Only a few immigrants live in Japan?

It has long been said that Japan is a very isolated country and its society is composed of almost only Japanese. Do foreign mass media really report the reality on the ground?

There were 2,370,880 immigrants in Japan in June 2016. This number logically includes neither illegal immigrants nor naturalized Japanese. One of the remarkable points of the immigrants to Japan is that over 50 % of them are Chinese (29.4 %) and Korean (19.8 % South Korean and 1.4% North Korean). In addition, there are offices that help Chinese women to temporary marriages with Japanese men to obtain the permanent residence right and find jobs after divorce. These countries take up a decidedly anti-Japan national policy stance.

Another remarkable point is the ‘special permanent resident right’.[1] These resident right holders are Koreans and Taiwanese who had been living in Japan particularly at the end of the Second World War. After Japan’s defeat, Taiwan and Korea seceded from Japan, but some remained in Japan. These Taiwanese and Koreans were given the ‘special permanent resident right’. The holders of this right are allowed to live Japan without naturalizing, and their offspring from generation to generation can obtain the same right regardless of their criminal records or financial capabilities to live in Japan. Their status is foreigners but they are treated like Japanese. Consequently, they are never sent back to Taiwan or South/North Korea even if they are criminals or do not have the financial capabilities to remain/live in Japan. While there are only 1,025 Taiwanese holding this special resident right in 2016, 303,337 South Koreans and 31,826 North Koreans have been reported in the same year.[2] They can very easily obtain the Japanese nationality if they want to. Still, they prefer being/staying Korean. A few opinions against this ‘special permanent resident right’ exist in Japan, but quite many Japanese do not know about this right because any arguments against Koreans living Japan are seemingly taboo in Japan. Therefore, politicians have not taken up this issue. However, this argument has now gradually come to the fore in small circles although more than 70 years have already passed after the war. It is postulated that the ‘special resident right’ is not meaningful anymore, and South Korea in particular has become a strong industrial nation.


[1]iRONNA: Bando, Tadanobu: Nihonjin wa dokomade Okiraku nanoka? [accessed January 27, 2018]

[2] Japanese Government Statistics: Statistics of Japan. [accessed January 27, 2018]

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