HANDBOOK FOR NEWCOMERS, MIGRANTS AND IMMIGRANTS TO JAPAN, by Arudou Debito and Higuchi Akira, 2008, 376 pp. ¥2,300 (paper)

In this important and necessary book the authors address migrants and immigrants to Japan in saying that "we believe that your life in Japan should be under as much of your control as legally possible." That it sometimes seems not to be, is the reason for their having written this handbook.

One of the reasons that your life can seem not under your control is ignorance — your own. It is this that the "Handbook" remedies by offering needed information — in English and Japanese — on most of the problems encountered by the newcomer.

There is nothing sinister in the fact that this book is necessary in Japan. Something like it is necessary in most countries. Transparency to newcomers is not a fact of life — natives have been known to disregard their own laws, and bureaucracies thrive on the red tape they can produce.