One of my friends passed along this piece about Singapore’s embracing of immigrants to combat the declining birthrate.
Last week, Lee made some remarks about immigration and Singapore’s aging population, indicating that in order to avoid a disastrous population decline, Singapore needs to attract young immigrants to save the economy in the long run:
“At these low birth rates, we will rapidly age and shrink… So we need young immigrants. Otherwise our economy will slow down, like the Japanese economy…. [Young immigrants] will increase our population and talent pool. Singapore will be vibrant and prosperous, not declining and ageing.”
He asked my opinion about the article and asked what the Japanese had against foreigners. The following is based on our exchange.
Telling the Japanese to admit foreigners is the rough equivalent of catching an Aryan Nations rally and telling them to hug a Jew or stop giving black people a hard time. Singapore is and has always been a multicultural country; Japan has never been anything but a monocultural one. Lee Kuan Yew knows that; I’m surprised “Mr. Confucian (Chinese) Values” is now espousing multiculturalism. I guess the Chinese aren’t reproducing the way they used to and it’s up to the Malays and Indians to pop out the puppies to pay taxes to support the geriatric Chinese population.
Japan has always existed on the periphery of empires. Prior to 500 AD while the Chinese had enjoyed 2500 years of civilization, the Japanese were still wearing skins and had missed out on all that culture happening across the sea. From 500-1300AD the country had limited contact with China and immediately adopted Chinese customs – writing, government, and religion (Buddhism). But most of these changes came from “foreign learning” – Japanese traveling abroad, learning, then returning to Japan to pass along the knowledge.
Most of the reason for this was geographic. Japan is quite far away from China and even the straits between Korea and Japan weren’t easily navigable – as the Mongols found out in the 13th and 14th century.
Invasion isn’t all bad: it’s a way of mixing things up. Culture, ideas, and most importantly, people. Until 1945 Japan had never known foreign troops on its soil.
This tends to weird people out in my opinion. You get to believing you really are the descendants of the Sun God Ameterasu. You begin to think you are special, and begin to develop ideas about the superiority of your own culture.
The Japanese did just that. From ca 1400-1625 the Japanese became active traders on the Pacific. They spread Japanese culture as far South as Vietnam and even had outposts there until the 17th century. They began to mingle with other cultures and pick up their ideas – but by that time there was a unique, established political system in place – and the foreign ideas began to cause problems. In the late 1500s the Portuguese appeared, and the shogun walled them off on the islands of Nagasaki. But their religious and political ideas began to spread, and when the Jesuits appeared – along with the Germans, Brits and French, the Japanese regime was terrified that it would become overwhelmed by the vastly culturally superior Europeans.
So the Tokugawa Shogunate cut off all ties to the outside world. They cut loose the Japanese outposts in East and South Asia, forcing hundreds of thousands of Japanese there to fend for themselves. They banned contact with foreigners, making it punishable by death. Any foreigner found on Japanese soil (the Portuguese outpost of Nagasaki notably excluded) was immediately executed. And any Japanese that left Japan could never return. This policy was known as “Sakoku” – isolated country. That situation lasted until 1853 when the American Commodore Perry shelled Yokohama and made the Japanese accept foreign ships at their ports. I think Perry had to shell it a couple of times before the Japanese got it through their top-knotted skulls that he was serious.
Skipping to the modern era, sakoku thinking lives on in Japan today. The Japanese aren’t comfortable with foreigners at all. There is simply no place in their culture for them. It’s difficult for us to relate to this because our nation was built by immigrants, and our national identity for better or worse has been forged in the melting pot. Not so with the Japanese. For 90% of their history they have lived isolated amongst themselves. Some Japanese try to change things, but change is impossible; I learned that the hard way in Japan. Japan beat the liberal right out of me.
Japan will never accept foreigners. It will most likely automate (Japan leads the world in robotics) and eventually fade away. Don’t get me wrong, I love the crazy racist bastards – they are unimaginably interesting to watch – but I don’t think their future is bright. It’s a shame, because they gave us anime, addicting video games, and excellent electronics – not to mention Yukio Mishima, Akira Kurosawa and Zen.
The quickest thing the government could do would be to ban porn and abortion – and get the kids to f*** each other instead of masturbating. But even that may be too little too late. The only long-term solution would be to improve living standards so that people felt they could afford children, but that would require a complete revamp of Japanese politics. Rice cultivation would be outsourced to Thailand and the United States, freeing up farmland outside cities for suburbs with larger homes that could accommodate more than three people. Rice farmers are the most powerful political lobby in Japan – think the NRA without the guns or the AARP but without the palatial headquarters. Maternity care and childbirth is already free, but the government could provide tax incentives that grow with the size of the family: The second child could get twice the tax exemption as the first, and the third child could net the household triple. Companies could also give men paternity leave to help with child rearing. Most Japanese men don’t know how to take care of anyone but themselves; maybe their mothers could teach them.
Whenever Japan is under threat the nation has no problem working together to solve its problems. But as the article by Sovereign Man points out, Japan is simply doing what the United States is: pushing the problem forward upon the next generation. The problem for the Japanese is that the problem of a declining birthrate falls on ever fewer shoulders.