More than a ‘few’ foreigners split

Kobe

The May 6 editorial “‘Flyjin’ rather few” states that “The survey …did not determine exactly how many of those 25 percent eventually returned to Tokyo” after the 3/11 disasters. But it should be patently obvious how many did — all of them!

The survey was conducted in Tokyo by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, and covered 169 foreigners living in Tokyo at the time the survey was conducted. Of those 169, 25 percent temporarily left following 3/11. What the survey did not determine was exactly how many foreigners left Tokyo in the aftermath of 3/11 and had not returned as of the date of the survey.

Ministry of Justice statistics shed a clearer light on the situation. The file available (www.moj.go.jp/content/000073059.pdf) shows that in the week leading up to 3/11, about 140,000 foreigners left (about 29,000 of whom held re-entry permits — in other words, residents not tourists) and about 157,000 foreigners entered (about 30,000 of whom were residents). This is roughly similar to the numbers from previous years for a similar period, so it is reasonable to assume in a “normal” week in March that about 30,000 foreign residents leave Japan and a similar number re-enter.

From the week starting March 12, almost 245,000 foreigners left, of whom almost half (121,000) were residents. For the week beginning March 19, the exodus continued with a full 71.5 percent, or almost 107,000, of the departures that week being residents. Meanwhile, the number of foreigners entering Japan fell dramatically in the two weeks right after 3/11, including residents with re-entry permits who returned in slightly smaller numbers than the “norm” — 21,000 the first week and 29,000 the next.

Overall from March 12 to April 8, 2011, 302,490 foreign residents left Japan (more than 250 percent of “normal” departures for a similar period), while 170,124 foreign residents returned, including 120,507 in a huge spike the last week of March and the first week of April. This spike can only be attributed to the return of a large number of foreign residents who, having fled during the previous two weeks, realized that their departure had been unnecessary.

More pre-3/11 foreign residents returned in subsequent months, but there can be little disputing the fact that more than 180,000 foreign residents left Japan immediately after 3/11. That number is almost 10 percent of the total number of foreign residents in Japan — rather more than “rather few.”

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

james gray