When I was in Ohio, I wrote this blog post, but ended up forgetting to publish it. So I here are a few thoughts I have about the Japanese labor market and how (and if) Japan can reverse its population crisis and if bringing in foreign workers can help alleviate the situation.
Anyway, here are a few thoughts on what I think about the Japanese labor market situation.
First and foremost, I can understand that Japan needs to import foreign labor for the "low-class jobs" and other sort of service industry positions. In fact, while I was in Chiba for the past three months, I saw a lot more Chinese, Korean, Nepalese, and Thai workers at 7-11, Lawson, Family Mart, local grocery stores, construction work, and even at my own work place (albeit it was only one China man, and I owe him big time for him helping me to train me on press machine inspection). Even here in Texas, there are many of positions that most Americans do not want to work in. Such as, any venturing capitalist in America would naturally hire immigrants, legal or not, to do manual labor, cooking, and other "low-class" jobs in the eyes of Americans. And it isn't just the United States and Japan doing this, but a lot of the European countries are doing this as well. So Japan is not doing an innovative approach to this, but a necessary step in order to increase it's work force.
However, Japan has one key advantage that the United States and other Western nations do not have, and that is it's immigration policy and their geographic location in the world. It's no secret that Japan has one of the strictest immigration policies and statutes in the world, and I've been on the receiving end of it for three years while I lived there. It is very difficult, if not impossible to live in this country illegally. While Simple Gaijin does not advocate breaking Japanese law, but if you want a real challenge in life, this would be it.
How strict is Japanese immigration you might ask? Consider these facts...
- You need to have your passport with you on your person at all times if you are traveling as a tourist while in Japan. If you do not and Japanese police ask to see it, regardless of the situation, your ass is going to police station, where they can hold you for at least 3 weeks without questioning, or if they do... well, you better pray to God that you got grit of steel and not sign anything.
- Foreigners and even Japanese are rarely granted bail. RARELY!
- Overstaying your visa is a death sentence... not to you personally, but if you ever want to come back to Japan, you'll be at least 10 years older since the government will take your picture, fingerprints, every sort of information on you possible to immigration so that if you even fly into Japan for a connecting flight, your going back to Japanese prison.
- As stated earlier, Japanese cops can ask you for your passport at any time for any reason. You better have it on you. (Just wanted to re-emphasize this)
Since Japan is an island nation, the Japanese have a better chance of taking out their illegal immigrants. But at the same time, they present a unique opportunity for foreigners to get jobs in Japan. Now that the "Don't-Leave-Your-Hotel-Without-Your-Passport" warning is over, let's continue with the labor talk.
Now it's also no secret that the Japanese population is continually getting grayer as the years go on. Japan has more centurions than any other country in the world, eclipsing the 60,000 mark in 2015, and the number is only going to get higher from here on out (unless Japan starts acting like Americans and start eating McDonalds every day, but that won't happen). By the year 2050, the Japanese government expects to have over one million centurions, and all at the same time, young Japanese people are not going to their local love hotel and doing the mattress... er, futon mambo and not replenishing their population. In fact, there are plenty of reasons why the Japanese are not getting hitched, or at the very least, not having kids or having enough kids to replenish the population. Let's have a look at a few of these reasons.
First thing is the freedom of the fairer sex in Japan. Now I am all for both genders being equal in terms of pay, rank, and any other sort of position or privileges in life. That I have no problem with and a woman is free to follow her own destiny as she sees fit. In Japan, plenty of women, mostly in the suburban and urban areas that take this advice to heart and some even become "career women", totally dedicated to their careers and their own destinies. And that is perfectly fine in my book.
Unfortunately a lot of Japanese men see this as very intimidating. After all, for the longest time, men came first, and women come second (or in Austin Power's words "Or sometimes not at all") in Japan, and with this new freedom for Japan's ladies, men lost a lot of their dominance over them. While Japan is still a male-dominated society, many women choose to pick their careers over marriage and kids, and as a result, the lack of sex and babies has taken a hit on Japan's population, which in turn affects the labor market numbers for future generations.
"Japan’s Centenarian Population Tops 60,000 for First Time." The Japan Times. The Japan Times, 11 Sept. 2015. Web. 16 Sept. 2016.
Shah, Yagana. "Japan Has So Many People Turning 100, It Can’t Afford To Give Them All Gifts." The Huffington Post. N.p., 24 Aug. 2015. Web. 16 Sept. 2016.
Sharp, Andy. "Japan's Population Falls by Most Since Records Began in 1968."Bloomberg.com. Bloomberg, 13 July 2016. Web. 16 Sept. 2016.