Poll: 81% welcome foreigners of Japanese descent


More than 80 percent of respondents in a new poll said they are open to foreign nationals of Japanese descent living in the nation, the Cabinet Office reported.

The office’s first survey of its kind, released Thursday, found 80.9 percent of respondents expressed openness to living alongside those with Japanese ancestry, including Brazilian and Peruvian descendents of Japanese immigrants. Only 12.9 percent opposed the idea.

Of the 3,000 citizens canvassed in January for the poll, 59.7 percent were also in favor of the central government and municipalities assisting non-Japanese residents to a greater extent, for instance by providing Japanese-language classes for unemployed young people and recruiting interpreters at Hello Work job-placement offices.

“With more opportunities to interact with foreigners, (Japanese people) are eventually no longer rejecting” the idea of accepting non-Japanese nationals in society, a Cabinet Office official remarked.

As of the end of 2011, there were fewer than 300,000 foreigners of Japanese descent living in the country, of whom 210,000 were Brazilians and another 50,000 Peruvians, the Cabinet Office said.

  • WithMalice

    The poignant question not being asked: how about foreigners of NON-Japanese descent?

    • Christopher-trier

      Japanese society is infamously closed and rigid. One does not become Japanese, one either is or one is not Japanese. Korea and China are much the same. It has been that way for centuries and it is unlikely to change. At least they’re honest about it. Semi-closed societies such as France, Germany, and Denmark also do not easily accept members from outside groups. They might be tolerated as individuals but they will never be part of the group. This considered it might not be prudent to have large-scale immigration to Japan. If more open societies cannot easily integrate foreigners, how can Japan?

      It’s a very Western failure to not accept what is and instead either demand the fulfilment of an impossible dream or react with snark and sarcasm to unideal situations.

      • azooisaprison4animals

        Not too long ago, Bruce Lee (if you don’t know who he is, look him up) faced the same opposition when trying to make a living in the land of his birth. He opened a lot of doors for those that followed.

        Change happens slowly. Old attitudes linger. But Japan is changing, and will be more accepting of non-Japanese in the future.

  • ChrisM

    Foreigners of Japanese descent are technically (and more than that) Japanese. And, not surprisingly, they are discriminated when in Japan. Xenophobia should have no place in the aging stubborn society of Japan, but unfortunately it does.

  • Wow! such open-mindedness I have never seen! Imagine a similar poll in a country mostly populated with folks of white European descent that found that 80% percent of them were willing to live with immigrants of white European descent! Wouldn’t that be something amazing?

    • Christopher-trier

      Ugh. What is this “white European” nonsense? The same problems exist in Denmark, the UK, etcetera where there is a great deal of concern with the number of Eastern Europeans moving into the countries. There is also great concern about what will happen after Romania and Bulgaria no longer face restrictions on emigration. “White European” is no more misleading than saying East Asian. It means little more than a geographic region.

  • Earl Kinmonth

    Foreigners in Japan under the “Japanese ancestry” category do not necessarily have any such ancestry. Aside from those who have fake documentation, the category includes the dependents of those who have some claim (real or fictive). Even with real ancestry, it need only be one grandparent. (Using this criteria, I am English twice over.) Unless all this was explained as part of the survey, the responses are proably without any real meaning. A European married to a Brazilian with one Japanese grandparent could be in Japan under the legal category “foreigners of Japanese descent.”

    • azooisaprison4animals

      The poll asked about JAPANESE ‘foreigners’ – this is not a legal issue. They meant full-blood Japanese who grew up outside of Japan, but racially were still “pure” – get it? They did not ask people about the intricacies of the “foreign ancestry” qualifications.

      • Earl Kinmonth

        Have you read the survey? It is available on line at http://www8.cao.go.jp/survey/tokubetu/h24/h24-nikkei.pdf#search=%27%E5%86%85%E9%96%A3%E5%BA%9C+%E6%97%A5%E7%B3%BB%E4%BA%BA%27. The term used by the survey is 日系定住外国人. This is a legal category, not a “racial” category. Because of a high level of “out marriage” very few 日系定住外国人 have “pure” Japanese ancestry. Get it? Moreover, data presented in the survey indicates that very few respondents actually have had any contact with 日系定住外国人. Opinions appear to be largely derived from television appearances made by a small number of 日系定住外国人 “tarento” types. Get it?

  • Christopher-trier

    This is not entirely new. Greece, Italy, Spain, and Ireland make it relatively easy for members of their diasporas to “return”. Italy has been growing more relaxed as it faces its own ageing crisis. Will it work? It might be difficult. ethnic-Japanese in Brazil and Peru grew up in a very different culture, many if not most do not speak Japanese. Even if they do their Japanese often lacks the nuances that are expected of native speakers often resulting in unpleasant situations.

  • Hafubreed

    Unsurprising. I’m a “hafu” or half Japanese, half foreign resident who has lived in Tokyo the last 8 years. The racism is very well hidden, and sometimes unintentional, but it’s always there…

    • rogerthat1945

      I don`t mind the small amount of racism, which I barely see, I have lived here for five years in middle Japan and nobody really bothers us.

      I wish my own country was as sensible as Japan in regards to mass immigration.

      In case you were wondering, I only agree with immigration via marriage and a 3% limit per generation, as being the least offensive and the most practical.

      Some people fail to realise that only an acceptable level of integration in an international world will be able to stop (for instance) extinction events (via international team efforts); and uber-nationalists will never know enough to make sense of that.

      Japan times have flagged me for comment awaiting moderation.

  • Kunta Biddinika

    Then we’ll see the extinction of Japanese becoming sooner than previously predicted … @katakatakunta

  • Andrew Engwirda

    Although I won’t deny it exists, I’d say that 99% of “racism” is paranoia on the part of foreigners who can’t or won’t fit in. I enjoy my life here and I’m always thankful for the kindness shown to me by the Japanese people.

    Suck it up weaklings.

  • Antisthenes’ Razor

    So what? As Japan ages and its economy dies a death even more sad than these two ‘lost decade’s since the Bubble, who’s going to immigrate here when they could as easily go elsewhere that pays better, accepts them better, and uses a non-ideographic script? Good luck with your plan, Japan.

  • Japan has either solved or avoided social problems the US and much of Europe has been unable to resolve for decades: unsafe streets, poor public schools, inner city decline, high unemployment, chronic poverty, gangs, hard drugs, etc. I am not saying large scale immigration would create all these problems, but I have to wonder.

  • Nicholas Hideki Koga

    I’m a Brazilian of Japanese descent. There are two facts:
    First, there’s a lot of prejudice against Brazilian in Japan, having japanese descent or not. No matter what you do, you’ll be always marked as Brazilian, not Japanese. That’s a sad point, because I know too many Brazilians here that are more patriotic with Japan than a real Japanese, that likes USA too much.
    The other side, though, is that many Brazilian don’t try to fit Japanese style of living. They think that Japan is Brazil, don’t make effort to learn Japanese, don’t respect the country culture and stay with others Brazilians, many times doing mess. After they did many things that Japaneses don’t like, they say that they’re suffering prejudice. It’s very easy to say “I’m suffering prejudice!”. About doing things to fit the country’s culture, they don’t care.