CAN IMMIGRANTS BE BIG IN JAPAN?

CAN IMMIGRANTS BE BIG IN JAPAN?

Japan is running out of something important: people. Low birth rates have caused the population to shrink for almost a decade, causing labor shortages in some parts of the the economy. As a prominent Japanese financier once told me, gazing out at Mount Fuji from his skyscraper office in Tokyo, “Japan makes many, many things – and unfortunately, babies are no longer one of those things.”


But Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who recently won a third term in office, has a solution: let in more immigrants. His party is preparing to unveil a proposal that would grant work visas to as many as 500,000 more foreign workers over the next half decade, allowing high-skilled workers to bring their families with them as well. These immigrants would come to do jobs in specific sectors such as agriculture, construction, healthcare and hospitality, and they would not be granted residency.

The plan is a controversial one. For one thing, Japanese labor organizations are worried about foreigners driving down wages. But there is also a broader cultural and political challenge.

Japan is one of the most ethnically homogenous countries on earth. Foreign-born residents make up just 2 percent of the population, and although that number has risen in recent years, it’s still far lower than in Europe or the US where 10-15 percent of the population hails from abroad. What’s more, a majority of Japanese like it that way: close to 60 percent of Japanese think that diversity makes a country worse off, according to a 2017 poll.

Opening up to more foreigners carries a distinct political risk. Japan, almost uniquely among the large democracies, has had no problem with disruptive right-wing populism in recent years. Relatively low-income inequality is surely one reason for that, as is Prime Minister Abe’s own nationalist and anti-elitist streak (Steve Bannon openly admires him), which leaves little room for upstarts from the fringes. But a major reason is also that Japan has so few immigrants – a group universally targeted by successful right-wing political movements elsewhere in the developed world.

Prime Minister Abe therefore has a tricky task ahead of him. At a time when anti-immigrant backlashes have reshaped politics in so many other large democracies he must try to balance the needs of Japan’s economy with the sensitivities of its society

Emily Ademola lives in an area of Nigeria that has been attacked by Boko Haram militants in the past. Looking for water was very risky, and without access to water, the community – especially children – were at risk of waterborne diseases. Eni, in partnership with FAO, built a water well in Emily's community in 2019.

Watch Emily's first-hand account about how access to water "close to our doorsteps" has improved the quality of life for her community and her family.

There's never a great time to impose higher taxes on funeral services — but doing it in the middle of a raging pandemic is an especially bad move. Yet that was one of a number of measures that the Colombian government proposed last week in a controversial new tax bill that has provoked the country's largest and most violent protests in decades.

In the days since, the finance minister has resigned, the tax reform has been pulled, and President Iván Duque has called for fresh dialogue with activists, union leaders, and opposition politicians.

But demonstrations, vandalism, and deadly clashes with police have only intensified. Two dozen people are dead, 40 are missing, and the UN has criticized Colombian police for their heavy-handed response.

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While residents of wealthy countries are getting ready for hot vaxxed summer — COVID is still ravaging many low- and middle-income countries. The horrifying scenes coming out of India in recent weeks have gripped the world, causing governments and civil society to quickly mobilize and pledge support.

But on the other side of the globe, Brazil is also being pummeled by the pandemic — and has been for a year now. Yet thus far, the outpouring of aid and (solidarity) hasn't been as large.

What explains the global alarm at India's situation, and seeming passivity towards Brazil's plight? What are the politics of compassion?

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10: Joshua Wong was sentenced along with other Hong Kong democracy activists to 10 months in prison for participating in a vigil last year marking the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre in Beijing. Wong is currently behind bars for participating in separate pro-democracy protests, and will only start this new sentence after that term concludes in November.

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What's the biggest foreign policy misconception that Americans have about the US's role in the world? According to international relations expert Tom Nichols, too few Americans believe that the US, in fact, has a critical role in the world, and that the things Americans enjoy, from cheap goods to safe streets, are made possible because of American global leadership. "Americans have become so spoiled and inured to the idea that the world is a dangerous place that they don't understand that the seas are navigable because someone makes them that way. They don't understand that peace between the great powers is not simply like the weather, that just happens," Nichols tells Ian Bremmer. Their conversation is featured on an episode of GZERO World, airing on US public television – check local listings.

Watch the episode: Make politics "boring" again: Joe Biden's first 100 Days

The cover story of The Economist declares that Taiwan is "The most dangerous place on Earth," because China might finally be ready to plan an invasion of the island. But are the consequences of such a move worth the many risks to China and its President Xi Jinping? Ian Bremmer breaks out the Red Pen to to explain why a US-China war over Taiwan is unlikely.

We are taking our red pen to a recent article from The Economist. The Economist, you ask, how could I? I love The Economist, I know, I know. But you'd lose respect if I give this piece a pass. In fact, it was the magazine's cover story this week, so I had no choice. The image and headline say it all. Here it is, Taiwan is now "the most dangerous place on earth" as US/China relations continue to sour in the opening months of President Biden's administration.

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Delhi-based reporter Barkha Dutt's decades of journalism couldn't prepare her for the horrific experience of covering the death of one specific COVID-19 victim: her own father. In a conversation with Ian Bremmer, Dutt recounts her desperate struggle to find an ambulance to take her father through Delhi traffic to reach the hospital, only for him to die in the ICU. Their in-depth discussion looks at India's struggle with the world's worst COVID crisis in the upcoming episode of GZERO World begins airing on US public television Friday, May 7. Check local listings.

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Would China really invade Taiwan?

The Red Pen

India’s COVID crisis hits home

GZERO World Clips
The GZERO World Podcast with Ian Bremmer. Listen now.

GZEROMEDIA

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter: Signal