Monday, December 27, 2021

Xenophobia Spills Into Japan’s Covid-Era Debate on Immigration




Isabel Reynolds for Bloomberg reports on immigration developments in Japan.  "From a ban on new foreign arrivals to a campaign against efforts to let non-citizens vote, a series of developments in Japan is raising new concerns about xenophobia in Asia’s second-largest economy."

Earlier this week, lawmakers in a Tokyo suburb overruled the local mayor and rejected a bill that would have allowed residents of other nationalities to vote on some issues. Several prominent Liberal Democratic Party legislators had campaigned against the plan, with former Vice Foreign Minister Masahisa Sato warning on Twitter that “80,000 Chinese people” could move to the city and influence its politics.

Last month, the Japanese government initiated new border controls that ban new entries by foreigners due to concerns about the omicron variant of Covid-19.  The U.S. Embassy in Tokyo issued a warning on December 6 about suspected racial profiling of foreigners by local police.

The incidents are feeding worries that Japan is souring on immigration as it approaches a third year of pandemic-driven border closures and economic upheaval. The government’s ban on arrivals by foreigners who lack existing residency status was backed by almost 90% of respondents in one poll. 


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