Japan Will Not Be Saved Through Immigration

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.

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  1. Watcher of Weasels » Watcher’s Council Nominations – State Of The Union Edition:

    [...] The Razor – Japan Will Not Be Saved Through Immigration [...]

  2. » Watcher’s Council Nominations – State Of The Union Edition NoisyRoom.net: The Progressive Hunter:

    [...] The Razor – Japan Will Not Be Saved Through Immigration [...]

  3. Bookworm Room » It’s all about me, me, me (and the Watcher’s Council):

    [...] The Razor – Japan Will Not Be Saved Through Immigration [...]

  4. Random Blowhard:

    The problem is economic not social. If YOU cannot afford to start or raise a family then you won’t. Unemployment in Japan is THE CAUSE of the population crash just as it is in most Western countries. Until that is solved, nothing will change.

  5. Scott Kirwin:

    The roots of the under-employment are social. The official unemployment rate is low, but what isn’t being reported is the number of “free-ta”s, lower paid contract workers who don’t have the benefits that salaried employees have. This only exacerbates the problem, since contract workers have less money to afford a family.

    Abortion is commonplace in Japan and there is no religious prohibition against it. There are even Shinto and Buddhist shrines devoted to the “mizu-ko” – aborted “water children”. One reason abortion is so common is that Japan has one of the most unfriendly societies towards children on the planet.

    It is also one reason why after our son was born there, we left. It is simply a terrible place to raise a family.

  6. Watcher of Weasels » The Council Has Spoken!:

    [...] Our winner this week, The Razor, took a look at an interesting problem in East Asia’s most prosperous societies that it shares with Russia and much of Western Europe – a low birth rate among the native population. Some of these Asian societies have a built in animus towards migrants settling there, and the Razor came up with a fascinating look at Japanese culture to tell us why he feels Japan Will Not Be Saved Through Immigration: [...]

  7. » The Council Has Spoken! 01/28/11 NoisyRoom.net: The Progressive Hunter:

    [...] there, and the Razor came up with a fascinating look at Japanese culture to tell us why he feels Japan Will Not Be Saved Through Immigration: …the Tokugawa Shogunate cut off all ties to the outside world. They cut loose the Japanese [...]

  8. K:

    Japan is experiencing a huge population decrease. Schools are closing, housing prices are declining. So what? Just because the west has rigged economic metrics such that “big is always better” doesn’t mean that the quality of life is suffering. In a crowded country like Japan less people means more open land, lower cost of living and in the long run more freedom. Apparently economic forecastors think countries should continue to overpopulate themselves until they sink of their own weight. At some point in the future the population will again begin to rise and the economists will jump up and down because the GDP will increase. This is a FAIL on a number of levels and is one of the reasons the US can’t even control it’s borders and fears the day that the social spending ponzi scheme comes due.

  9. Scott Kirwin:

    The problem with your solution is getting there – the demographic skew: there will soon be more elderly people consuming services instead of paying the taxes to support them. Japan has plenty of room for its citizens, but instead of using the land for decent sized living spaces they grow rice. Imagine growing corn in Connecticut or wheat inside the Beltway: the farms reduce the supply of land driving the remainder up.
    The US doesn’t have either of these problems, although parts of Europe do. The problem we do have is a politically powerful wealthy elite controlling government policies. Seeing Jeffrey Immelt – a man who outsourced or destroyed 30,000 American jobs – named as an administration adviser on Jobs is an example of this. I suppose it could have been worse: the Administration could have named Iranian president Ahmadinejad as an adviser on Jewish affairs.

  10. Bookworm Room » Watcher’Council winners for 1/28/2011:

    [...] First place with 2 2/3 votes! – The Razor—Japan Will Not Be Saved Through Immigration [...]

  11. The Council Has Spoken!:

    [...] has announced its winners for last week. First place in the Council category was The Razor’s Japan Will Not Be Saved Through Immigration. If you know much of anything about Japan you’re probably already aware of [...]

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