• Tokorozawa, Saitama


Regarding the Feb. 18 article “Justice Ministry looking to take over foreigner ID cards“: It seems that neither The Japan Times nor other English-language newspapers can agree on whether changes to the new zairyu (residence) cards would have to be reported to the Immigration Bureau or to the Justice Ministry.

I am of the belief that this is part of the problem of the current system (and quite likely the proposed future system, too). Multiple levels of government (local and national) and multiple ministries/bureaus/agencies handling immigration increase the red tape and likelihood of foulups.

If Japan is serious about immigration, it will need a full-blown ministry, like a Ministry for Immigration and Foreign Affairs; it will need to keep the Justice Ministry out of the framework when dealing with legal migrants; it will have to change its vocabulary (“immigrants,” not “foreigners”); non-Japanese spouses will have to be listed as “spouses” on family records, not merely as “remarks”; and eventually the government must offer real incentives to become Japanese citizens.

andrew smallacombe

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