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Is it easy for foreigners to integrate into Japanese society?

by Jenny Uechi

T. Mutoh
Dentist, 49
I think it’s easy; there’s not much prejudice here. When you consider some places, where people of certain backgrounds won’t even eat dinner together, Japan is almost like heaven, right?

Swantje Wuebbenhorst
Student, 23 (German)
I think it depends where you are. I went to high school in Akita, and it was very easy for me to integrate there. In Tokyo it’s harder: People are friendly, but also harder to get to know well.

Temma Abe
Economics student, 20
It’s quite difficult. There are families with half-Filipino kids that can’t live here due to nationality issues, but there’s a gradual movement to reach out to foreigners, especially among the youth.

Gerard Robb
Student, 31 (Aussie)
I think it’s easy to integrate, if you make an effort to learn the language. Many foreigners live here for years, but if you can’t speak the language, then you’re not really integrated.

Yuzuki Abe
Student, 18
It’s a very easy place for foreigners to live, comparatively. But for long-termers, Tokyo is probably best. There are more people to talk to, and small towns tend to be distrustful of outsiders.

Tomomi Tsuchida
Freelance writer, 22
It depends on how you came to Japan. It’s very difficult for refugees — our policy toward refugees is dismal, and we hardly accept anybody who tries to come and applies for refugee status.