Q: A recent immigration issue in Japan is controversy over the new immigration law due to take effect in April, which will bring in 345,000 foreigners over five years to work in certain occupations such as construction, food service, and home-visit care for the elderly. What do you see as the pros and cons of the law?
Debito: I’m going to take a wait-and-see attitude on it. The government of Prime Minister Abe, by introducing the new law, is acknowledging the fact that Japan needs to bring in foreign labor. There’s no other way to get around the current demographic crisis; the ageing population plus low birth rate means there aren’t enough people to pay the taxes and do the “dirty work” that most Japanese don’t want to do. But, as usual, it’s arranged so as not to allow these people to settle and invest in Japanese society. Over time, many entrants will surely gain a better understanding and appreciation of Japan, so they should be allowed to make a real contribution to Japanese society for their entire lives if they so choose.
Depriving them of that opportunity because they are essentially seen as temporary labor on revolving-door visas (if longer-term, this time) is basically the same mistake that has been made with the trainee / intern visa system Japan has had for more than two decades now. One wonders if Japan’s ruling elite is ever going to learn its lesson about giving quid pro quo to people who have made their investments into this society. If you stay here, learn the language, pay your taxes, and contribute to the workforce, sooner or later you should be allowed to stay permanently. But that’s not implicitly promised even in these new visas.
There has really never been a true “immigration policy”, one of …continue reading
Japan is a country where creativity and design permeate in every aspect. Utter respect and reverence for the past intertwine with the present and the Japanese devotion to precision, beauty and craft fuses the two. In a country with so much creative genius and so many skilled artisans, it takes great talent to be a successful designer. Here are a few must-know contemporary faces that have had (and continue to have) a major impact on Japan’s architecture.
Kengo Kuma (隈研吾): Bringing traditions to life
Possibly the most significant Japanese contemporary architect, Kengo Kuma continues to push boundaries with his every touch. Known for work that aims to hold on to traditions whilst reinterpreting them for the 21st century, Kuma challenges the process of creation in everything he does.
His first practice, Spatial Design Studio, was founded in 1987, followed in 1990 by Kengo Kuma & Associates that today employs over 150 architects with at least 100 projects on the go at any time around the world.
The Asakusa Culture and Tourism Center in front of Kaminarimon in Asakusa, Tokyo.
As one of the world’s most recognized and lauded architects, his works include the Nagasaki Prefectural Art Museum (2005), a Commune by the Great Wall of China (2002), Tokyo’s Asakusa Culture and Tourism Centre (2012), base camp at Mont Blanc, the Hongkou Soho building in Shanghai, 1550 Alberni Street Westbank in Vancouver, Gare Saint-Denis Pleyel metro station in Paris, the Hans Christian Andersen Museum in Odense, the Museum of Indigenous Knowledge in Manila and the recently opened V&A Museum in Scotland.
Hualien City, …continue reading
Source: Japan Subculture Research Center
by Kaori Shoji
Some men in Japan just don’t seem to get that objectifying women is wrong.
In the land of the rising sun, the objectification of women is not only a thing, it’s a solid tradition and time-honored marketing ploy. Sometimes though, the tables can be turned the other way. This happened when Weekly SPA, a magazine famed for insisting that sex and money are the only things worth striving for, came out with a story in late December about which colleges had the most number of ‘yareru’ (i.e., easily f*ckable) women. Honorable first place went to Jissen Women’s University, followed by other prestigious women’s universities Otsuma and Ferris. Co-ed universities Hosei and Chuo came in 4th and 5th.
Normally, this would have caused a total of zero ripples on the calm surface of Japan’s societal pond (all the scum lurks beneath) but one young woman dared to raise her voice. This is Kazuna Yamamoto, a senior at International Christian University. Yamamoto saw the article and wrote to petition website change.org – that Japan should stop objectifying women, and noted the nation’s women “do not exist [soley] for the benefit of men.” In two days, Yamamoto’s petition amassed close to 30,000 sympathizers.
SPA editor-in-chief Takashi Inukai issued a public apology, saying that ‘yareru’ was in this case, inappropriate. Sorry. What SPA really meant to say, was ‘become on friendly terms with.’ Come on guys, is that the best you could do?
To make matters marginally more demeaning, SPA’s article was really about the practice of ‘gyara nomi,‘ which is a thing among young Japanese. (The ‘gyara’ comes from …continue reading