Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Who Let You in Here? ...Japan's diversity and what it may mean.

Something I was a while back but wanted to bring up; there have been a few news stories regarding the level of geopolitical and racial/ethnic diversity of people who are living and mostly working in Japan.  The basic message to take away is that amount people who are not Japanese come to live, work, fart, eat ice cream, whatever, in Japan, as legal resident foreign workers has increased.

It is important to point out that this group of course does not include tourists, students, or people coming over on working holidays, but applications for a permanent residency.  These segments may still be in danger of declining, due to some serious stubbornness of the JPY to at least wave to reality from shore. The JPY to anything else exchange rate has been a bit of a hindrance to Japanese business in international theaters, from exports to tourism, and until the rest of the world gets richer or Japan devalues the Yen, it's gonna stay an issue.
  Exchange Rate is too damn high!
...almost no one is gonna get this reference.
Not like I haven't mentioned it before.
There are also more people overstaying their visas as well.  The article seems to not go into a high amount of detail regarding the type of overstay, such as a student or tourist that takes an extra day or two, versus someone who decides that this decade they are totally gonna get around to that immigration status thing they're sure of if, or even the "you're not really Japanese" surprise deportation

However, the news is basically that Japan has more foreign born residents living and working there than ever before, and that is significant, not only because of the numbers themselves, but the fact that this phenomenon is credited to government efforts to make it so.  While the country's economy is huge, what most people (including economists) would consider "diversity" has been close to nonexistent when compared to North America or Europe... even China is difficult to compare because within China there is a profound cleavage of different ethnic groups which comes from the massive geographical footprint the country has.  It's big... China is a big place is what I am saying. 

The question that really matters is, will they stay in enough quantities to be significant?  That's hard to tell.  If the past two Miss Japan pageants are any indication, then the answer not only seems to be yes, but also seems to be that social acceptance of such things will also increase as well.  But no don't pop the cork on the Champagne just yet... actually, put it back in the cellar, it's going to be a while.
It's actually progress considering what happened in 2015 when you think about it

Assholes not withstanding, the fact that this has happened is a big deal.  Foreign workers have been in Japan for decades,and often have found that unless you're some sort of finance hot-shot (read: white male), you can often get treated like total crap.  Remember this poor bastard from 17 years ago?  Well he ended up staying and now Japanese High School boys are dating his "hafu" daughter. 

But the difference now there is now an official position from Japanese government institutions on the matter and that position is explicit.  You know how often Japanese institutions do things explicitly, yeah it starts with "almost" and ends with "never" genius.  A government realization that the place isn't going to stick around if Japan runs out of people is finally being accepted in certain areas, so they're going to have to import a bunch of humans who aren't over 70 years old (and you people thought robots were gonna happen).  While racism and classicist ideologies will continue to be entrenched in Japan just like everywhere else and not go away just because, with this action by the government itself is a step in the opposite direction of such ideals, and now a necessity due to Japan's serious aging problem... Remember when I brought this up before...  of course you don't.

Now you may ask yourself "so the fuck what, what does this have to do with the next issue of Shonen Jump or whatever the crap I am gonna illegally download a scanlation of and not just buy like a normal customer" or something to that effect.  Well, guess who now is going to make up a portion of actual paying customers.  Them there fah-rin-ars livin' over in that J-pan.  So what we will see is a slow, gradual acceptance of themes that have a bit of a wider appeal, but are still inherently Japanese.  Remember that Galapagos Effect that I was...oh fuck it I know you don't. Well this has the serious potential to push it in the other direction.  Where does human migration/immigration/people showing up places manifest more quickly or integrate more thoroughly than popular culture?  The correct answer is food, but popular culture comes in a strong second.  So this trend, if continued, is actually going to make a difference in the the typed of entertainment products that companies are willing to invest in. 

The mistake people reading this might make, is that I am insinuating is that such an influence will create new works at the expense of others, and that somehow Naruto or Sazae-san is going to go away forever in favor of "Brazil Philippine Soccer Buster Wars, the French Edition" or something like that.  While it could be argued that something like shelf-space or artists are a finite resource, what this means is more likely that something new will be created where there was nothing like it before.  Is this a marker for that possibility?  Could be.

Stay tuned for Part 2.  The other side of the coin.

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