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 And you thought OUR politics were confusing?

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Join date : 2009-04-22
Posts : 240
Location : Piedmont NC

PostSubject: And you thought OUR politics were confusing?   Thu May 14, 2009 2:39 pm

American politics may not be all that different from the rest of the world!
Take a look at these two conflicting policies from Japan! (Note the dates of the articles)

Japan opens its doors to immigrants

Country on the brink of economic disaster amid labour crisis

Isabel Reynolds, Reuters Published: Thursday, August 14, 2008

TOKYO -- Yanti Kartina, a nurse from Jakarta, left her family in Indonesia and joined 200 other nurses in moving to Japan where there is a desperate need for care givers in old age homes and hospitals.

The nurses, who are expected to learn Japanese and requalify as they work, are seen as an important test case for Japan as it struggles with the world's fastest growing elderly population and a shrinking workforce that could devastate its economy. "Japan is the first developed country to face this kind of population crisis," said Hidenori Sakanaka, a former immigration bureau chief in the capital of Tokyo who now heads a think-tank.

With more than a quarter of its population to be 65 and older by 2015, Japan faces serious economic consequences, including labour shortages that could weigh on its gross domestic product.

A group of ruling party politicians presented Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda with a radical proposal to have immigrants make up 10% of the population in 50 years. Government figures show the workforce is on course to shrink by eight million in the next 10 years. If the necessary laws are passed, mass immigration could transform a country once so wary of foreigners it excluded them almost entirely for more than 200 years until the 19th century.

"I don't think there is any way forward but to accept immigrants," Mr. Sakanaka said.

Even now, the idea of allowing in more foreigners is often described as a risk to Japan's relatively crime-free and homogeneous society. Many landlords refuse to rent apartments to foreigners and few Japanese employers offer immigrant workers the same rights as their Japanese colleagues. Less than 2% of Japan's almost 128 million population are foreign-born.

Tetsufumi Yamakawa, chief economist at Goldman Sachs in Tokyo, contends immigration, combined with efforts to draw more women and elderly into the labour market, could lift growth above the 1% a year forecast by analysts. "I think this is very good timing to start thinking about this," he said. "The decline is in sight."

The Indonesian nurses, who have been recruited to work in short-staffed hospitals and old peoples' homes, are the latest wave of controlled immigration. Government officials hope they will face fewer problems than their predecessors.

More than 300,000 Brazilians of Japanese descent have been a boon for Japan's automotive and electronics factories. They have also boosted Brazil's economy, remitting US$2.2-billion home in 2005, according to the Inter-American Development Bank. But in many ways they failed to fit in despite being descendants of Japanese who left rural areas to start afresh in Latin America in the early 20th century.

They complain of discrimination and lack of schooling for their children, many of whom speak only Portuguese, while their Japanese neighbours are often shocked by late-night parties and failure to conform to rules such as trash recycling.

"They were just brought in and nothing was done to help them in terms of welfare afterwards," said Hirohiko Nakamura, a member of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party.

"Then people blame the foreigners for the problems, even though it's Japan that invited them here and didn't do anything for them," he said.

Many say that despite the desperate need for workers, Japan is setting the requirements too high. The Indonesian nurses and care workers will have only six months of Japanese study before starting full-time work. They must pass the relevant national examinations within four years while working as assistants, or be sent home.

Mr. Nakamura is optimistic about their chances, citing the example of some of the country's highest profile immigrants. "Look at the Mongolian sumo wrestlers! They speak Japanese really well," he said. But Mr. Sakanaka worries the nursing program will end in failure because of the complexity of the Japanese language and because the rules are too strict. "I think the system will turn out to be an embarrassment," he said. "Almost nobody will pass and they will be told to go home."

He advocates inviting younger foreigners and allowing them to complete Japanese training before starting work. On a broader basis, he and others say, opposition to immigration in Japan is less widespread than allegations of discrimination and exclusion would suggest.

"Certainly it is going to take time for Japan to be more accepting," Mr. Yamakawa says. "But I do not believe in the superficial argument that Japan has had a homogeneous population for so long it cannot accept anyone from outside."

followed late this April by:

The Japanese solution to immigration: pay ‘em to go home
April 23, 4:42 PM

While the United States government drags its feet, overlooks ‘sanctuary cities’ and refuses to enforce the nation’s immigration laws, Japan is now offering cash as an incentive for foreign workers to leave the country.

Under the just introduced program, Latin American guest workers (mostly of Brazilian descent) – particularly those who are currently unemployed – are being offered $3,000 each and $2,000 per dependent to return to their respective homeland.

But unlike a similar plan implemented by the government of Spain – which allows those guest workers who were paid to leave to return in three years – the Japanese program is accepted with the stipulation that the departing worker may never return. Ever. And neither can their children.

“It’s a disgrace. It’s cold-hearted,” Hidenori Sakanaka, director of the Japan Immigration Policy Institute, told the New York Times. “We might be in a recession now, but it’s clear it [the Japanese economy] doesn’t have a future without workers from overseas.”

Japan, like most economies around the globe, has been slammed by the recent financial meltdown. Unemployment stands at 4.4% (a three-year high) and the country’s manufacturing sector just reached its lowest level of production in 25 years. Export numbers are off more than 45 percent from the same period in 2008.

The story of Japan’s Latin American guest workers began more than a century ago when Japanese citizens – mostly from rural areas that were thrust into poverty by the ending of the empire’s age of Feudalism - emigrated to South America in search of work and better living conditions.

More than 700 such farmers arrived in Brazil in 1908 and settled in the coffee-growing areas south of Sao Paulo. Nearly 15,000 more Japanese immigrants arrived in the next seven years, and between the beginning of World War I and 1940 the number had reached 165,000. More than 1.4 million people of Japanese descent currently live in South America.

The Asian immigrants carved out a living on the coffee plantations and filled a void in Brazil’s labor force.

It was a shortage of workers – in 1990 – that forced Japan to revisit their trans-Pacific lineage and begin issuing special work visas for Brazilians of Japanese ancestry.

Officials estimate between 320,000 – 350,000 Japanese-Brazilians now live in Japan, with most having settled in industrial towns such as Hamamatsu. And many were employed in positions related to the Japanese auto industry – which, thanks to the downturn in the economy, are now laying-off thousands of full and part time employees.

Now, faced with no jobs and little opportunity, a number of Japanese-Brazilians are accepting the ‘buy-out.’

Most critics of the plan point to the Spanish model, and are urging the government to reconsider letting those who accept the incentive to eventually return.

Japanese officials told The New York Times that at least 100 workers and families have already agreed to leave.
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