Naturalize or get out, party tells jobless foreigners


Staff Writer

Foreigners could lose long-term access to social support if the conservative Jisedai no To (Party for Future Generations) has its way.

The party aims to submit bills to the extraordinary Diet session to bar foreigners from receiving state assistance by replacing the current system of cash handouts — handled by municipalities — with perhaps a one-year program of food stamps and other limited aid to help foreigners get through periods of distress.

The party, launched by former Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara, wants to end 60 years of welfare benefits doled out to foreigners, Fumiki Sakurauchi, its policy chief, told The Japan Times last week.

Foreigners usually receive support for living expenses in the form of monthly stipends, including free medical treatment and nursing care.

Sakurauchi said the move was prompted by the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling in July declaring that foreigners are not entitled to benefit from Japan’s welfare program.

“Now that the top court has confirmed that only Japanese citizens are eligible for welfare benefits I think it’s time to create a separate legal system that will work in lieu of the current public assistance law” for those foreigners who need financial aid, he said.

A 1950 law on public assistance technically singles out “citizens” of Japan as legitimate recipients of the benefits in times of financial distress.

In practice, however, foreigners with long-term or permanent residency have been granted the aid based on a 1954 notice by the then-Welfare Ministry that allowed municipalities to decide.

A ministry survey found that 43,479 foreigners’ households were on the welfare register in 2011. Koreans accounted for 66.2 percent of the total, at 28,796 households, followed by Filipinos at 11.2 percent and Chinese at 10.2 percent.

The party’s proposals hold that foreigners in hard times will be entitled to food stamps and other aid, but only for a limited period — most likely a year.

In this period, Sakurauchi said, foreigners “will have a choice — either they leave Japan or become naturalized citizens of Japan. If you want to continue to subsist on our money, I’d say be naturalized.”

The bills in the making, Sakurauchi said, are not targeted at foreigners alone. They are more of an attempt, he said, to overhaul the nation’s welfare benefit system which the party alleges is being abused by “not a small number” of recipients, both Japanese and foreign.

Citing reports that recipients are sometimes spotted gambling away their handouts, Sakurauchi said the party will also propose that benefit recipients, both Japanese and foreign, get aid mostly in the form of vouchers and food stamps, as in the United States, or even in kind.

It will also call for a halt to the free medical services, asking recipients to cover some of the expense — about 10 percent or so.

External auditors will also be authorized to scrutinize recipients’ bank accounts to make sure they are not hoarding savings.

“The bills aren’t about ‘tightening up’ ” the poor, said the lawmaker, “they’re more about making the system more legitimate.”

Sakurauchi also emphasized that the party has no intention of “bullying foreigners.” He acknowledged there are certain rights foreigners should enjoy equally with Japanese citizens, such as freedom of speech and religion.

Still, he said, some aid is given to foreigners at government discretion and is contingent on the state’s financial health. Welfare is one such example.

“That’s the underlying reason why the current law limits legal recipients of welfare benefits to citizens of Japan,” he said

Since Jisedai no To only holds 19 seats in the Lower House, at least two short of that needed to submit legislation, it will seek nonpartisan support to get the bills into the system, said party member Makoto Tomoyuki.

  • J.P. Bunny

    Welcome to Japan. Please come here, work hard, pay taxes, fall on hard times, and go away.

  • Barry Rosenfeld

    Actually this message is rather positive if you think about it JP; this party actually advocates naturalisation, something that I have never heard uttered by any Japanese political party since 1952! So, despite the brickbats, there is a silverlining after all!

    • zer0_0zor0

      Yeah, it’s just possible that as outsiders, these people might be able to shake up the utterly corrupt and nepotistic political establishment if they truly act in the public’s interest.

      Naturalization does not necessarily seem like an unreasonable condition, but I’m confident that others will opine on that.

    • Edward J. Cunningham

      I have a feeling that although the JNT pays lips service to getting foreigners to naturalize, they’ll actually put more roadblacks in the naturalization process to encourage foreigners to do what they really want, which is to leave.

    • Dipak Bose

      It is near impossible for anyone to get Japanese citizenship in the same way it is near impossible to get a Japanese driving license or to use an international driving license in Japan. There are too many rules which are logically contradictory and impossible to fulfill.

    • Dipak Bose

      How many non-Chinese foreigners can pass Japanese language test at grade 3 levels?

    • Shiki Byakko

      The ultra right has always said that you should naturalize, because they want the Korean people to renounce their nationality.

      Also, it is actually easier to naturalize than become a permanent resident.

  • tommy92

    Sounds fair to me ….. a years worth of social assistance seems generous really. He hasn’t suggested no assistance and immediate expulsion from the country.

    Fall on hard times and receive help for up to a year. I think you would find support for a similar plan in other countries. It would also affect very few people, few foreigners are on welfare for over year.

    The article doesn’t say if foreigners would still be eligible for unemployment insurance. So I assume that is in another category of assistance????

  • itoshima2012

    Why is everybody getting always so upset/excited about these type of news. The Party for Future Generations is a joke, 19 out 0f 480 Shugiin, 4 out of 242 in Sangin, a total fringe party, like the Tea Party, much much smaller than Front National, come on Japan Times, give as real news, not just headlines…..

  • Scrote

    If you are unemployed they will refuse to allow you to naturalise.

  • http://chinasucks.tv/ China Sucks TV™

    How can I cast my vote for fomer Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara? I live in NYC. I think his idea is great. If only we can do the same here in the states. All these damn illegals are taking over my country. GO Gov.

  • Crusader00

    Keep Japan Japanese. All gaijin out; no ‘naturalization’! As an otaku, no need to turn the Land of the Rising Sun into a fetid Turd World hell like Detroit.

    This is why I hate cultural Marxist organs like the Japan Times which act as gatekeepers for the news from Nippon.

  • Roger London

    Do you hope Japan is encouraging other countries to stop providing any Japanese people getting child benefits or welfare or similar assistance in any other countries Mr Politician?
    I must admit though; a RECIPROCAL agreement seems the way forward.

  • PettyJapanTimesMods

    The statistics prove that Japan has only around a 5% proportion of foreigners on welfare compared to the UK. So, does Japan have a 95% smaller economy than the UK?

    Quote the UK Telegraph newspapers;- “Number of foreign nationals on benefits soars to 400,000
    The number of foreign nationals claiming benefits such as Jobseeker’s Allowance has jumped by 40 per cent in just four years to more than 400,000, new government figures have disclosed.” ………………………..where that conservative number is funded by an indigenous population that is half that of Japan (similar land area).

  • Eagle

    Yes, the good olde recipe. Don’t care about social discrepancies, just make a new law. Control and solve problems with laws.

    “Sakurauchi also emphasized that the party has no intention of “bullying foreigners.”
    He shouldn’t have told this. We all know that their bullying is always unintentional.

  • Ask1Korean1

    Island mentality!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • FunkyB

    The government should do away with the Special Permanent Resident designation and it’s associated exemptions (grandfather-clause some people if need be). It is aggravating the problem at public expense by encouraging people to take government handouts and pay less in taxes. If someone has a legitimate disability or is owed damages by the government, let them claim benefits specifically on the merits of their case.

    Instead of SPR, they should allow for dual citizenship. That would appeal more to the type of expats/immigrants who would contribute more to Japan: working professionals and their families.

  • iuyyyyui

    Even naturalization is not enough: assimilation should be expected, required, and demanded. Or else Japan will go down its own version of the path the U.S. is on: only a decade or so from becoming … the United States of Mexico. Half the over-the-air T.V. channels in (U.S.) urban cities are Spanish-language; ditto A.M. radio stations … with F.M. not far behind (maybe around 25%). Spanish will soon enough be the primary day-to-day language in the urban centers, even if it will take longer for a Canadian-style “officially bilingual” law to be passed. But in probably 20 years, the U.S. will, like Canada has with French, have all kinds of “officially bilingual” laws mandating that Spanish be a co-equal language in the courts, government offices, etc.

    As for “work hard, pay taxes, go home” … don’t like it? DON’T COME TO JAPAN IN THE FIRST PLACE THEN.



    Maybe best of all, try North Korea. They need to supplement their starving laborers who are eating grass with fat, well-fed foreigners. Don’t want to perform forced chain-gang labor for Kim Jong-Un? Well then, you can always be his # 1 Cyber-Hacker, too, if that suits you better.