Immigrant Performance under the Strict Selective Immigration Policy in Japan

Author Name LIU Yang (Fellow, RIETI) / HAGIWARA Risa (Meikai University)
Creation Date/NO. March 2021 21-P-008
Research Project Empirical studies on issues of foreign employment and technology progress in a society with a persistent labor shortage
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For several decades, Japanese immigration policy has been open to high- skilled foreigners, while refusing to allow any low-skilled foreign laborers to live permanently in Japan, except nikkeijin, meaning Japanese migrants and their descendant from outside Japan, and Japanese familial immigrants. This strict selective immigration policy may have avoided some problems caused by immigration. However, it is unknown whether those selected immigrants really thrive in the host country of Japan. To tackle this issue, this study uses large-scale data from the Population Census, examining the working and living situation of foreign residents in Japan. In particular, it concentrates on their human capital, labor market performance, marital status, fertility, and child-raising issues, as well as their household situation, for different categories of living period, education level, birth-country, and household scale. Among the results, it is found that unemployment rate is higher for permanent foreign residents than the native Japanese population, and the rate of permanent employment, (seishain in Japanese), is lower for foreign residents than natives, even though a larger proportion of foreign residents are post-secondary educated and engaged in high- skilled jobs, compared to natives. Further, almost all permanent foreign residents come from countries that have a higher fertility rate than Japan, however, their marriage rates and fertility rates in the country are lower than Japanese natives. Those labor-market and family results may be the reason for the small actual number of highly skilled foreigners and their low retention rate in Japan, as they can hardly expect a promising future in Japan even though Japanese immigration authorities are quite open to them. The result of the study indicates that employment and lifestyle support are necessary for foreign residents in Japan, despite the fact that candidates were selected through a strict immigration policy and were expected not to experience immigration problems.