of the Research Committee on
"Towards Multi-cultural Society"
Despite the growing number of foreigners settled in Japan, Japan as a nation has not had a thorough discussion on how to accept foreign workers in its society. The governmental policies on this issue are obscure. Especially lacking is the viewpoint of accepting foreigners based on the long term prospect of demographic trend and industrial structural change.
Contrary to the previous projection that unskilled Japanese descendents introduced to Japanese labor market as low wage labor force would return to their home countries after a certain years of stay and work in Japan, and new workers from their country would take their places (i.e. rotating), these workers tend to reenter Japan in the face of severe employment situation in the home country. They even try to bring their families into Japan, and seek settlement. However, as Japan’s employment situation has been deteriorating, many of them are placed in economically and socially inferior situation. As their children’s education cost is beyond their affordability, their children have higher drop-out rates and fast becoming the reserve force for delinquency. In some regions, their presence has already raised social cost burden significantly.
Since the Japanese society is expected to experience drastic decrease in child-bearing population following the rapid decline in birthrate. Some even points out that to maintain industrial competitiveness in Japan, it may be necessary to accept about half a million foreign labor force annually. In accordance with the Fujimasa model, which defines demographic change by birthrate and mobility, the short term acceptance of foreign labor force will hardly have any effects on the overall population increase, making it steadily decrease until 2030. As in the case of Germany, the economic effects of accepting foreigners would be the increase in contribution to the annuity system by the current laborers’generation, which would be far less than to offset the costs of education and other social burden for their next generation, making the net balance of economic effects negative.
In eyeing the possibility of free migration of foreign labor force from Eastern Europe as the EU expands east-ward, Germany has newly introduced a measure to prohibit foreigners’migration, although it faces rapid population decrease. The Netherlands also changed their policy to limit migration in concern of cultural frictions.
As a Japanese neighbor, China, continues its economic growth with about 10 million new labor force supplied annually, a key issue is how Japan is to build a complimentary relationship with China in terms of industrial structures.
On the other hand, the Japanese Government plans to actively promote attracting highly skilled workers to Japan. In response, India has developed a project of training CAD and CAB engineers with proficiency in Japanese. The plan is to establish a business model, in which the trained engineers are to be dispatched to Japan to experience Japanese businesses for five years, then return to India and start a business of receiving orders from Japan. Such a business model will benefit not only the individuals who are to start the businesses, but also the Japanese companies which can expand their networks of business partners. How this project will develop in the future will worth noting.