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Foreign resident population rises above 2%

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thomas

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According to an article by nippon.com based on data released by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications) 2.7m foreign residents live in Japan, amounting to roughly 2.1% of the population.

While the number of Japanese citizens declined by 433,239, amounting to 127.78m in 2018, the number of foreign residents increased by 169,543 in the same period, to 2,667,199; the trend is quite evident.

70% of all foreign residents live in Tokyo, Osaka, and Nagoya. Most foreigners live in Tokyo (551,683), Aichi (253,508), and Osaka (212,567). Interestingly, some ski resorts in Hokkaido have a foreign population of over 25%.

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nice gaijin

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Interesting! I can't remember whether it was in Nagano or Hokkaido, but someone was telling me about a ski resort area where during the winter you were more likely to be understood in English than Japanese. The times they are a-changing!
 

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The times may be changing but in recent article in the Kodomo Yomiuri (my Japanese is not good enough to read most of the articles in the adult version without a lot of effort) Japan's population is in the 124 millions and the remaining 2.5 million foreigners don't exist. I wrote them a polite email indicating that I don't care to be rendered non-existent but I never got a reply!
 

nahadef

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Interesting! I can't remember whether it was in Nagano or Hokkaido, but someone was telling me about a ski resort area where during the winter you were more likely to be understood in English than Japanese. The times they are a-changing!
Likely Niseiko, Hokkaido. Especially in winter, it’s full of Australians. In recent years, the number of Asians, especially Singaporeans, has been dramatically increasing, to the point where in a lot of city service positions (police, fire, hospital), English is becoming important. Ten years ago, I had my doubts about the relevance of English education to Japan, and I don’t have that at all anymore. English fluent businesses and employees will be in a position to make more/be more competitive.
 

nice gaijin

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Yes that sounds familiar, that might've been the place he was talking about. It'll be interesting to see English proficiency as a real, measurable goal of English education instead of checking off a box as part of compulsory education. And yet, the foreign population isn't necessarily English-speaking... so will Japan become more bilingual or multi-lingual as a result of these changing demographics?
 

Lothor

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Yes that sounds familiar, that might've been the place he was talking about. It'll be interesting to see English proficiency as a real, measurable goal of English education instead of checking off a box as part of compulsory education. And yet, the foreign population isn't necessarily English-speaking... so will Japan become more bilingual or multi-lingual as a result of these changing demographics?
My guess would be bilingual. Nearly everyone in Japan regardless of nationality has some English ability and some Japanese ability, so these seem to be the two natural languages for communication to be carried out in.
 

nice gaijin

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Do you suppose there will just be some bastions of other languages, specifically to cater to local foreign residents (like Okubo has been for a while for those of Korean descent, or parts of Aichi for Brazilians)... or for tourist destinations popular with certain foreigners (like Myeong-dong in Seoul is for Japanese visitors)?

I suppose Japan is already on its way to using English as the supplementary lingua franca so it seems unlikely they'll start branching out in other directions (back home we were required to take ANY offered foreign language in high school). Personally I find this to be a little unfortunate because it takes a diverse group of people with diverse skillsets to make an agile, functioning, international society (the right adjective escapes me here); forcing a uniform set of knowledge and skills on everyone sort of undermines that, especially when we haven't provided sufficient excitement for learning the compulsory subjects (which has always been a challenge, it seems).

Could mean good things for English language education in some ways, I hope.
 

nahadef

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English is the worlds second language, even if there are pockets where it’s Spanish or French. I doubt it will ever be Chinese because of the character based writing, and its tonal aspects, which require live, fluent teachers more than others.

Singapore has a solid English education. I don’t know if this factoid is still (or was ever) true, but 15 years ago it was said that China was the number one English-speaking country on the planet, as their English speakers outnumbered America’s. Point being, they’re likely to use English abroad, or at least have one in their group who can.

Anecdotally, I’ve been asked for directions a half dozen times in Sapporo by Singaporeans, Indonesians, Malaysians and other South East Asian countries. My white face walking comfortably without a map was a safer bet to ask an English question than a random Japanese.
 

TGI-ECT

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I believe there is a practical nature to this use of English, other than that the British were so powerful around the globe for so many years.

English has been a really interesting language for drawing in and sorting out and fitting in of all sorts of vocabulary from other languages. And that obviously started way back when the Normans were the bosses and speaking a different language than the lower ranking folks in England. And rank really was the big deal then.

Well, rank matters now, too. But it is the rank of money. And English is now used a lot on the international level by the folks with lots of money.

But this time, unlike Latin, we have a language that is amazingly flexible and doesn't use that his/her grammar style and all the other honorifics associated with so many other languages. Bottom line, English really is easier to learn than a whole mess of other languages.

Somehow I suspect this English use is going to be around for a very long time, or longer.

But that point about the inclusiveness of cultural differences through the use of other languages, is a very good point and is really something that should give rise to good thought-provoking discussion.

As for that 2% idea of this main topic, that is interesting when one then backs up and looks around this planet and sees so many nations of peoples that are so mixed culturally that maybe they can't even provide accurate percentages of how many foreigners are inside a given border area. Anyway, technically speaking the percentage of foreigners in North America is in about the 98% range, isn't it?
 

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I believe there is a practical nature to this use of English, other than that the British were so powerful around the globe for so many years.

English has been a really interesting language for drawing in and sorting out and fitting in of all sorts of vocabulary from other languages. And that obviously started way back when the Normans were the bosses and speaking a different language than the lower ranking folks in England. And rank really was the big deal then.

Well, rank matters now, too. But it is the rank of money. And English is now used a lot on the international level by the folks with lots of money.

But this time, unlike Latin, we have a language that is amazingly flexible and doesn't use that his/her grammar style and all the other honorifics associated with so many other languages. Bottom line, English really is easier to learn than a whole mess of other languages.

Somehow I suspect this English use is going to be around for a very long time, or longer.

But that point about the inclusiveness of cultural differences through the use of other languages, is a very good point and is really something that should give rise to good thought-provoking discussion.

As for that 2% idea of this main topic, that is interesting when one then backs up and looks around this planet and sees so many nations of peoples that are so mixed culturally that maybe they can't even provide accurate percentages of how many foreigners are inside a given border area. Anyway, technically speaking the percentage of foreigners in North America is in about the 98% range, isn't it?
A couple of thoughts - it can be argued that Japanese has much simpler grammar than English and most other languages I know of, with it's lack of perfect tense, singular and plural nouns, almost complete absence of irregular verbs and the same verb ending for different pronouns. I've got no special ability to speak languages but I found it relatively easy to learn to speak, whereas I gave up German (a much more similar language to English) as a bad job after a year at school.

Second, surely a foreigner in America is someone who is not an American national, which is certainly not 98% of the population? If you're going to count foreigners as people who immigrated sometime in the past, the logical conclusion of your argument is that 100% of the population of America (and Japan) are foreigners because we all originated from the Rift Valley!
 

nice gaijin

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If being easy to learn is the main metric, then English certainly doesn't make the cut for logical choices for a global language. It's only because we grew up speaking it that we can even begin to consider it "easy." Give a read/listen to the Etymologicon to get an idea of just how convoluted and irregular English vocabulary can be. Here are some videos of its author, speaking on the English language:


Judging them solely on phonology and grammar, I've found every language has its "difficult" aspects, or what I'd consider "drawbacks" for the purpose of using as a global lingua franca. It's all about what you can absorb while you can maintain neuroplasticity, otherwise learning language is more about finding ways to make it fun enough for you to want to study and practice.
 

nahadef

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I’d say English has the head start that is hard to catch up to, which will be the defining reason it’ll keep being used.

As for the % of foreigners, countries consider it differently, and often citizenship reflects that. Canada offers dual citizenship, so we don’t consider the concept of immigrants so much as those born in the country. Toronto at this point is roughly 50% not Canadian born, though lots of them are 100% Canadian in the eyes of most Canadians. In Japan though, I could be a tax-paying, passport-holding, Kimi-ga-yo-singing dude till the day I die, and I’d still be called a foreigner (and be told “You know Japan better than Japanese!” for knowing whatever trivia I do about the country).
 

TGI-ECT

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It is correct that my reference to 98% of the folks in N. America being foreigners is/was an extreme attitude. But I think it is actually just a reminder to myself to be careful. Too often folks from nations that have some degree of comfort levels above that of others on this planet gain some big heads and I suppose I am afraid of that happening to me, so I keep these weird and somewhat extreme views in the back of my brain and they pop up sometimes, as they did here in this thread.

The thoughts regarding the English language and its rather dominant role in human communications on this planet at the moment might be better to discuss in another thread, if such a thread doesn't already exist. I think I was taking this thread off-topic with my thoughts there. Apologies for that.
 

nice gaijin

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Elsewhere in this forum someone recommended the podcast Lexicon Valley, which provides great insight into the development of English and other languages. This particular episode was very interesting, and suggests that if there were to be a "global language" established based on how "simple" or "accessible" it could be (i.e. how easy it would be to learn), it would be Austronesian-based.

 

TGI-ECT

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It seems to me the actuality that creates a global language isn't an actuality based upon the simplicity of the language or any other type of common sense reasoning. As with so many things it was based upon money. The British of some hundreds of years ago had the money and were doing the business stuff in so many areas of the planet where they could make money and pretty much forcing their own language upon the locals. Then there were the folks in North America that came from the British homeland originally and they also started having money; and power that goes with money, and that just improved the power of the language all were using.

If folks had been backing up hundreds of years ago and stating that English was too much this or too much that and there was this or that language that was a better choice for varied cultures and peoples, it might be that English wouldn't be sitting where it is now. Just the power of the money folks did it.

And nahadef .has nailed it ---

I’d say English has the head start that is hard to catch up to, which will be the defining reason it’ll keep being used.

--- and this time it is because of the money and power of the Internet. English is the primary language of the Internet and that is going to nail it and I strongly suspect nail it forever. This Internet business is going to be taking humans to a new level of togetherness that probably most can't even imagine and it will happen with English.

There is also the prior ease of travel that helped the English language gain more strength around the world as the language to speak when out-and-about around the world. You can blame the aviation industry for that and the fact that planes got cheaper to purchase or rent and cheaper to operate and so ticket prices dropped and folks jumped into those planes and headed off to some place where the local population spoke some language that none of the tourists on that plane spoke, but wait --- what's that language that flight steward is using --- oh, that's English. Well, we better study that next time we want to travel and we'll use that, too.

Yep, there are all sorts of very logical reasons why some other language should be the dominate language, but money doesn't always allow the entry of logic. And now I strongly suspect it is too late.
 
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nice gaijin

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Just want to point out that the head-start English has is not because of money, it's because the English colonized much of the planet and forced their language on the lands they conquered. Money is what motivates the colonizers, the colonized weren't given a choice in the matter. Nowadays there are folks who choose to study a second language (like English or Chinese) because it seems like a smart economic choice. I think this is closer to what @TGI-ECT is observing, but it is not the historical reason that English is so widespread today, or why so many people in Africa speak French, German, or some form of Dutch, or why Spanish and Portuguese are the main languages of South America.
 

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The times may be changing but in recent article in the Kodomo Yomiuri (my Japanese is not good enough to read most of the articles in the adult version without a lot of effort) Japan's population is in the 124 millions and the remaining 2.5 million foreigners don't exist. I wrote them a polite email indicating that I don't care to be rendered non-existent but I never got a reply!
Just to add to this, in the end I did get a very friendly email from the newspaper and they even published my opinion in the letters page! They may be a mouthpiece for Abe but credit where credit is due!
 

TGI-ECT

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With respect, nice gaijin, .I have confusion in my mind from what you wrote.

If money was the reason the colonizers were out-and-about, and it was that they were out-and-about (colonizing) and foisting their own native language upon those unfortunate to be the target of the colonizers, then how could it be that money is not the primary factor involved in this equation?

Whether those unfortunates were given a choice or not is secondary to the reason for the colonizers being on the doorstep of the colonized.
 

Deibiddo

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Responding not to OP but the general respondents, English is a lingua franca due to its political and social influence.

To respond to OP, yes but I think Japanese society is becoming more polarised in the accepting/anti-gaijin stance. I think, unfortunately, Japan will become like Qatar and use foreign labour more as a means to service the 'indigenous' population than create an accepting society
 

nice gaijin

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With respect, nice gaijin, .I have confusion in my mind from what you wrote.

If money was the reason the colonizers were out-and-about, and it was that they were out-and-about (colonizing) and foisting their own native language upon those unfortunate to be the target of the colonizers, then how could it be that money is not the primary factor involved in this equation?

Whether those unfortunates were given a choice or not is secondary to the reason for the colonizers being on the doorstep of the colonized.
Wealth is only one motivating factor for colonization. If you shine a light on the subject in one way you can claim that if the concept of money is a driving force behind colonization, and colonization is the main reason reason English is so widespread, that money is the reason English has become the lingua franca... but in doing so you are also ignoring the reasons that the natives themselves learned the language, which were not just for their personal profit. I'm not saying that money wasn't a factor, but if you extrapolate too much you're muffling the oppression experienced by the colonized.
 

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Responding not to OP but the general respondents, English is a lingua franca due to its political and social influence.

To respond to OP, yes but I think Japanese society is becoming more polarised in the accepting/anti-gaijin stance. I think, unfortunately, Japan will become like Qatar and use foreign labour more as a means to service the 'indigenous' population than create an accepting society
I've not seen any polarisation regarding the anti-gaijin stance apart from the very small number of uyoku who protested about the government plans to allow more foreign people to come to work in Japan. Can you give me any other examples? I agree that there are elements of Japan who would like Qatar style immigration, such as that vile woman a few years back who was praising apartheid, but I'm more optimistic. Once you've got your spouse visa (and many foreigners coming to Japan do end up married), or better still, your permanent visa, you're left alone, which I think provides a good environment for more entrepeneurial people to set up their own businesses and start generating wealth.
Vile woman link here.
 

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I've seen a lot! 90% of my Japanese university students were against any immigration at all. To quote one: "If foreigners live in Japan, crime will go up"... this student and many others actually wrote things like that on the course forum. That wasn't an English course either, it was a diversity and inclusion course hahaha. A lot of my adult students at the eikaiwa I work at some are in favour of immigration but only to provide cheap labour like they're sourcing servants instead of citizens. A lot of the ones that would accept immigration unfortunately think like Ms Sono in the article you quoted
"...the 83-year-old writer suggested that while Japan should embrace more foreign immigrants to make up for the labor shortage, they should live apart from mainstream society." Don't forget this is the country that paid nikkei, ethnic Japanese but still 'foreign', to go home Japan Pays Foreign Workers to Go Home, Forever <<<that was only ten years ago! Let's be honest there hasn't been a sudden shift in sentiment

The "public outrage" against Sono refers to "outrage in public" (by a small minority of university staff) though and not 'the general public', as in normal people. I've never seen anyone on TV saying anything about 'pro' about immigrants other than they're needed to do some work. I've never seen anyone famous saying they should be treated equally as humans.

Let's over the news:
2012: 移民受け入れ「断固反対」約半数 J-CAST調べ
2014: Japan's 'no immigration principle' looking as solid as ever | The Japan Times
2017: The three types of people Japan want to move there

'Fast forward' to 2018:
But there was plenty of dissent:

There's still a lot of anti immigrant pieces in the news too
Don't forget this is the country where there's a long running show dedicated to sticking a camera into foreign-looking people's faces and asking them why they're in the country lol

Plus surveys on racism:

I wouldn't say you're 'left alone' once you get permanent residency at all. Who by? Landlords can still easily turn round and refuse you somewhere to live, and they do do that, regularly. Even just the other day, my Japanese girlfriend was trying to get a loan and everywhere asked "Are you Japanese? If you're not Japanese we can't help, sorry." There is absolutely no indication the government or people on the street are going to create a welcoming environment and it will unfortunately eventually end up as self-segregation akin to the 'white flight' in America - it's already happening: Danchi highlight complexity of Japan’s interculturalism | Deep reads from The Japan Times
 

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My goodness, I can't believe I am going to do this, because this is a topic that scares me to no end and for some odd reason I fear making comments in face-to-face or Net discussions.

Discrimination: this has been a topic that I have grown up with in the U.S. of A. and actually had direct experience with because of my family's situation of having to move around in the world and that included various locations in the U.S. of A., because of the Department of Defense influence upon my father's work.

Then, when I was drafted I had to serve on active duty at a time when discrimination was a very serious problem in the U.S. military. I suppose I have lived with a fear of discrimination being around me since I became aware of what the word meant.

I am a white folk, by the way.

I can very honestly state that I don't give a rat's arse if you are white, black, darker than white, lighter than white, green, Jewish, Catholic, no-'lic'-at-all, and anything in between. I am not sure how I got to that stage, but two significantly stupid errors on my part helped and luckily I learned from those mistakes and finally got myself to the 'Are-You-Human' stage of questioning of what might appear to be a human. I am not sure how I would handle meeting one of them Spielberg fella's friends that seem to be from some other planet, but I might have an open mind, if the fright didn't do me in.

That's the background for what I will now offer as an observation after some 45 plus years in various Asian nations.--- there is a whole bunch of nationalistic based discrimination in many nations around Asia. It is not confined to Japan.

But my experience is that it is Asian against Asian discrimination more than it is Asian against white folks. Except for one nation where there was, in my experience many years ago, --- there was an inordinate discriminatory attitude against black folks. It was the darn weirdest thing, to be honest. I mean that nation where there seemed an odd hatred of black folks. Or fear of them that resulted in hatred.

My experience here in Japan is that white folks are held up for esteem in many circles, even in the circles of supposedly educated folks, but when it is other Asian folks they are giving thoughts to there is suddenly this weird lowering of the voice and this sort of odd phrasing of weird questions about trust or other not so cool type thinkings.

I find it a concern in many ways, but I usually keep my thoughts to myself, and I suppose that is simply so I don't become the wart in the room.

Another thing is that I do not see any obvious trends against discrimination within any particular age group. In fact, it seems to be pretty much balanced --- all age groups seem to have this thing against the fair treatment of all other Asian folks. I mean "other" as in Asians not from whatever nation you might be a native of.

And after writing/typing all that and allowing my brain to give deep consideration to the topic --- finally --- I have to state, folks, discrimination is a mighty big problem in Asia, but it is that of Asian against Asian. In most cases.

I still can't believe I am typing this for y'all to read.
 

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Thanks for the thorough reply Deibiddo. I didn't look at all the links you posted, but reading about those TV programmes where the residences of suspected illegal immigrants are raided while TV crews look on was an unpleasant eye-opener. I was probably guilty of extrapolating from my own experiences and those of my friends (admittedly mainly white men married to Japanese women), who are generally content with how we've been treated and not had barriers placed in front of us when renting and even buying homes or many problems with hostility from Japanese people, either personal or institutional. I wasn't trying to be an apologist for Japan and deny that there are problems, I was just recounting my experiences and comparing them with immigrants in the UK, my country, who are facing an increasing number of difficulties. It would be good if other people wrote about their personal experiences so we could get a sample of views.
 

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Don't worry about it, I'm glad you considered the evidence. Let's be honest, there are many nice Japanese people, it's still a liberal democracy with rule-of-law, and they often make great products. On the other hand, there is incontrovertible evidence of a dark side that's left out of all the online articles about manga, anime and now also sports. Sad really
 
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