Abe missing the mark on solving labor shortage

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is in a pinch. In the face of a declining population and the ever-growing lack of eligible workers, it seems only natural that immigration law reform would be on his to-do list.

Recently, a plan was introduced to reduce the period of time in which skilled foreigners may apply for permanent residence. That’s all well and good. His latest plan, though, isn’t quite what I expected. (But considering his vehement nationalism, I shouldn’t have been surprised.) I’m all for giving nikkei great-grandchildren the same visa rights as those who came before them. However, Abe’s sudden change of heart isn’t as gracious as it seems. The article “Abe mulls visa perks for younger ‘nikkei’” in the Feb. 2 edition quotes a Diet member as saying “… given that (they) also have Japanese blood running through them …” which just sounds like a somewhat racist excuse to allow them into the country more easily.

But before tackling the issue of nikkei, there’s an even bigger problem. If Abe is so desperate for workers, maybe he should focus on reforming the at-times abusive technical intern training program system that allows companies to overwork unskilled foreigners with no promise of a future in Japan. The system is not only abusive, it doesn’t solve the workforce problem at all — it only staves it off temporarily.

MEAGAN FINLAY
NISHINOMIYA, HYOGO PREFECTURE

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.