Regarding the article “UNICEF chief urges Japan to open its doors to more refugees” in the Oct. 19 edition, if the Japanese are truly “very good global citizens,” as UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake says, surely my fellow countrymen would agree with Lake’s appeal? After all, the refugee crisis is a humanitarian emergency.

I agree with Lake’s point that accepting refugees is economically beneficial, especially for aging populations. Since suddenly increasing the national birthrate to a significantly high number is unrealistic, the country can use young, motivated hands to contribute to our markets and labor force.

“Globalizing” Japan is a government goal; through interacting with these refugees at our schools and jobs, we can use their new ideas and open up our society, possibly creating a multicultural society friendlier to foreigners. Potential terrorism shouldn’t be an issue as long as they are satisfied with their life in Japan.

Judging by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s response, he doesn’t seem to understand the difference between immigrants and refugees. He is paranoid about an influx of foreigners, but these people are searching for a country that will at least temporarily provide their basic needs. A group of refugees is not going to cause a demographic crisis.

We must not forget that most Syrians are still in their own country, where a civil war is being fought, and most of the refugees are still in Middle Eastern nations bordering Syria, not Europe. It’s time for Japan to do more than tip in financial donations to the U.N.


The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

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