Some responses to Debito Arudou’s March 6 Just Be Cause column, “Japan’s revolving-door immigration policy hard-wired to fail“:

Evidence contradicts claims

Having just watched the news that 38 percent of the Indonesian care assistants passed the test at the most recent examination (with the newly added furigana), and that 11 percent of their nursing compatriots passed that more difficult exam, I find Mr. Arudou’s claim that these systems are designed to keep them out even more difficult to believe than when I first read the article.

Furthermore, an interview with a care home manager revealed that it cost him about ¥8 million extra to support his two foreign staff over three years while only getting about ¥800,000 from the government for taking them in; it looks like he missed the memo on exploiting them.

Finally, Yokohama City helped seven out of eight of the Indonesian care staff in that city get qualified by funding activities such as six months of cram school on test-taking.

While the trainee visa system may be rife with abuse, the evidence above indicates that the Japanese public and private sectors are both serious about importing long-term contributors to our society.

One day, Mr. Arudou himself may need these Indonesians’ children to do the “humiliating unskilled labor” of bathing him. For his own sake, I hope they won’t learn about his sneering view of how their parents came to Japan.

Kawanishi, Hyogo

JET helps cultivate love of Japan

Once again, Mr. Arudou has treated us to his usual blend of thought-provoking observation and sharpened polemic.

However, Mr. Arudou insinuates, without doing the reader the courtesy of offering any kind of evidence or explanation, that the JET Programme is one of a number of “Japan’s working-visa regimes” which are “deliberately designed to discourage” non-Japanese from ever settling in Japan.

While it is true that the majority of JET participants don’t end up spending the rest of their lives in Japan, a significant number do. They find employment after JET here, and continue making contributions to Japanese society in a variety of ways. Also, a considerable number of JET participants forge long-lasting bonds with Japanese people they meet while in Japan and even after leaving the program come back to spend time living in the country at a later date. Many even go on to lead careers related to Japan in some way.

Would Mr. Arudou care to offer some explanation of his comment? Perhaps in a forthcoming article focusing on the JET Programme and its role in Japan?

Coordinator for International Relations (CIR) on the JET Programme (2008-2011),
Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture

More nation-bashing from Debito

Mr. Debito Arudou manages to get it wrong again in his never-ending efforts to tell us how antiforeign the nation that rather generously gave him Japanese nationality is.

Tokyo has now introduced a points system similar to that of Canada and Australia for selecting the top-level foreign businessmen, scientists and IT specialists it says it needs to revitalise the nation. Under such a system it is obvious that high points will go to qualifications and experience, and there will be many fewer points for Japanese language ability. But Mr. Arudou says the lack of emphasis on Japanese shows Tokyo hopes these people will remain unfamiliar with Japan and will want to leave quickly (the revolving door).

So Japan goes to all the trouble of bringing these people to Japan in the hope that they will leave soon? And people whose entire careers have been in business, technology or science are supposed to know Japanese also?

He highlights the problem of Indonesian nurses being sent home if they do not master Japanese within three years. This too is supposed to be yet another Japanese scheme to get rid of people quickly after exploiting them, this time as cheap labor. If Japan really wanted nurses able to master Japanese it should have taken them from the kanji-literate Asian nations, he says. But it was Indonesia, not Tokyo, that wanted the nurses to go to Japan, under its recent the economic partnership agreement with Japan.

As for the kanji-literate Asian nations, they have many other opportunities to send people to Japan. Many come to study, and Tokyo usually is quite happy to let them stay on precisely because they do know Japan and Japanese, and can move immediately into well-paying jobs — yet another point Mr. Arudou ignores in his desperate efforts to show Japan only wants cheap, uneducated labor from these nations also.

In the U.S. today we see how Republican Party candidates rely on outrageous, unfounded accusations in their efforts to drag attention to themselves. Mr. Arudou seems to suffer from the same problem.

Former member of the Justice Ministry Immigration Reform Consultative Group
Isumi, Chiba

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