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Aichi’s denizens warm to foreigners

Chunichi Shimbun

Most Aichi residents like the idea of having many foreign residents living among them, according to a prefectural survey.

Last fall, the prefectural government asked residents serving as designated opinion monitors to fill out a questionnaire on how they feel about non-Japanese. The survey drew a response from 488 people, 98 percent of the monitors.

Some 54 percent of the respondents agreed with the sentiment that having foreigners around “gives them more opportunities to learn foreign languages and cultures.” On the other hand, 38 percent have a negative stance on non-Japanese neighbors on the grounds they could degrade local security.

In the previous survey in 2010, negative replies outnumbered positive ones.

Many of the foreigners living in Aichi Prefecture are employed by the auto industry. As of the end of 2010, the prefecture had a foreign population of 205,000, third-largest in the country.

By nationality, Brazilians made up the biggest portion, at 59,000 people, followed by Chinese at 47,000, South and North Koreans at 40,000 and Filipinos at 26,000.

Among the survey respondents who favored having a lot of foreigners in Aichi, 42 percent said “they can meet and socialize with non-Japanese in local communities,” while 40 percent said “it helps the local economy maintain its growth,” eclipsing most of the negative views.

Of the positive responses in the previous survey, 38 percent said they were glad to have more chances to learn new languages and cultures, but on the negative side, 45 percent cited fears over safety.

This time, asked whether they would be willing to get involved in helping create a society in which foreigners can take active roles, 70 percent said yes, up 4 percentage points from 2010.

Starting in 2006, Aichi has been working on numerous projects to help foreigners, including providing Japanese classes, disseminating information on garbage disposal manners, and inviting them to local events and festivals.

“With the increased communication with Japanese people who teach rules and customs to foreigners, the number of problems, such as illegal parking or waste dumping, have been on the decline, and that seems to be one of the main reasons behind the improved image of foreign residents”, said an official from Multicultural Society Section of the Aichi Prefectural Government.

This section, appearing Saturdays, features topics and issues from the Chubu region covered by the Chunichi Shimbun. The original article was published Jan. 19.