To make a long story short, what follows below is a somewhat boring paper that I wrote on Japanese immigration policy. I wasn't really planning to post it to the internet, as I thought it wouldn't be interesting to anyone aside from undergraduate students trying to copy an essay on the subject. However, the contrived serendipity of the internet (i.e., google searches for related terms) drew my attention to the video below, and this made me aware of just how many misconceptions abound on this subject… and how wishful thinking may be misrepresenting the basic political facts.
So, to offer just a few points for those who don't have the patience to to read this (and I can't blame you),
- Yes, Japanese citizenship is based on "blood" (the legal principle of jus sanguinis), contrary to what Mira tells you in the video below.
- Yes, Japanese law does tightly restrict and discourage permanent migration, and even temporary labor-migration (although the government is less restrictive now than it was in the 1960s, through a series of changes in policy discussed below).
- While the statistics do reflect Japan's (remarkable) history of discouraging immigration, the numbers are actually skewed by the bizarre legal treatment of Korean-Japanese and Brazilian-Japanese [日系人], who are labelled and counted under special categories. If you look at the bar-chart, above, Japan's apparent number of foreign residents is dramatically lower than Denmark, but the real number is lower still, roughly half of what it appears to be (as explained in the essay below, e.g., "Out of the census-total of 1,686,444 foreign residents (for the year 2000), we would therefore have come to a smaller estimate of 781,934 by excluding zainichi [在日] and nikkeijin [日系人]").
Read on for all the glorious charts, legal details and citations.