Present Japan is facing various crises; a weakening economic influence, a widening gap between rich and poor, an increasing elderly population and declining birthrate with its associated labor shortage. There is heated debate over how best to respond to them, but while there is wide variety of opinion, one thing is clear – Japan’s future prosperity will require more immigration.
While the debate surrounding immigration is contentious and divisive, the need for more immigrants is being recognized. Needless to say, the economic benefits of increased immigration are obvious. However, the tendency to discuss immigration issues in an economic frame should be changed. If not, immigrants will only be perceived as resources, and the response will be more to “tolerate their entry” rather than “positively accept them”. As a result, the abundance of other benefits that arise through increased immigration will be overlooked.
As an Australian – a country with many immigrants – I see these benefits daily. In fact, Australia owes much of its prosperity to immigration. Because of it, Australia has become a vibrant and diverse multicultural society. Through the coexistence of various races, the world-view of people has broadened, and has led to a deeper respect and appreciation towards different cultures.
Of course, immigration has its problems; crime may increase, and racist conservative reactions will grow stronger and spread. However, through intercultural understanding and a positive reception from the local people, it will become easier for immigrants to assimilate, and a society based on peaceful coexistence will blossom. In this way, the problems mentioned earlier will decrease.
The establishment of a peaceful multiracial society is not created by government policy, but by the response and actions from general society. There is no doubt that immigration to Japan will increase from now. This reality should not be opposed; rather, it should be thought of a big chance for Japan’s rebirth as a prosperous nation.
This January for around 4 weeks, I undertook an internship at Global Community. As a foreign student majoring in Journalism and Japanese, it was a unique experience. Not only did I learn more about Japanese language and culture, as an aspiring journalist, it was an opportunity to genuinely test my skills and ability. As a result, in an industry where experience is the most required asset, this internship was extremely beneficial.
Thanks to the interviews and activities as a part of this internship, I was able to meet many interesting people working in a wide range of fields. Those that stick out in my mind were pro-diver Masanobu Shibuya-san and head of the Yamamoto School Masanobu Yamamoto-san. Seeing people who devote their lives fully to improving society, I too strongly felt I wanted to contribute to society in my future life and career.
In a Japan where foreigners will increase from now, Global Community will continue to play an important role in supporting and developing intercultural understanding; I am happy I was able to help out in that role. Finally to Miyazaki-san, who guided me throughout my internship, I would like to express my deepest thanks and gratitude.
By Lance Truong （Monash University Australia）