Shiga governor backs antidiscrimination law

by Eric Johnston

OSAKA — Shiga Gov. Yukiko Kada said Wednesday she generally supports the creation of a national law to ban racial discrimination.

“Yes, at first glance, I support such a law,” Kada said. “But Shiga Prefecture still needs more hard data on the condition of foreign residents before deciding what policies to support.”

In May, nearly 80 human rights groups around Japan, and the United Nations, urged the country to enact legislation to guarantee the rights of foreigners and to show people thinking of moving here that the government will protect their legal rights.

However, many people in the central government and business who are pushing for more foreign labor oppose legislating against discrimination. Some say it would be better to change the attitude of society to be more tolerant of foreigners.

Speaking at the Kansai Press Club, Kada, who last month became the nation’s fifth female governor, said her prefecture is lagging behind others in integrating non-Japanese, especially foreign laborers, into the community.

Shiga has about 30,000 foreigners, including about 14,000 Japanese-Brazilians. In the Kansai region, it has the largest ratio of foreign residents who have moved there in the last two decades to Japanese.

Many of them came to work in auto-parts factories.

“Compared with Gunma and Shizuoka prefectures, which also have large populations of Japanese-Brazilians, the debates and policy measures for integrating foreigners into the community have not advanced very far in Shiga,” she said.