/ Perspective

Unshaken Japan

While the guilt-ridden West takes in refugees from all over the Third World and wrestles with cultural assimilation issues, internal conflict and the development of cultural enclaves, Japan continues to defy pressure from the international community to open the floodgates to mass immigration.

Granted, in the last decade there has been a uptick in legal immigration to Japan, as its shrinking native population contributes to a draining workforce. However, this immigration is highly regulated and specific. Most of the immigrants in Japan are there on specific work visas that are limited in time and scope. What Japan has done instead of bringing in a huge influx of immigrant workers is attempting to employ women and elderly in various job sectors that are in need before they fill those vacancies with foreign workers.

Additionally, the notion that a shrinking workforce is a negative thing is not necessarily bad at all. With the advent of artificial intelligence and robotics, many companies and businesses would rather utilize AI as opposed to have to deal with bringing in unskilled, uneducated foreign labor for tertiary sector employment. Artificial intelligence will likely replace most, if not all jobs in this sector by mid to late century. This will lead to a more selective process of hiring as well as higher education or trade school certification becoming a necessity for most jobs. The result will be a smaller, skilled and educated work force that has higher wages. All of this points to a net positive for societal harmony. The continued notion that a civilization needs more working bodies for economic growth is nothing more than a fallacy. This is something that most Japanese have come to recognize but may not openly express.

According to the CIA World Factbook, Japan’s population is 98.5 percent ethnically Japanese. The remaining 1.5 percent is comprised of 0.4 percent Chinese 0.5 percent Korean and 0.6 percent other. In the case of the religious identity of Japan, 91.4 percent of the population practice Shintoism (the ethnic religion of the Japanese people), Buddhism or a combination of both, while 1.5 percent is Christian and 7.1 percent practice other religions. Across the nation, the Japanese language is almost entirely universal with very few people having the ability to speak foreign languages. All of this is clear evidence that Japan is a religiously, culturally, ethnically and linguistically homogeneous society with very few minorities in comparison to other nations across the globe. This means a few things in the case of Japan’s societal stability and harmony.

As a result of Japan’s relative homogeneity, there aren’t racial, religious, cultural or linguistic tensions between neighboring communities. Crime rates are extremely low and Japan’s homicide rate is ranked among lowest in the world. This is testimony to the Japanese people’s shared belief of societal harmony that stems from the Shinto religion. That’s not to say Japan is not without its problems but the race, religious and cultural issues that are occurring in the West are practically nonexistent here.

Japan’s refugee policy in comparison to a nation like Germany or Sweden for example, is night and day. Over 99 percent of refugee applications to Japan are rejected. In 2017 alone, there were 19,628 refugee applications and of those only 20 were accepted. The common mindset on the refugee issue in Japan is that one must care for their own people before they take in others. During the height of the Syrian refugee crisis in 2015 Japan was under intense scrutiny from the international community for its refusal to take in refugees to the level of Western nations. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe responded to that criticism by stating “I would say that before accepting immigrants or refugees, we need to have more activities by women, elderly people and we must raise our birth rate. There are many things that we should do before accepting immigrants.”

This January, the Ministry of Justice further tightened their already restrictive refugee policy as the vast majority of people that applied for refugee status were coming from nations that did not face a situation causing a massive number of refugees or misplaced persons. The top nations include: the Philippines, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Nepal, none of which are facing a humanitarian crisis that would qualify one to be a legitimate refugee. The Government of Japan sees these individuals as abusing the system and have begun to round up and deport asylum seekers who were working illegally. While Japan takes in very few refugees, the nation sends a huge amount of its GDP to foreign aid projects that assist third world nations with development and infrastructure projects as an alternative.

One thing we must remember when analyzing Japan’s political landscape on the topic of immigration is that most Japanese are fairly averse to the idea, as reflected by the decades old strength of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s conservative Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). The average Japanese citizen is aware of their nation’s relative peace and harmonious society is due to its homogeneity and is skeptical of letting in large groups of people from foreign countries that might jeopardize that. That being said, there are some loud voices among the political left, business elite and even some LDP politicians (such as Foreign Minister Taro Kono) that have advocated for increased immigration, albeit for different reasons.

The political left in Japan has always been disjointed, disparate and unable to put form a convincing platform to get elected. In fact since 1955, the LDP has had an uninterrupted majority in the Japanese Diet (Parliament) with the exception of two time periods: 1993-1994 and 2009-2012. Because of this, leftist globalist policies have never had the ability to take root in Japan. Even among the Japanese left-wing parties there is an adversity towards globalism and immigration. The Japanese Communist Party (JCP) which has less than twenty seats in both houses of the Diet (12 in the House of Representatives and 14 in the House of Councilors as of 2018) doesn’t have a clear stance on immigration. However, they along with the even smaller Social Democratic Party have advocated for pacifist, anti-imperial family, anti-patriotic, cultural Marxist, feminist and pro-LGBT policies.

These self-destructive policies, if allowed to become mainstream will undoubtedly lead to increased calls for more cultural diversity. Additionally, liberal and left-leaning professors dominate academia (at least in the social sciences) and media outlets and are often influenced by Western academics and trends. The influence of these political parties, academics and media outlets have had small but nonetheless concerning effect on the cultural trends of Japan. A small, but growing voice are advocating for Japan to be an “open” and “global” society.

Despite their continued attempts, these groups have not been able to change the heavily entrenched traditions of Japan. While the nation has made some concessions to “global trends” such as the establishment of the Gender Equality Bureau in 1999 to advocate for women’s rights as well as a handful of jurisdictions allowing for same sex civil unions, these socially liberal policies have had a marginal effect to society at large.

One key factor that distinguishes Japan from other nations in regard to national identity is the concept of citizenship. In the West, if a foreigner obtains citizenship they are automatically considered a member of that society, even if they are a Sunni Muslim Iraqi living in Sweden. In Japan, the citizenship process is extremely rigorous, all the required documentation being exclusively in Japanese and can take years for the process to be approved. Japan also does not allow for dual citizenship. One example of how strict the naturalization process is the case of the Zainichi, or Japanese Koreans. Even third and fourth generation Koreans living in Japan are not considered Japanese and, in most cases, do not have the right to vote or have equal rights. Instead, they have what is called Special Permanent Resident Status. This is despite the fact that many have a Japanese name, the ability to only speak Japanese and have never been to Korea. The key to all this is that one’s heritage must be Japanese in order to truly be considered Japanese.

This concept is known as Minzoku (民族), which makes no distinction between racial, ethnic and national identities. Even the Japanese Census and Statistics Bureau do not distinguish race and ethnicity. In 2005, Finance Minister Taro Aso stated that Japan was “one nation, one civilization, one language, one culture and one race. There is no other nation (that has such characteristics).” This statement epitomizes the identitarian view that is key to the preservation of the Japanese identity and remains the norm to this day, even if your average citizen were to deny it.

What we have seen with Japan is a logical, pragmatic and sensible policy on immigration and refugee policy. The government and people of Japan are aware (even if subconsciously) of the ramifications of having a multicultural society and have maintained a continued vigilance against calls to embrace “diversity” and an “open society.” Hopefully, Japan will continue to uphold that vigilance and learn from the cultural and societal suicide that many Western nations are committing.

Ian R. Henderson

Ian R. Henderson

Ian graduated cum laude from the University of California, Los Angeles with a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science.

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Unshaken Japan
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