09.17.18 7:18AM ET
Japan’s xenophobia runs deep, and it’s something the country will have to conquer if it hopes to be a winning nation.
Osaka’s victory has raised questions about what it means to be Japanese and whether Japan is ready to create the multiracial society it needs to survive and thrive as a nation. Japan’s xenophobia runs deep, and it’s something the country will have to conquer if it hopes to be a winning nation.
She was asked at a press conference last week, in the Japanese language, “Your achievements have some people saying it’s time to re-evaluate the old idea of Japanese identity, which is to be Japanese you have to be born of a Japanese man and woman… how do you see your identity?”
She responded with, “Is that a question?”
The alt-right in the U.S. and extremist elements in Japan like to credit ethnic homogeneity in Japan as the reason crime is so low and fatal shootings remain in single digits almost every year.
No. That’s primarily due to an omnipresent well-paid police force and gun-control laws that are strictly enforced.
Even in what appears to be an ethnically homogenous society, especially one that values conformity and harmony, there are layers and layers of discrimination and xenophobia. Japan, once allied to Nazi Germany, inherited much of the racism that was prevalent in the West before and after World War II. And of course, Japanese women, just on the basis of being women, and the LGBT community here, face discrimination all the time.
Prime Minister Abe has announced bold plans to bring more foreign workers into Japan, but refuses to use the word “immigration” or offer up any road map to let these people of “gaijin blood” become Japanese citizens. The government has been faulted by the United Nations for failing to deal with hate speech and appears to even be stoking the flames of xenophobia and prejudice.
Japan has to decide how to combat racism, embrace multiculturalism and tolerance if it wants to survive.
Japan has to become more welcoming of foreigners and multinationals.
Yes, ironically, in a broader sense Nikkan Gendai is correct: Japan is really going to have to “rely on foreigner blood.”
It’s a matter of mathematics.
As far back as the year 2000, the United Nations Population Division in a paper, “Replacement Migration: Is It a Solution to Declining and Aging Populations?” noted, “In order to keep the size of the working-age population constant at the 1995 level of 87.2 million, Japan would need 33.5 million immigrants from 1995 through 2050.”
Changing the laws to recognize multi-nationality wouldn’t be hard. It would certainly be much easier than a vigorously opposed attempt to rewrite Japan’s constitution. Discouraging racism, embracing diversity, and welcoming more people to Japan–the government can do that.