born to balance for the people who are dying. This might seem commendable and even ideal for people who argue that the world doesn’t need any more people, and that a society with less individuals would thrive. But it is not that simple…

Society remains largely conservative.

Credit: Instagram. @japan_related

Japanese women have made huge progress in recent decades and become part of the specialized workforce. In a highly hierarchical society, some women now hold positions of power in business and government. Many young women fear that having a baby will be a step backwards in their careers. As The Times reports, birthrates have a huge impact in the economy: “No single factor explains Japan’s waning position within the global economy, but its shrinking and ageing population lies at the core of its problems. The median age of a Japanese inhabitant is almost 47. This is nine years older than in the US and six years greater than in the UK. The Japanese birthrate is falling and the population has shrunk for ten years in a row”. So migration is the logical step to fix Japan’s demographics. 

There are no new workers to replace the old workers, so the economy is lagging.

Credit: Instagram. @louis_gan

As reported by The Washington Post, Japanese babies are not keeping up with the old. That means that people being born are not enough to make up for elders passing away. The sales for adult diapers are larger than those of baby nappies. This translates into a workforce that is ageing and is now insufficient. This results into a disaster in both personal and national levels. The elder abandon their houses and these remain unoccupied and just rot away. The Japanese even have a term for these casas abandonadas: Akiya. There are up to 8 million abandoned houses in Japan. Also, the state faces the huge economic burden to take care of the old while younger generations don’t want to have kids. 

Japan is traditionally shut to mass migration and has tough on immigration laws.

Credit: Instagram. @louis_gan

In other developed countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia mass migration makes up for gaps in the workforce. In the United States, for example, the brasero program originally brought thousands of Mexican laborers to the country’s fields.

In Australia, even though the country has very tough border policies that sometimes verge in the inhumane, the government has various programs of skilled migration. That is simply not the case in Japan. Authorities are getting tougher (sounds familiar?) as reported by China Daily Hong Kong Edition: “A record number of foreigners living in Japan were stripped of their residency status in 2018, data from the country’s Immigration Services Agency showed, even as Japan is widening its doors to foreign workers. The immigration agency said on Wednesday that it revoked visas of 832 people last year, more than doubled the figure of a year earlier. Almost 70 percent of them were students and technical trainees who failed to follow visa requirements”. These individuals were mainly Asians as well: Vietnamese, Chinese, Nepalese and Filipinos. 

An anti-immigration policy that needs to be changed for Japan to thrive?

Credit: Instagram. @ettyliu

The outlook for the country is so pessimistic that even conservative politicians are considering changing their approach to migration. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been facing pressure from the business sector, and is opening new avenues for foreign workers. However, as reported by The Washington Post, those efforts are limited because they simply don’t lend themselves to integration: “The government has begun making more work permits available to foreign workers, but makes little effort to help them integrate. Visa rules force most foreign workers to apply for extensions frequently and prevent them from bringing their families”. Can you imagine that? Yes, we surely can, that is the type of place that Trump policies could turn America into. 

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