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Eine Frau geht an einer Weltkarte, die aus Kinderporträts besteht, am Freitag (18.06.2010) im JuniorMuseum in Köln vorbei.

Japan

Only two million foreigners live in Japan. (This number includes all foreigners registered as resident in Japan. Registration is compulsory in the case of residence exceeding 90 days for all status groups except members of the US military and holders of diplomatic and other official or service passports (Behaghel and Vogt 2006: 116).) In other words, immigrants make up no more than 1.63% of the total population – a tiny percentage for an economically successful and politically stable nation and astonishing in view of its long history of international immigration and emigration. If we consider the history of Japanese migration as one of extremes, in which phases of totally unrestricted contact with the international community alternated with others of almost hermetic isolation, the present phase would have to be seen as one of half-hearted opening. This is evident both in Japan’s international relations and in its immigration policy. What should be noted here is that Japan’s government sees the current tentative opening up of the borders of the national labor market as covered by other areas of international policy – repatriation of ethnic Japanese, development cooperation or free trade agreements. The topic of international labor migration and its economic necessity is not, however, addressed. Hence there is in Japan’s immigration policy a quite remarkable discrepancy between political aspiration and actual result.

Japan

Gabriele Vogt

Historical Development of Migration

Archaeological evidence exists showing that immigration to Japan from what is now Korea and China was already taking place in prehistoric and early historical times.

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Immigrant population as percentage of total population

Gabriele Vogt

Current Development of Migration

In 1990 there were 1,075,317 immigrants registered as resident in Japan (0.87%), in 1995 the figure was 1,362,371 (1.08%) and finally in the year 2000 it was 1,686,444 (1.33%). In 2008 the immigrant population reached its highest level to date with 2,217,426 persons (1.74%). In the space of 18 years the size of the immigrant population doubled. In particular, the immigrant communities from China and Brazil experienced a dramatic rise.

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Gabriele Vogt

Migration Policy

The channels of labor migration to Japan outlined above – the programs for ethnic Japanese, for international trainees and for care workers – are all, without exception, state-initiated channels, and yet they run counter to the fundamental principles of Japan’s immigration policy.

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Immigrant population by nationality

Gabriele Vogt

The Immigrant Population

As an immediate consequence of the revision of the Immigration Law of 1990, the Chinese, Brazilian and Peruvian populations in Japan experienced a rapid surge in numbers. In 2007 the Chinese population (2007: 606,889 persons) overtook that of the Koreans (2007: 593,489 persons) to become the numerically largest immigrant population. The third largest group is represented by the Brazilians, followed by the immigrants from the Philippines and Peru.

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Gabriele Vogt

Citizenship

Open access to citizenship is regarded as offering the best opportunity to protect the rights of immigrants. This is particularly true of a country like Japan, where it is a matter of legal dispute whether the human rights named in the constitution apply to Japanese citizens only or to immigrants as well.c

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Gabriele Vogt

Integration

The concept of integration was first mentioned as a political aim of migration policy in a Japanese government document in 2006. This document represented an outline plan for individual prefectures and municipalities, which were required to implement the integration of immigrants through the concept of tabunkakyōsei.

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Gabriele Vogt

Refuge and Asylum

As in the field of integration, in that of refuge and asylum too Japan is a "belated nation". Japan did not ratify the UN Convention on Human Rights until 1981 – thirty years after it had come into force.

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Gabriele Vogt

Irregular Migration

Irregular migration is attributable to one main cause: failure to leave the country after the expiry of the residence permit. In 2011 the Ministry of Justice recorded 78,488 irregular immigrants in Japan.

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Gabriele Vogt

Current Developments and Future Challenges

Officially, Japan’s immigration policy opens the country’s borders exclusively for temporary immigration and the highly skilled group. De facto, however, two thirds of the immigrant population fail to meet one or both of these criteria.

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Country Profile 24: Japan

References and Further Reading

Here you can find literature and further reading for Country Profile 24 "Japan" by Gabriele Vogt.

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Kurzdossiers

Zuwanderung, Flucht und Asyl: Aktuelle Themen

Ein Kurzdossier legt komplexe Zusammenhänge aus den Bereichen Zuwanderung, Flucht und Asyl sowie Integration auf einfache und klare Art und Weise dar. Es bietet einen fundierten Einstieg in eine bestimmte Thematik, in dem es den Hintergrund näher beleuchtet und verschiedene Standpunkte wissenschaftlich und kritisch abwägt. Darüber hinaus enthält es Hinweise auf weiterführende Literatur und Internet-Verweise. Dies eröffnet die Möglichkeit, sich eingehender mit der Thematik zu befassen. Unsere Kurzdossiers erscheinen bis zu 6-mal jährlich.

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