In a controversial column by 83-year-old author Ayako Sono that appeared in the Feb. 11 issue of the Sankei Shimbun under the headline "Maintain a 'suitable distance,'" Sono suggested that when and if Japan changes its immigration policies to accept more foreign workers, they should live in racially segregated areas.

Remarks on the article appeared in Shukan Post (March 6), Asahi Geino (March 5), Flash (March 10) and Weekly Playboy (March 9). Sono also defended her column in the Shukan Bunshun (Feb. 26).While the general tone of the responses was supportive of Sono's right to express her opinions, Weekly Playboy went the extra mile and surveyed 100 adults between the ages of 20 and 79. When asked about her stance, 42.3 percent of respondents replied, "I can understand what she's saying, in part." This exceeded the 36.6 percent who responded, "It's understandable for her to be criticized" and 21 percent who saw no problem with the column's contents.

The magazine also asked the participants if they agreed that foreign blue-collar workers should be admitted in greater numbers to cope with labor shortages. As opposed to 7.8 percent who said they agreed and 27.5 percent who agreed to some extent, 41.8 percent were opposed to some extent, and 22.8 percent were opposed outright.