It’s almost as if there’s a taboo on politicians and government officials taking up the issue of increasing immigration to alleviate the consequences of Japan’s declining birthrate and graying society. I am quite sure that currently in Japan — unlike in the United States or Europe — there are no hate groups that openly spew forth vituperative racist diatribes and advocate extreme violence against ethnic minorities.

This is not to say that Japan is without its racists; nor is there any denying that there are staunch advocates of keeping Japanese society as “homogenous” as possible. Anecdotal evidence suggests, however, that the average Japanese citizen by and large is quite hospitable to immigrants as indicated by the increasing number of international marriages. These marriages are taking place not only in cosmopolitan urban areas but also in rural regions where the shortage of prospective brides is serious enough to threaten the future of Japanese farming.

I personally know several people from India who have told me that although they received racist taunts while residing in Europe, they have never had such a humiliating experience in Japan, adding that they find themselves more at home in Japan than anywhere else outside of India.

If the Japanese government, politicians and bureaucrats believe that they can solve the looming demographic crisis without considering the option of immigration, then so be it and good luck. However, my compatriots and I would certainly be interested in hearing what their alternative plans are. It would be nice to know that they are at least attuned to the changes in Japanese society and attitudes toward immigrants, and are aware of the undeniable contribution that immigrants have made since the beginning of Japanese history.

ko unoki