国際開発ジャーナル


2020.02.27

Triple-winning Expanding Acceptance of Human Resources

Triple-winning Expanding Acceptance of Human Resources -Establishment of a “Basic Act for Foreign Residents” is Necessary
『International Development Journal』 2019 September edition

 

Toshihiro Menju
Managing Director and Chief Program Officer, Japan Center for International Exchange (JCIE)

 

The Government of Japan revised the Immigration Control Act and began accepting foreigners with a new status of residence “specific skills” in April 2019. In the blue-collar field, which has traditionally depended on technical intern trainees and international students, it is the first time that foreigners are accepted for employment. Introducing the views of Toshihiro Menju, Managing Director and Chief Program Officer, of Japan Center for International Exchange (JCIE), regarding future prospects and issues.

 

The new Immigration Law

Until now, the decline in population has been considered a “Japanese national crisis”, but the acceptance of foreigners has been treated with the image of “immigrants = potential criminals”, and neither the country nor the media has taken it up in earnest. The reality is that the population decline is further accelerating. In 2018, the Japan Center for International Exchange established a “Round-table Conference on the Acceptance of Foreign Human Resources” with Mr. Takaji Kunimatsu, the former chairman of the National Police Agency as a co-chair, discussing the issue from a medium- to long-term perspective.
The new Immigration Law, which took effect in April 2019, has decided to accept and create a new status of residence as a specific skill aimed at working in blue collar fields in response to the shortage of manpower. In addition, a special skill No. 2 has been established that allows excellent people to settle down with their family members. These are the right directions to open the way for settlement.
At the end of 2018, the government also announced “Comprehensive measures to accept and coexist with foreign human resources”. This position shows foreign residents as residents, and the government, which has traditionally relied on policies by local governments and NPOs, has been fully involved. As long as the population continues to decline, it will not be temporary, but will last forever.
However, one step ahead should be considered in order for excellent foreigners to become established and play an active role. We are proposing the establishment of a “Basic Act for Foreign Residents”. This law will require foreigners to be positioned as members of society and to clarify the responsibilities of national and local governments for foreigners living in Japan.

 

Foreign residents doubling in 30 years

It is necessary to take a new look at the reality and understand the situation once again with the new government policy. First, I want to think about what happened in the 30 years of Heisei. The number of foreigners residing in Japan was 980,000 in 1989, and nearly 70% were Korean residents in Japan. However, it has now increased to about 2.7 million, and the nationality and status of residence have diversified. This is about 2% of the total population, comparable to that of Hiroshima Prefecture.
However, during this time, the government regarded foreigners as temporary residents, and the response to them has been thrown out by local governments and citizens in a situation that can be said to be a “policy blank”.
It is strange that there are people who have been living in Japan for 10 years who cannot speak Japanese. In the absence of a policy for 30 years, taking Japanese Brazilians as an example, there is a generation that grew up with both Japanese and Portuguese insufficient languages skills called “double limited” generation. There is already the fact that their children have been raised in Japan and are struggling with poor language skills and learning capacity.

 

Regional revitalization with no results

On the other hand, the population of Japan will decrease by about 2.3 million in the 2010s, and by the 2020s it is predicted that the number will decline by 5.5 million, far exceeding the population of Shikoku. The rapid decline in population as the population continues to age, is related to the sustainability of Japanese society, itself. Looking at the population in 2017, the Japanese population decreased by about 400,000, while the number of foreigners increased by about 180,000.
Recently, a mayor in Yamagata Prefecture visited me. Although local promotion measures have been continuing for decades, the decline in local population is only getting worse. Although regional assistance are being poured into the nation by 1 trillion yen a year, the birth rate has not increased and results have not been achieved. I wanted to increase the number of foreign residents, but I was asked to discuss how to increase them.
Once there was a concern that the security would worsen if the number of foreigners increased, but that view is changing 180 degrees. The crime by foreigners peaked in 2005 and has now decreased to about one third.Complementing the absence of government policy so far is a multicultural project by region. There is a certain foundation for accepting foreigners as residents. Many municipalities have more than 20 years of experience.

 

Challenges in Japanese language education

On the other hand, in Korea and Germany, the language education in the country is conducted by the government. In Japan, the Agency for Cultural Affairs is in charge of teaching Japanese to foreigners, but the budget is only about 200 million yen per year.
It is also encouraging that “plain Japanese” is spreading to Japanese society in various places. Foreigners died in the Great East Japan Earthquake due to the mis- communication in Japanese language. It is difficult to understand the Japanese language for “Please evacuate to the hill with difficult Chinese characters”, but it is said that if you “Please evacuate to a high place in plain Japanese”, you could understand and evacuate. Local governments such as Yokohama City are promoting training to teach plain Japanese for employees who deal with foreigners. Companies should also consider introducing plain Japanese. Japanese companies should respond flexibly to accept foreigners, so that excellent human resources can be gathered.
The countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) are also developing their economies, and eventually the scale of the economy will exceed that of Japan. For this reason, there is a high possibility that competition for searching for human resources will intensify in Asia. In order to acquire human resources with diverse abilities, Japan needs to build an internationally competitive acceptance system.
For the time being, inflows of workers from Southeast Asia will continue, but in the 2030s, the number of South Asian and African students will increase. People in Southeast Asia have a high affinity with Japanese society, but the future is at a critical moment. In the meantime, it is important to change the Japanese consciousness and create a social acceptance base.
 

Sending messages to the international community

I think we can make a model in a more positive way in relation to Asia. Unlike traditional one-way international cooperation, in order to realize a sustainable society in developing countries and also Japan together, new triple-win model should be introduced, which will benefit the sending country, Japan and people who are sent from developing country to Japan.
Japanese farmers in particular are now aging with an average age of 67 years old, and the sustainability of rural areas in Japan is jeopardized. I would like to create a model that integrates international cooperation and international exchange by continuously linking specific Japanese rural areas with specific rural areas in developing countries and between them continuous exchange human resources will take place. It is desirable to accept foreign human resources by in the Japanese region as a whole while transferring technology to developing countries. The trainees should have a choice to stay in Japan or return home while they will continue to help their home country by connecting both regions and transferring their experiences to the younger generation. It is recommended that the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) draw and propose such a “triple-win” cooperation model. While Japan’s regional sustainability is at stake, I would like to present such triple win model which is unique to Japan’s interactive international cooperation model.
The opportunity for foreign media coverage has greatly increased as the Japanese government’s policy on accepting foreigners has changed. This is because, while the world is becoming more “anti-immigrants”, the changes in Japan, where they were reluctant to accept immigrants before, are perceived as bright news that brings hope to the world. Changing unpopular and sometimes inhuman technical intern training to a new model should be considered. Then Japan can send a more positive message to the international community with the policy of accepting foreigners under its vision.
Historically Japan has not closed the country and not rejected foreign cultures. Japan, an island country, has developed by accepting different cultures and visitors, and has developed social, cultural and technological innovations based on their wisdom. That is Japanese DNA. I think that accepting foreign cultures and foreigners is what Japan should do.

 

***** 以下、日本語原文 *****

 

トリプルウィンの人材受け入れ拡大を「在留外国人基本法」制定が必要
(公財)日本国際交流センター執行理事 毛受 敏浩

 

日本政府は出入国管理法を改正し、2019 年 4 月 から新たな在留資格「特定技能」による外国人の受け入れを始めた。従来、技能実習生や留学生に依存していたブルーカラーの分野で、就労目的の外国人受け入れは初めてだ。今後の展望と課題について、(公財)日本国際交流センター執行理事の毛受敏浩氏の見解を紹介する。

 

新政策をどう見るか

 これまで人口減少は「日本の国難」といえる状況にありながら、外国人の受け入れについては「移民=犯罪者予備軍」のようなイメージで扱われ、国も、メディアも本格的に取り上げてこなかった。その中で、人口減少はさらに加速しているのが現実だ。日本国際交流センターは2018年、国松元警察庁長官を共同座長に「外国人材の受入れに関する円卓会議」を設置し、中長期の視点から議論し、3月には法務大臣に政策提言を行った。
 2019年4月に施行された新しい入管法では、人手不足に対応し、ブルーカラーの分野で就労を目的とする特定技能という新しい在留資格を作り受け入れることになった。さらに、試験によって優秀な人には家族帯同で定住を認める特定技能2号も設けられた。これらは定住の道をひらく正しい方向だ。
 政府は2018年末、「外国人材の受け入れ・共生のための総合的対応策」も発表した。これは在留外国人を生活者として位置付け、従来、自治体やNPOなどに施策を依存してきた政府も本格的に関与する姿勢を示したものだ。人口減少が続く以上、一時的なものでなく、半永久に続くものとなるだろう。
 しかし、優秀な外国人が定着し、活躍するために一歩先を考えるべきだ。私たちは「在留外国人基本法」の制定を提案している。この法案法では外国人を社会の一員として位置付けるとともに、在留外国人に対する国や自治体の責務を明確化することを求めている。

 

30年で3倍増の外国人在住者

新たな政府の方針を機に、改めて現実を直視し、理解した上でことに当たる必要がある。まず、平成の30年間に何が起きたか考えてみたい。在留外国人は1989年(平成元年)には98万人で、その7割弱は在日コリアンだった。ところが、現在は約270万人に増加し、国籍も在留資格も多様化した。これは全人口の約2%にあたり、広島県の人口に匹敵する。ところが、この間、政府は外国人を一時的な滞在者とみなし、「政策空白」とも言える状況で彼らへの対応は、自治体や市民に丸投げされてきた。
 日本に10年間も住みながら、日本語が話せない人が当たり前にいるが本来おかしなことだ。30年の政策不在の間に、日系ブラジル人を例に言うと、「ダブルリミティッド」といわれる日本語、ポルトガル語のどちらの言語も不十分なままで大人になった世代がいる。すでに彼らの子どもが日本で育ち、現場で苦労している実態がある。

 

結果が出ない地方創生

一方、日本の人口は、2010年代には約230万人減り、2020年代には四国の人口をはるかに超える550万人の減少が予測されている。高齢化が継続する中での人口激減は社会自体の持続性にかかわる。その中で2017年の人口を見ると、日本人の人口は約40万人減った一方、外国人は約18万人増加している実態がある。
 最近、山形県のある市長が訪ねてきた。地方の振興策を何十年も続けたが、地方の人口減少は悪化する一方だという。地方創生には全国で年1兆円も注がれているが、出生率も上がらず、結果が出ない。外国人住民を増やしたいがどうしたら増えるかと相談に来られた。
 かつては外国人が増えれば、治安が悪化すると心配されたが、そんな見方は180度変わりつつある。外国人の犯罪は2005年がピークで現在は三分の一程度にまで減っている。
これまでの政府の政策の不在を補ってきたのは、地域による多文化共生の事業だ。外国人を住民として受け入れる一定の基盤はできている。多くの自治体には20年以上の経験がある。

 

日本語教育の課題

 一方、韓国やドイツでは、その国の言語教育は政府が実施している。日本では文化庁が外国人への日本語教育を担当しているが、予算規模は年2億円程度で微々たるものに過ぎない。また、各地で日本人に対して「やさしい日本語」が広がっている。東日本大震災では外国人も亡くなった。「高台に避難してください」という日本語は理解しにくいが、「たかいところににげてください」だったら理解でき、避難できただろうと言われている。横浜市などの自治体では、外国人対応をする職員向けに、やさしい日本語を教える研修を進めている。企業もやさしい日本語の導入を検討すべきだろう。外国人の受入れのために日本の企業も柔軟に対応すべきであり、そうすれば優秀な人材が集まることになる。
 東南アジア諸国連合(ASEAN)の国々も経済は発展し、いずれ経済規模は日本を上回るが、同時に高齢化も進展している。このため、アジアで人材獲得競争が激化する可能性も高い。多様な能力をもつ人材を得るためにも、日本は国際的に競争力のある受け入れ制度を築く必要がある。
 当面は東南アジアからの働き手の流入が続くが、2030年代になると、南アジア、アフリカ出身者が増えてくるだろう。日本社会にとって東南アジアの人々は親和性が高いが、そこから先が正念場になる。その間に日本人の意識改革と社会的な受入れ基盤を作っておくことが大事になる。

 

国際社会にメッセージ発信を

 アジアとの関係では、もう少し積極的な形でモデルができないだろうかと思う。
 従来の国際協力とは違い、日本と開発途上国の両方に持続可能な社会を実現するため、人の移動を相互的に捉え、その人材と送り出し国、さらに日本との三者が「WIN-WIN-WIN」の関係を築くモデルができないか。
 特に日本の農業者は現在、平均67歳と高齢化しており、農村の持続性が危ぶまれる。日本の農村と開発途上国の特定の農村が継続的に連携し、地域間の国際協力と国際交流とが一体となったモデルを作りたい。外国人材を地域ぐるみで育て、途上国への技術移転を行いながら、日本の地域を担う存在としても受け入れることが望ましい。こうした“トリプルウィン”の協力モデルを国際協力機構(JICA)が描き、提案していくとよい。日本の地方の持続性が危ぶまれる中で、日本独自の双方向性の国際協力モデルを提示したい。
 日本政府の外国人受け入れの方針転換で、外国メディアの取材を受ける機会が格段に増えた。世界が「反移民」の傾向を強める中、移民受け入れに消極的だった日本の変化が世界に希望をもたらす明るいニュースと受け止められているからだ。従来は技能実習が不評だったが、日本として新しいビジョンのもとでの外国人受け入れ政策のメッセージを国際社会に発していくべきだ。
 日本は必ずしも歴史的に国を閉ざして外国の異文化を拒絶してきたわけでない。島国の日本は異文化や渡来人を受け入れることで、彼らのもたらした知恵をもとに、社会や文化、技術のイノベーションを起こして発展してきた。それが日本のDNAである。異文化や外国人の受け入れは日本本来のあるべき姿だと思う。

 

『国際開発ジャーナル』2019年9月号掲載記事
#特集 #移民社会ニッポンへ #Immigration #English