Japan’s Contrary Move On Immigration

Japan zigs (liberalizing) while the U.S. and Europe zag (restricting) on immigration.

Interestingly Japan recognizes that immigration can move the needle on growth and is moving to finally liberalize its policies.    There are three main factors that drive economic growth:

  • Accumulation of capital stock
  • Increases in labor inputs, such as workers or hours worked
  • Technological advancement

One of the considerations that drove Angela Merkel’s liberal immigration policy, which has torn Europe apart politically.

TOKYO — Japan’s parliament passed a bill early Saturday morning that will create a new foreign worker program to help address labor shortages, opening the country’s doors to blue-collar laborers in a major policy shift. 

…The Japanese government, which has long remained cautious about accepting foreign workers, was swayed by a business sector contending with severe labor shortages. As opposition parties have pointed out, however, challenges remain, such as ensuring decent working conditions and providing adequate language training to ensure that the country can continue to attract foreign talent.

…But the question remains whether Japan’s wages can attract workers from Asia, given that most jobs covered by the new immigration system are relatively low-wage.

Japan’s wages are not much higher than those of rivals in the region. Low-skilled factory workers in Tokyo make about $2,406 per month compared with $1,992 in Hong Kong and $1,630 in Singapore.

The government is calling on employers to pay foreign personnel at least the same as Japanese citizens. Concern persists that adding more workers from overseas will lower wage levels in the country. Experts also warn that most workers will seek jobs in Tokyo and other large cities rather than rural areas, where labor is most short.  – Nikkei Asian Review

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