Temporary Workers or Future Citizens?: Japanese and U.S. Migration Policies

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Is Japan's Immigration Policy Really Strict?

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Add a tag. Public Private login e. But this is really all about numbers and a desire to allow fewer foreign-born people into the country. It would also deny the opportunity to immigrate to approximately 4 million family-sponsored immigrants who have waited lawfully outside the country. For more information on the legal immigration system see this National Foundation for American Policy report. Moreover, as discussed here , demographic changes in Latin America mean the U.

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Conflicting Japanese Responses to the Syrian Refugee Crisis | The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus

However, these facts will not influence administration policies. The Trump administration is likely to seek to increase deportations through restrictive policies toward unaccompanied minors and parents and by pressuring immigration judges to complete more cases. While Immigration and Customs Enforcement ICE has hardly focused its attention only on hardened criminals, will likely seen a turn toward immigration raids on businesses. Such raids have always been controversial. At one point he sought to lower the level to 15, a year, from a recent level of , The announced administration level was 45, for FY but other bureaucratic obstacles placed on individuals who are already the most-vetted immigrants mean even that low number may not enter this fiscal year.

Miller can be proud of his efforts. The Washington Post reported children are dying of cancer in refugee camps who could have received treatment in the United States. Under the law, Congress is supposed to play a prominent role in refugee policy but so far it has been missing in action. John F. Kelly offered his opinion. To supplement the discussion in newspapers, I would like to examine other publications. One of the articles was published in Sekai World , whose tone is progressive liberal. She raises issues related to refugee acceptance procedure in the Basic Plan for Immigration Control 5th Edition released in September The plan, however, also mentions restrictive measures such as sorting out applications based on reasons clearly inconsistent with the Refugee Convention and setting restrictions on the resubmission of an application.

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Although the main point of her argument is institutional issues, similar to the newspapers, we can see words concerning the status of Japan in international society. The author is Sono Ayako, a conservative writer. While not precluding the admission of refugees in the future, she states that it is too early for Japan to accept refugees. In short, she insists that Japan does not know how to accept foreign people because of its historical or geographical background.

Although the issues related to the Syrian Civil War and the subsequent refugee crisis have been discussed since around in the Diet and its committees, the Prime Minister and the Minister for Foreign Affairs only highlighted the financial assistance Japan had pledged and did not mention the admission of refugees. In addition, other members of the Diet did not ask the government about the admission of refugees. It was not until 27 November in the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the House of Representatives that the admission of refugees was discussed in relation to the Syrian refugee crisis for the first time.

Temporary Workers or Future Citizens?

In many cases, while an ordinary member of parliament made remarks which pointed out the shortcomings of Japanese refugee policy or urged the admission of refugees, Cabinet Ministers supported the non-admission of refugees. What was most obvious from discussions in the Diet and its committees was the desire to maintain a good reputation in international society. He pointed out that the Japanese refugee recognition system was one of the strictest among developed countries. He pointed out the hardships Syrian students studying in Japan faced.

He stated that they were not allowed to bring their families because their families were already outside Syria and the Japanese government does not allow entry from a third country. In addition, their scholarships from the Syrian government had been stopped, but they could not get any support in Japan and were not allowed to work in Japan either. He stated,. On the other hand, what we were told by host countries of refugees was that, if Japan would accept refugees as students each year and educate them to become leaders of their home countries, media all over the world would highly value Japanese humanitarian assistance and report the Japanese commitment widely.

Japan has been doing as many things as possible, but, unfortunately, it is impossible for Japan to accept 10, or 20, refugees. Rather than that, it is important to address the root issues which cause the flow of refugees, offering substantial assistance to neighbouring countries […] it is true that Japanese contributions in those fields are already appreciated in international society.

There are many things that we should do before accepting immigrants. Even though he was asked about the admission of refugees, he answered about demographic issues in Japan. He continued,. Japan would like to contribute by changing the conditions that give rise to refugees. The cause of this tragedy is the fear of violence and terrorism, and terror of poverty. The world must cooperate in order for them to find a way to escape poverty. His remarks show his intention to avoid discussion about the admission of refugees in Japan and to highlight Japanese financial assistance.

In their remarks, Ministers also highlight the fact that Syrian people have been allowed to stay in Japan based on humanitarian considerations although they are not granted refugee status. In , people were allowed to stay based on humanitarian considerations and 26 of them are Syrians.

In , as of the end of November, 98 people including 12 Syrians were allowed to stay in Japan. In the same way, the Minister of Justice Iwaki Mitsuhide, when asked about the admission of Syrian refugees in the Budget Committee on 25 February , stated that,. Syrian applicants for refugee status are allowed to stay in Japan even if they are not recognized as a refugee. We are accepting them as emergency cases based on humanitarian considerations.

In short, as we can see from these remarks, the Abe government considers that they are protecting Syrian people even if they are not granting them refugee status. This rationale can be found in the remarks of ordinary members of parliament. On the other hand, government ministers highlighted the view that the way to utilize Japanese strength is not to accept refugees but to offer financial assistance. Before analysing the discourses above, I would like to mention Islamophobia in Japan.

In European countries, the rise of Islamophobia has been noted amid the influx of refugees from Muslim countries.

According to a survey conducted in , Islamophobia is on the rise in fields including education, employment, media, politics, the justice system and the Internet in European countries. Public opposition to further migration from predominantly Muslim countries is very high. In the middle of , however, when European countries were experiencing the influx of refugees, one illustration of a Syrian refugee girl drawn by a Japanese artist caused controversy.

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An illustration drawn by Japanese Manga artist Hasumi Toshiko was posted on her official Facebook account on 10 September The illustration was probably traced from a photo of a Syrian girl at a refugee settlement in Lebanon taken by a Canadian photographer. Although Facebook Japan did not remove the illustration, saying that it did not violate community standards, Hasumi deleted the illustration herself, saying that it had caused too much trouble for the photographer who took the original photo.

The book features her illustrations which anti-racism campaigners called racist cartoons.

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It also includes the illustration of the Syrian girl though her appearance has been changed so that she does not look like the girl in the original photo taken by the Canadian photographer. For example, it has received reviews on an online book store, Amazon. Does this mean the rise of Islamophobia in Japan by either the government or the general public? It is true that Muslim community in Japan has been kept under surveillance. In , confidential documents of the Metropolitan Police Department were leaked online, which revealed that the police had compiled personal information about Muslims.

The Supreme Court issued a ruling on 31 May after two appeals. While the decision ordered the Tokyo government to pay a total of 90 million yen in compensation to the plaintiffs, it upheld the ruling by lower courts that the surveillance was necessary. I consider, however, that this surveillance does not necessarily mean that Islamophobia is spreading in Japanese society. There was a concern that these two events might affect Japanese attitude to Muslims. In some Mosques in Japan, the number of non-Muslim Japanese who want to visit the Mosques to learn about Islam has even increased after those incidents.

One possible explanation for why Islamophobia is not so explicit in Japan is that the number of Muslims is relatively small compared with European countries. There is no official data about the number of Muslims, but Tanada, estimates that they number around , to , Since Islamophobia in Japan has hardly been discussed, it is hard to discern its effect on Japanese responses to the Syrian refugee crisis. However, some studies point to a rise of xenophobic movements since the mid s in Japan. In the same way, if the outflow of Muslim refugees continues, these xenophobic movements may develop connotations of Islamophobia.

The Japanese government actually has accepted more refugees than public opinion would dictate. One possible explanation is that opinion polls show negative attitudes regarding the admission of refugees. As shown above, the majority of respondents to opinion polls opposed the admission of refugees. However, low public support cannot fully explain why the Japanese government takes a certain policy. The Japanese government also adopted the Refugee convention in In addition, low public support cannot explain why the Japanese government decided to accept Syrian students but not refugees.

We need to focus on other factors to explain the Japanese responses. As noted above, based on the analysis of Japanese discourse, rationales that promote the admission of refugees can be classified as follows. I consider that the rationales that promote the admission of refugees can best be explained by state identity. As we saw in media texts and proceedings of the Diet and its committees, there is a shared idea that Japan is a developed country, so Japan needs to act accordingly. This idea has led to the desire to be valued highly by other countries and not to fall behind other developed countries.

These remarks in the discussion on the admission of Syrian refugees show how much Japanese politicians care about how Japan is valued by other countries. Regarding the rationales preventing the admission of refugees, we note these rationales from newspaper and Diet proceedings.

As mentioned above, this identity is not based on reality. According to a survey by the Health, Labour and Welfare Ministry and Kyodo news, one in 29 babies born in Japan in had at least one non-Japanese parent. For example, the rationale that Japan does not know how to accept foreign people because of its historical or geographical background is based on the idea that Japan is a homogeneous nation which has not accepted foreigners.

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