Japan is the world’s third largest economy accounting for over 9 percent of the world’s economy in 2012. However, Japan is confronting a stagnant economy and an aging population that could cast a shadow on its future development. In the wake of this urgent and ongoing agenda, Japan’s current prime minister, Shinzo Abe, referred to immigration as a solution to this issue in the Japanese Diet on 13 February, 2014. But until now, immigration has not been a familiar topic to Japan and its people. The ratio of immigrants to Japanese is very close to zero—it is the second lowest, next to Mexico, among OECD countries, primarily because the government strictly controls immigration. If Japan does shift its strict immigration policies, what would the consequences be for Japan and its immigrants? What are the obstacles to this transformation?
By Hiroaki Goto