Naturalize or get out, party tells jobless foreigners


Staff Writer

Foreigners could lose long-term access to social support if the conservative Jisedai no To (Party for Future Generations) has its way.

The party aims to submit bills to the extraordinary Diet session to bar foreigners from receiving state assistance by replacing the current system of cash handouts — handled by municipalities — with perhaps a one-year program of food stamps and other limited aid to help foreigners get through periods of distress.

The party, launched by former Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara, wants to end 60 years of welfare benefits doled out to foreigners, Fumiki Sakurauchi, its policy chief, told The Japan Times last week.

Foreigners usually receive support for living expenses in the form of monthly stipends, including free medical treatment and nursing care.

Sakurauchi said the move was prompted by the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling in July declaring that foreigners are not entitled to benefit from Japan’s welfare program.

“Now that the top court has confirmed that only Japanese citizens are eligible for welfare benefits I think it’s time to create a separate legal system that will work in lieu of the current public assistance law” for those foreigners who need financial aid, he said.

A 1950 law on public assistance technically singles out “citizens” of Japan as legitimate recipients of the benefits in times of financial distress.

In practice, however, foreigners with long-term or permanent residency have been granted the aid based on a 1954 notice by the then-Welfare Ministry that allowed municipalities to decide.

A ministry survey found that 43,479 foreigners’ households were on the welfare register in 2011. Koreans accounted for 66.2 percent of the total, at 28,796 households, followed by Filipinos at 11.2 percent and Chinese at 10.2 percent.

The party’s proposals hold that foreigners in hard times will be entitled to food stamps and other aid, but only for a limited period — most likely a year.

In this period, Sakurauchi said, foreigners “will have a choice — either they leave Japan or become naturalized citizens of Japan. If you want to continue to subsist on our money, I’d say be naturalized.”

The bills in the making, Sakurauchi said, are not targeted at foreigners alone. They are more of an attempt, he said, to overhaul the nation’s welfare benefit system which the party alleges is being abused by “not a small number” of recipients, both Japanese and foreign.

Citing reports that recipients are sometimes spotted gambling away their handouts, Sakurauchi said the party will also propose that benefit recipients, both Japanese and foreign, get aid mostly in the form of vouchers and food stamps, as in the United States, or even in kind.

It will also call for a halt to the free medical services, asking recipients to cover some of the expense — about 10 percent or so.

External auditors will also be authorized to scrutinize recipients’ bank accounts to make sure they are not hoarding savings.

“The bills aren’t about ‘tightening up’ ” the poor, said the lawmaker, “they’re more about making the system more legitimate.”

Sakurauchi also emphasized that the party has no intention of “bullying foreigners.” He acknowledged there are certain rights foreigners should enjoy equally with Japanese citizens, such as freedom of speech and religion.

Still, he said, some aid is given to foreigners at government discretion and is contingent on the state’s financial health. Welfare is one such example.

“That’s the underlying reason why the current law limits legal recipients of welfare benefits to citizens of Japan,” he said

Since Jisedai no To only holds 19 seats in the Lower House, at least two short of that needed to submit legislation, it will seek nonpartisan support to get the bills into the system, said party member Makoto Tomoyuki.

  • J.P. Bunny

    Welcome to Japan. Please come here, work hard, pay taxes, fall on hard times, and go away.

    • itoshima2012

      I know of many foreigners that are not even paying into the pension system,,,,,, so, please, give me a break about all those foreigners paying huge taxes ecc, most earn little and pay almost no tax! and the minimum in health insurance!

      • J.P. Bunny

        I know foreigners that are paying into the pension system along with their fair share of taxes. Earning very little means that even paying the low amount of tax owed is paying one’s fair share. Paying the minimum in health insurance is no picnic when your employer decides you are now on daily pay, instead of the salary that you used to earn.

      • Dipak Bose

        You are talking about illegal visa over-stayers particularly in the construction industry. In normal employment workers have to pay for pensions and national insurance for health and unemployment, but they may not get any pension unless they work for continuous 25 years. If they stay in Japan they automatically pay for all kind of indirect tax, national tax, local taxes and direct tax like income tax.
        You do not know about employment law.

    • Crusader00

      Yes all gaijin leave or may the yakuza take them down!

      Keep Japan Japanese! Expel all cultural Marxists!

    • Dipak Bose

      and without any pension if you work for less than 25 years.

  • Barry Rosenfeld

    Actually this message is rather positive if you think about it JP; this party actually advocates naturalisation, something that I have never heard uttered by any Japanese political party since 1952! So, despite the brickbats, there is a silverlining after all!

    • zer0_0zor0

      Yeah, it’s just possible that as outsiders, these people might be able to shake up the utterly corrupt and nepotistic political establishment if they truly act in the public’s interest.

      Naturalization does not necessarily seem like an unreasonable condition, but I’m confident that others will opine on that.

    • Edward J. Cunningham

      I have a feeling that although the JNT pays lips service to getting foreigners to naturalize, they’ll actually put more roadblacks in the naturalization process to encourage foreigners to do what they really want, which is to leave.

      • Roger London

        Who wants to carry someone elses luggage?

      • Edward J. Cunningham

        Even if all foreigners were willing to “carry their own baggage” and jump through all the hoops necessary to become Japanese citizens, I believe the JNT and possibly other political parties would call for immigration laws to be changed to specifically exclude people who do not belong to the Yamato race.

      • Roger London

        If its their country?
        You don`t have to let people into your apartment; and can stop them setting up home in your bathroom. Why should a country let in people it doesn`t want; unless they have something to contribute; especially when the USA severely restricted Europeans moving there since 1980 (Reagan/Thatcher/Etc) but threw open the doors wide to Africans (to try reduce Unions and Wage costs [remember the propaganda Movie;- “Coming to America”?]); but all they did was lead to the ruin of both countries economies via short-term policies. And HIV AIDS spreading quick.
        Japan does not have copy failed policies.

      • Edward J. Cunningham

        Last time I checked, Japan isn’t overcrowded. In fact, their population is collapsing because of a very low birthrate. Immigration is the obvious answer to the problem, but Japan won’t accept this because they can’t accept the idea that anybody who isn’t Yamato ever being a real Japanese. That’s why I don’t believe this party when it claims foreigners to become Japanese citizens. They want them to leave, period.

        This is wrong, and I’m not going to shut up about it. To me, it is fundamentally wrong to believe that someone doesn’t belong in a country solely because of their race, and westerners like you who apologise for Japan’s attitude do so to justify their own racism. Is it worth going to war with Japan over? Obviously not, unless they do something extremely stupid like they did in 1941. But we need to stick up for our people who are still living in Japan, and make it very clear that you cannot expect educated, skilled, and valuable westerners to come to Japan unless westerners feel that Japan can be a home, not only for themselves but also their children and grandchildren.

      • PettyJapanTimesMods

        In case you are out of touch. Japan has VERY LIMITED habitable land space that is not used for farming.
        Japan has one of the highest population densities in the modern world. It has a similar land area to the UK, but twice the population (and people think the UK is overpopulated). So a lower population might actually provide some `breathing space` so houses & apartments of the future can all get a little more generous in size.

        As for Japan not wanting other culture people to become part of their `Yamato` tribe as you put it. Well, that is their business until there are international agreements where all countries can exchange similar numbers of immigrants according to such agreements and preference as decreed by law.

        Unless of course you are claiming that everyone in the world should remove the locks from all their front and back doors? Because a country is not so different to an extended house or castle. It should have security, even if you disagree.

      • Barry Rosenfeld

        Edward, I like your verve and as an American I could well understand your setiments but I don’t buy the aspect that because one lives in a country or is even born in one that it should make them a bona fide citizen. Japan is Japan and was never a country of immigrants. You’re judging the general by the particular and think because as an American you think that other countries should have the same policies. America is a country of immigrants (and if you are Canadian, same thing) Sorry, I’m not with you on this one. I have been resident here with a Japanese wife and PR for over 15 years and if immigration should offer me naturalization and took it, how can I can I look a Japanese straight in the face and say, ‘I am Japanese’
        In my heart I know that I am paper Japanese not a real one. I’ll feel like a fraud.

      • Edward J. Cunningham

        “How can I look a Japanese straight in the face and say, ‘I am Japanese’ In my heart I know that I am paper Japanese not a real one. I’ll feel like a fraud.”

        Citizenship is not the same thing as race or ethnicity. That you are not a member of the Yamato race should have NOTHING to do with whether you are a Japanese citizen or a “real” Japanese person. When a country like Japan refuses to allow descendants of Koreans who have lived in their country since before World War II, that’s wrong. When your country needs workers, and instead of going to South Korea or Japan, who at least have been exposed to the kanzi/hiragana writing system you go to Brazil simply because those Portuguese-speaking workers are Yamato—that’s also wrong.

        What’s happening in Japan is racism, pure and simple—and I’m calling it out. And the white people on this thread who have been defending this system are doing nothing more than justifying their own racism. “Uniqueness” doesn’t justify it. My region of the United States was proudly defended slavery and white supremacy as also being unique. That argument didn’t work for them either, and in the end, they paid for it dearly.

        Japan will never be completely like Canada, the United States, Mexico, and the other countries which make up North America. But if you honestly think the great-great-grandchild of an immigrant who comes to Japan, who learns the Japanese language as a native and is a productive citizen isn’t a “real Japanese” because she has blue eyes or blonde hair, you’re part of the problem.

      • Barry Rosenfeld

        Say Edward, do you why the Japanese tend to take a wide berth of Americans? It is because ignorant uneducated white trailier trash like you that attempt to ram their viewpoints down the throat every Japanese that makes your sort hated throughout Japan and indeed throughout the entire world chum.

        Seeing your FB profile, it’s apparent that you couldn’t string two words of Japanese together.

        Typical uneducated loudmouth Yank.

    • Dipak Bose

      It is near impossible for anyone to get Japanese citizenship in the same way it is near impossible to get a Japanese driving license or to use an international driving license in Japan. There are too many rules which are logically contradictory and impossible to fulfill.

    • Dipak Bose

      How many non-Chinese foreigners can pass Japanese language test at grade 3 levels?

      • phu

        I get and mostly agree with the arguments that Japanese citizenship is intentionally almost unobtainable, but please don’t make statements like this. JLPT 3 is not that hard; I personally know about a dozen non-Asians that have successfully tested at 2 or 1. I also know two Chinese currently going through Japanese education who obviously know all of the kanji but don’t know the Japanese readings or the grammar and thus struggle in ways that other foreigners don’t.

    • Shiki Byakko

      The ultra right has always said that you should naturalize, because they want the Korean people to renounce their nationality.

      Also, it is actually easier to naturalize than become a permanent resident.

  • tommy92

    Sounds fair to me ….. a years worth of social assistance seems generous really. He hasn’t suggested no assistance and immediate expulsion from the country.

    Fall on hard times and receive help for up to a year. I think you would find support for a similar plan in other countries. It would also affect very few people, few foreigners are on welfare for over year.

    The article doesn’t say if foreigners would still be eligible for unemployment insurance. So I assume that is in another category of assistance????

    • OsFish

      Unemployment insurance is something completely different, and is not affected. I’m afraid the reporting on this ruling in general has been pretty poor and has confused a lot of people.

      Social insurance – shakai hoken – is completely unaffected. There is no nationality requirement, and you get it because you’ve paid in. This particular benefit is means-tested and non-contributory. It goes to people with inadequate income, including inadequate insurance benefits. It’s about 1% of the population, mainly the old, abandoned mothers and the disabled. These are people without proper contribution records and no income.

      (The ruling actually doesn’t even stop assistance to foreigners. It simply clarified that the authority that OBLIGES municipalities to treat foreigners the same as Japanese is a notice from the welfare ministry, and not the law about assistance itself, which explicitly states recipients are citizens. That is, foreigners can get assistance on the same basis as Japanese. Bad reporting…)

      • Roger London

        So; its a Human rights issue.

    • Roger London

      It encourages whoredom I suppose.

  • itoshima2012

    Why is everybody getting always so upset/excited about these type of news. The Party for Future Generations is a joke, 19 out 0f 480 Shugiin, 4 out of 242 in Sangin, a total fringe party, like the Tea Party, much much smaller than Front National, come on Japan Times, give as real news, not just headlines…..

    • Crusader00

      The Party of Future Generations formed between elections, upon a party split. Let us hope and pray they expand their presence in both houses next time and gear up to expel all gaijin, whether ‘permanent residents’ or ‘citizens’ a la David Aldwinckle.

  • Scrote

    If you are unemployed they will refuse to allow you to naturalise.

    • Actually, depends on the case. In particular, Special Permanent Residents (SPRs) have always been exempt from meeting condition #4* for naturalizing: “Being able to make a living through his/her own assets or abilities, or through those of a spouse or of another relative who is making a living”. In other words, if you’re SPR (most of the current non-Japanese recipients of livelihood protection assistance welfare are), you can be unemployed and/or broke or “on welfare” and still naturalize.

      * SPRs are also exempt from other conditions for naturalization that regular foreign residents must qualify for.

  • How can I cast my vote for fomer Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara? I live in NYC. I think his idea is great. If only we can do the same here in the states. All these damn illegals are taking over my country. GO Gov.

    • Crusader00

      Ganbatte Ishihara!

      • Roger London

        International population number exchange agreements are good. Limits.

  • Crusader00

    Keep Japan Japanese. All gaijin out; no ‘naturalization’! As an otaku, no need to turn the Land of the Rising Sun into a fetid Turd World hell like Detroit.

    This is why I hate cultural Marxist organs like the Japan Times which act as gatekeepers for the news from Nippon.

  • Roger London

    Do you hope Japan is encouraging other countries to stop providing any Japanese people getting child benefits or welfare or similar assistance in any other countries Mr Politician?
    I must admit though; a RECIPROCAL agreement seems the way forward.

  • PettyJapanTimesMods

    The statistics prove that Japan has only around a 5% proportion of foreigners on welfare compared to the UK. So, does Japan have a 95% smaller economy than the UK?

    Quote the UK Telegraph newspapers;- “Number of foreign nationals on benefits soars to 400,000
    The number of foreign nationals claiming benefits such as Jobseeker’s Allowance has jumped by 40 per cent in just four years to more than 400,000, new government figures have disclosed.” ………………………..where that conservative number is funded by an indigenous population that is half that of Japan (similar land area).

  • Eagle

    Yes, the good olde recipe. Don’t care about social discrepancies, just make a new law. Control and solve problems with laws.

    “Sakurauchi also emphasized that the party has no intention of “bullying foreigners.”
    He shouldn’t have told this. We all know that their bullying is always unintentional.

  • Ask1Korean1

    Island mentality!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • FunkyB

    The government should do away with the Special Permanent Resident designation and it’s associated exemptions (grandfather-clause some people if need be). It is aggravating the problem at public expense by encouraging people to take government handouts and pay less in taxes. If someone has a legitimate disability or is owed damages by the government, let them claim benefits specifically on the merits of their case.

    Instead of SPR, they should allow for dual citizenship. That would appeal more to the type of expats/immigrants who would contribute more to Japan: working professionals and their families.

  • iuyyyyui

    Even naturalization is not enough: assimilation should be expected, required, and demanded. Or else Japan will go down its own version of the path the U.S. is on: only a decade or so from becoming … the United States of Mexico. Half the over-the-air T.V. channels in (U.S.) urban cities are Spanish-language; ditto A.M. radio stations … with F.M. not far behind (maybe around 25%). Spanish will soon enough be the primary day-to-day language in the urban centers, even if it will take longer for a Canadian-style “officially bilingual” law to be passed. But in probably 20 years, the U.S. will, like Canada has with French, have all kinds of “officially bilingual” laws mandating that Spanish be a co-equal language in the courts, government offices, etc.

    As for “work hard, pay taxes, go home” … don’t like it? DON’T COME TO JAPAN IN THE FIRST PLACE THEN.



    Maybe best of all, try North Korea. They need to supplement their starving laborers who are eating grass with fat, well-fed foreigners. Don’t want to perform forced chain-gang labor for Kim Jong-Un? Well then, you can always be his # 1 Cyber-Hacker, too, if that suits you better.