For Japanese people to express antipathy toward allowing the population of resident foreigners to rise suggests not a small dose of xenophobia. For a foreigner in Japan to echo the sentiment adds a whiff of hypocrisy.

Sadly, such seems to be the case for Brian Clacey, who cautions in his June 5 letter, “Hold guest workers to a timeline,” that foreign nurses/carers should be treated as “guest workers” and sent packing when their contracts expire.

Clacey may have his own bags packed, but when these nurses have completed their training and become highly skilled bilingual workers, they deserve more to look forward to than a one-way ticket home. Not only will they provide essential care to Japan’s aging population, but they’ll also undertake work that simply cannot be done by the country’s declining workforce. Such a contribution should be rewarded with a guaranteed right to residence as well as the assurance that they may pursue a full personal and social life with the possibility of making Japan their permanent home.

Workers such as nurses from Indonesia and the Philippines are not commodities to be shunted around the world to satisfy the transitory needs of national economies. They are people with social needs and human rights.

Despite many setbacks, my country, Britain, has endeavored to address and respect the needs of its diverse communities and has developed into a vibrant multicultural nation.

nick wood