Foreign Workers in Japan: Please Close the Door When You Leave



A recent episode of National Public Radio’s All Things Considered discusses Japan’s (mis)treatment of foreign workers; my Japan book co-author, Jean-Pierre Lehmann, is interviewed just after five minutes into the seven minute program. It’s also worth listening for the politician Taro Kono’s candid comments about 3:28 into the interview.  

A recent New York Times article, “Japan Pays Foreign Workers to Go Home, Forever,” provides some further context (the photo by is from a town hall meeting in Hamamatsu; see the photo essay accompanying the article).

As Hidenori Sakanaka, director of the Japan Immigration Policy Institute, is quoted in the New York Times, “It’s a disgrace. It’s cold-hearted … And Japan is kicking itself in the foot … We might be in a recession now, but it’s clear it doesn’t have a future without workers from overseas.”

2 thoughts on “Foreign Workers in Japan: Please Close the Door When You Leave

  1. Is it not that the Japanese tend to be xenophobic (and racist to a certain extent)? This is not to excuse my country’s xenophobia (I am from the U.S.)–just looking at the rabid anti-immigrant comments in response to articles in my local newspaper is a bone-chilling experience. But the U.S. has both officially and unofficially had a strong pro-immigrant policy for a long time. And as schizoid as the policies surrounding immigration in the U.S. often are, I think they reflect the population’s own amorphous and sometimes contradictory feelings about immigrants.

    While Japan seems to have its own love-hate relationship with foreigners, I think the strict immigration laws in Japan more-or-less express the will of the people, do they not?

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