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What steps should we take to assist the integration of Japan’s foreign population?

by Melanie Burton

Yukiko Takahashi
Teacher, 31
Ward offices do organize language lessons, but they need to advertise it more. If foreigners can speak the language better, it will be better for communication. Foreigners need to learn the culture more to be accepted.

Brett Younger
Teacher, 27
I think they do a pretty good job already. I wanted to come here on my own, not with a conversation school. A guide on how to settle in Japan, like how to pay bills etc. would be useful — more explanation of the legal side of things.

Cliodhna Butler
Teacher, 26
Mixed foreign kids entering the public school system would help. Also, visa laws need to be looked at. Long-term residents shouldn’t have to get re-entry permits and pay every time. They should be treated more like citizens.

Anna Clare
27
Definitely ease up on the visa laws. The laws are as transparent as milk. Socially, the “them and us” philosophy contributes to it. You can never be accepted as part of society. It all comes down to Japan deciding to be multicultural.

Greg Tieder
Consultant, 37
I noticed a change after our children were born here. People were much more happy to approach us. My wife is American, not Japanese, but the children made adults more approachable and got to know local kids.

Akemi Abo
Office worker, 32
I’m from Aomori, and in Aomori when we see foreigners, because they have been rare, it’s a bit surprising. There’s not a bad feeling about it, but Japanese are shy, so to talk to foreigners without knowing their language is embarrassing.