[Provisional translation]

Recommendations of Overseas Emigration Council
Future Policy Regarding Cooperation with Overseas Communities of Nikkei

December 11, 2000


Migration of Japanese people started with migration to Hawaii in the first year of the Meiji era (1868) and has a more than 130-year long history. The total of the migrant population is approximately 1.04 million: around 780,000 people emigrated before World War II, and about 260,000 emigrated after the war.

Figures in our 1993 recommendation indicated that the Nikkei people are estimated to reach approximately 2.5 million in the Americas with around 1.3 million in Brazil and 1 million in the United States.

In their adopted countries, Nikkei people have (a) actively participated in the fields of politics, economics, administration, academia and culture; (b) made active and positive contributions to economic and social development for which they have received individual recognition; (c) and they have played an important role in promoting mutual understanding and progress in the friendly relationships between Japan and their adopted countries.

With the passage of time, the communities of Nikkei people have evolved and assimilated into the broader societies in which they live, and the second and fourth generations have become nuclei of the communities. While there has been an increase in the number of Nikkei who do not hold Japanese nationality or speak the Japanese language, there is a "new first generation" of Japanese migrants who have technical skills and skills in other areas as well as other skilled migrants who work actively in academic circles in the United States and other countries.

Calls for information exchanges among the Nikkei have increased. Our 1993 recommendation stated that the number of Nikkei who were working in Japan exceeded 150,000. The recommendation also recommended policy measures to tackle the difficulties that they face. The need for such measures has increased as Nikkei continue to work in Japan.

This Council was established in 1955 and the linkage between "International Cooperation" and assistance for emigrants appeared for the first time in its 1960 report to the prime minister.

The 1962 report developed the concept that, "migration should be regarded as not merely a transfer of labor, but a transfer of development abilities to the adopted countries." And that, "It should contribute to the development abilities of the adopted country, thus benefiting the welfare of the world, allowing Japan and the Japanese people to be highly appraised internationally."

The 1985 recommendation stated that "the Government, addressing the issue of Nikkei people, primarily the post-World War II Nikkei people in Latin America, proposed, for the first time, cooperation with Nikkei people, given the fact that post-World War II Nikkei people and their children have contributed to the communities of their adopted countries, and also to promote mutual understanding and the cultivation and development of close friendly relations between Japan and their adopted countries, the recommendation concluded that it was imperative to support their activities.

In the 1993 report, it was stated that the gradual closure of work related to the dispatch of emigrants through government aid would be desirable. At the same time, this report pointed out various issues concerning communities of Nikkei people, and raised the following considerations with regard to the orientation of future policies: (a) Although emigration projects have heretofore been aimed at the emigrants themselves, it is both necessary and appropriate to extend them at least as far as the third generation of Nikkei people, with a view to supporting the emigrants; (b) Supporting Nikkei people and nurture them as persons with deep understanding of Japan in their adopted country would contribute to the promotion of friendly bilateral relations between Japan and the country in question; (c) Improving the status and abilities of Nikkei people will be conducive to development in the adopted country; and (d) Generally, the existence of Nikkei people contributes to the strengthening and enhancement of the diplomatic basis between Japan and the adopted country.

As we prepare to greet the 21st century, the Council is of the view that it must shift its focus away from the support of former emigrants, and work to actively build modalities for relations and cooperation between Japan and communities of Nikkei people as a priority for Japan's foreign policy, and establish a basic philosophy. Based on this awareness, since last year the Council has held discussions and reviews in which it has listened to the opinions of various concerned parties, including representatives from various regions who attended the Convention of Nikkei and Japanese Abroad (Annual Meeting of Nikkei people held in Tokyo hosted by the Association of Nikkei and Japanese Abroad).

This recommendation, entitled "Future Policies regarding Cooperation with the Overseas Communities of Nikkei," while based on the 1993 recommendation, aims to further develop specific measures and the philosophy underlying them, and to outline the orientation of Japan's future policies in this regard.

With the reorganization of the central ministries and agencies, which will take place in January 2001, the Council is scheduled to be reorganized into the Council on the Movement of People Across Borders in order to make it more relevant to the present day. Therefore, this will be the final recommendation compiled by the Overseas Emigration Council. It is hoped that the government will value the contents of this recommendation highly in the promotion of future international exchange.

1. Basic Approach to the Modality of Future Cooperation with Overseas Communities of Nikkei

(1) Basic Concepts

Japan's basic diplomatic policy is stipulated in the revised law establishing of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that is to come into effect in January of 2001 as "contributing to the maintenance of a peaceful and stable international society, creating a favorable international environment through positive and assertive measures, and maintaining and developing harmonious external relations while promoting the interests of Japan and the Japanese people in international society."

Japan seeks to deepen mutual understanding and friendly relations with other countries through economic and technical cooperation, personal exchanges, human resources development, public relations and cultural activities, and to secure international peace and security while promoting the interests of Japan and the Japanese people.

Regardless of their ability to speak Japanese, or whether they hold Japanese nationality, overseas Nikkei are in a position to understand both their countries of residence and Japan and they can serve as "bridges" between their countries of residence and Japan. There have even been discussions on creating networks linking overseas Nikkei communities. The noted activities of these people in their countries of residence are either a tangible or an intangible asset to Japan.

At the same time, assimilation into and contribution to their local communities is important for communities of Nikkei. However, while they are being assimilated and contributing to their local communities, Nikkei are beginning to feel concerned that if they do not make efforts to maintain their bonds to Japan those bonds will disappear. In addition, desires to study the Japanese language and Japanese culture, to confirm their Japanese roots and to seek out positively their bonds with Japan are emerging amongst overseas Nikkei.

Responding to these hopes will lead to even greater contributions by Nikkei to their local communities, and so Japan should make positive contributions toward this end.

In addition, skilled and capable Japanese active in various fields in foreign countries, including the so-called new first generation referred to above, are a new form of bridge. The advice that these people can give, based upon their experiences living overseas, and their expectations for Japan are valuable and should be taken note of.

Accordingly, it is important for Japan to take into consideration the requests and hopes of Nikkei people and the provision of cooperation and support, in line with their needs, will serve to enhance the status of overseas communities of Nikkei people as well as enhance understanding of Japan among local residents and improve the image of Japan.

Based on this perception, it is therefore desirable that cooperation between Japanese people and Nikkei people can be given positive and clear significance in Japan's foreign policy, and measures in the various areas should be promoted.

(2) Points of Consideration

It is essential to respond carefully and individually with due consideration to the differences in background and features of the formation of overseas communities of Nikkei people in order to promote further cooperation between Japan and those communities. In addition, the fact that there are considerable differences in consciousness among different regions and generations must be considered. The relationship between Japan and overseas communities of Nikkei people must be one of reciprocal cooperation based on needs, and an awareness of shifting from "support" to "cooperation" is vital.

Furthermore, in responding to the longing of Nikkei for ethnic identity, consideration should be given to the area of cultural exchange, such as Japanese language education, which can play an important role as a bond between Nikkei and Japan.

Ten years since the revisions of the "Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act" in 1990, the issues facing Nikkei working in Japan and their families have become increasingly diversified. As economic and social globalization progresses, Japanese society must become a place of coexistence where foreigners can live equally. As Japan faces a period of shrinking population because of declining birth rates and an aging population, the presence of Nikkei living in Japan can serve as a model of globalization.

When discussing future cooperation with overseas communities of Nikkei, efforts to resolve issues remaining from overseas emigration projects in the 20th century should not be disregarded. We must not forget the support that Japan received through Licensed Agency for Relief of Asia (LARA) goods from overseas Nikkei communities during the post-war period of devastation, as well as the sincere support Japan received from overseas communities of Nikkei people following the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake that took place in 1995.

As a country that has dispatched numerous emigrants through government support, it goes without saying that Japan should continue support that corresponds to the changing needs of overseas communities of Nikkei people. Even greater efforts must be concentrated concerning social welfare issues arising from the aging of emigrants and support to persons to whom self-help efforts do not extend. In addition, the government must also assume a role in positive efforts in public relations and education to deepen accurate understanding among the Japanese people of the history of overseas emigration and the current status of overseas Japanese descendants communities.

2. Specific Policies toward the Future

(1) Support Measures for Emigrants

(a) Elderly Emigrants Welfare

Overseas communities of Nikkei people in North and South Americas are requesting for the application of Japanese social welfare systems to permanent residents in foreign countries such as the "The Law Concerning the Relief for the Atomic Bomb Exposed" and pensions for the elderly. The issue of atomic air raid victims is based on a historical experience that is unique to Japan, and Nikkei people living in other countries cannot rely upon the relief of their countries of residence. A policy of support to Nikkei people who are atomic air raid victims and who live overseas should be considered immediately, in light of the repeated calls from emigrants at the Convention of Nikkei and Japanese Abroad, and the advancing age of atomic air raid victims.

Permanent residents in foreign countries are ineligible under current law to receive old-age pensions, but under the current national pension system, upon entering the system voluntarily and making certain contributions, residents of foreign countries that are Japanese nationals can receive benefits from the old-age base pension. It is necessary to continue to publicize this information to overseas communities of Nikkei people.

The international trend is that social welfare for the elderly should be provided by the country of residence. However, with respect to emigrants that require daily support and medical assistance, especially elder emigrants, the content of the social welfare system in their countries of residence does not always meet the levels of such systems prevailing in Japan. In other words, their countries of residence cannot provide the same level of social security services as Japan. Consequently, it is necessary from the perspective of supplementing the limits of social security systems in such countries to further expand a protection system that provides an honorarium to assist organizations such as Nikkei people's organizations. In addition, support for human resources development is also needed in the area of social welfare, including issues concerning nursing care.

(b) Continuation of Necessary Support Measures

Over time, communities of Nikkei people have developed and achieved a stage of general assimilation and stability, but there are some regions that face agricultural problems and problems resulting from natural disasters that they cannot overcome through self-help efforts. It is necessary for the government to continue to implement necessary support measures to such regions.

It is necessary, in addition to the development of facilities in emigrant regions by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), to develop new technologies and provide agricultural guidance in cooperation with Japan's Agricultural Cooperative Society as a form of support to farmers of Nikkei people, in order to contribute to the further development of overseas Nikkei agricultural communities.

In addition, it is necessary to provide persons who do not have adequate ability in understanding the language of their country of residence with information in Japanese to assist them to tackle varied problems in their daily lives.

(c) Promoting Understanding among the People of Japan, Public Relations, and Cooperation in Academic Research Concerning Emigration and Overseas Communities of Nikkei people

It must not be forgotten that the sacrifices and efforts made by emigrants, who left Japan for a different climate and culture with a view to establish a new life, form the basis of development of today's overseas Nikkei communities. The diligence and various contributions of emigrants to their local communities garner trust in their countries of residence, and as a result of the passion for the education of their children, Nikkei people are active in various areas of their local communities and are contributing to local development. This is something of which we, as Japanese, can be proud. However, at the same time we cannot deny the fact that there is, regrettably, a lack of accurate understanding about the history of emigration and of the current circumstances of overseas Japanese communities of Nikkei people.

If an archive of emigration where the hearts of Nikkei people visiting their home country can be healed and they can confirm their pride as pioneers is established, it will serve to strengthen the bonds between Nikkei people and Japan. In addition, communicating accurate information and knowledge to the Japanese people about the history of emigration and the current status of overseas Nikkei communities would engender respect on the part of the Japanese people for the sacrifices and efforts made by emigrants. These roles, too, are the duty of the Japanese government that supported their emigration.

In order to promote understanding of emigration both in Japan and overseas, it is essential that the history of emigration be evaluated properly, valuable records be preserved and stored, and those records organized in an archive of emigration with a view to make this information available to Nikkei and researchers on emigration around the world.

Efforts such as these will encourage Nikkei as persons who understand Japan well and stimulate interaction between overseas Nikkei communities and Japan, as well as among different overseas Nikkei communities, and contribute to the establishment of a network that will enable exchanges of information.

(2) Support for Maintaining/Promoting the Ties between Japan and Overseas Communities of Nikkei people

It is important that we promote cooperation with Nikkei people by making use of a variety of schemes in various areas, including Japanese language education, cultural exchanges, information provision, and human exchanges.

In implementing such cooperation, the utilization of private organizations referred to in the 1995 February cabinet decision entitled "Organization and Streamlining of Special Legal Entities" should be actively promoted.

(a) Japanese Language Education

Collaborations among various related organizations and the formulation of a comprehensive policy with respect to overseas Japanese language education and the promotion of the Japanese language are essential. Consideration should be given to gradually shifting the Japanese language education support programs that were conducted in the past by JICA as a part of the support for emigrants to the program of the Japan Foundation from the viewpoint of Japanese as a foreign language education. It will be necessary in such an event to take budgetary and personnel measures for the Japan Foundation, and to create the structures necessary for implementation of the project.

It is also necessary, in light of local needs, to continue to develop educational materials and methods, provide support to international bilingual schools, and cooperate with local Japanese mass media, as well as to continue training Japanese language instructors from among local populations, based on effective Japanese language teaching methods.

In addition, from the perspective of enhancing the benefits of Japanese language education, the employment of Nikkei with Japanese language skills should be promoted in both Japan and their countries of residence. Efforts by the government are needed to obtain the understanding and cooperation of the business community in order to achieve this end.

There are some Nikkei who also hold Japanese nationality, but it is imperative to give consideration to the living environments of such people without regard for their nationality, especially with regard to youth. It is important that Nikkei, who do not hold Japanese nationality, are not at a disadvantage in areas, such as scholarship for study in Japan.

(b) Public Relations (PR) and Culture

In order that the Nikkei are able to perform their part successfully as a bridge between Japan and the country they are living in, Japan should keep on providing them with up to date news about Japan. By doing so, the Nikkei, especially those who have great interest in Japan, will be able to display their outstanding abilities in disseminating information.

It is also of vital importance to establish a network to link information centers of embassies and consulate-generals and Japan Foundation's overseas offices with overseas communities of Nikkei people. The use of the Internet for this purpose offers great potential. We have received requests on PR and cultural exchange from Nikkei communities to include information on contemporary Japan, youth culture and subcultures, besides traditional art and culture, such as tea ceremony, flower arrangement and haiku. Such needs should be responded to.

(c) Promotion of Wide-ranging Personnel Exchange with Overseas Communities of Nikkei people

Japan should, by reinforcing collaboration of the public and private sectors as well as local governments, promote expansion and consolidation of projects for inviting people from overseas. One of the successful examples is the JET (Japan Exchange and Teaching) Program under which young people from abroad are invited as either Coordinator of International Relations (C.I.R.) or Assistant Language Teacher (A.L.T.). Assessing the great significance the program has offered to exchanges with other countries, it is worth considering the promotion of young Nikkei taking part in the program as well as the establishment of some new program that would make use of their linguistic ability.

Efforts must also be made to expand JICA's Overseas Community Youth and Senior Volunteer Program, which sends volunteers from Japan to contribute to the development of the Latin American region and the communities of Nikkei people therein.

(3) Cooperation in the Areas of Development, Economic and Technical Cooperation

Cooperation in the following areas is to be promoted. The Official Development Assistance (ODA) should be thoroughly utilized in regions, such as Latin America. At the same time, Japan should always bear in mind to cultivate the capabilities of the Nikkei with a view to achieve the best results from ODA.

(a) Development of Human Resources

To promote the position and ability of the Nikkei will be a contribution to the countries they live in, and, at the same time, it will improve the position of Japan in the international society strengthening its diplomatic foundation. It is therefore required to continue assisting the development of human resources who will shoulder the future generations of the overseas Nikkei communities. In particular, JICA's human resources development project, consisting of a Nikkei trainee program, which aims at disseminating techniques and knowledge to develop their region, and a scholarship support program for those studying in graduate schools in Japan, needs to be promoted.

The possibility of establishing a fund for human resources development that utilizes private resources should be considered. In this way, it is essential to develop and strengthen the system of collaboration in human resources development of overseas Nikkei through cooperation and collaboration among the public and private sectors and local governments.

(b) Economic and Technical Cooperation

The economic and technical cooperation extended by Japan is undergoing substantial change and expansion both, in quality and quantity. The simple domain of technical transfer has evolved into intellectual assistance and policy-making assistance. Moreover, promotion of the Nikkei with a high level of technical capability to the important positions that are responsible for international cooperation will contribute to further widening the range of economic and technical cooperation, as well as for improving our mobility.

For instance, the assignment of Nikkei to other developing countries as Japanese experts will promote the efficiency of Japan's technical cooperation. Based upon the results obtained from JICA's feasibility studies on the utilization of Nikkei as human resources Japan should develop a system of cooperation and collaboration for the Nikkei to support the experts and research groups dispatched from our country.

Furthermore, cooperation in the areas of medical care, welfare, health, especially educational support for doctors and lawyers of Nikkei who are able to speak Japanese, and provision of information on these experts will be a great asset for the Japanese communities around the world that have expanded over time. Stronger reciprocal ties may be formed between the Japanese residing in the foreign country for long periods, such as business people, and the Nikkei community therein, through organizing human resources and by information provision.

(c) Cooperation in National or International Projects Beneficial to Overseas Communities of Nikkei

In order to improve the Nikkei community it is essential that the adopted country as a whole develops and prospers. The development of the Nikkei community should be considered within the context of progress toward the globalization of the world's economy and society. Japan's assistance to Nikkei should not be limited to the adopted country, as it used to be. There are projects in South America for an international highway network and an export corridor between the Pacific and the Atlantic. Japan should consider the possibilities of cooperating with such projects of national or continental scale and projects that help to strengthen the relationship between South America and Asia by selecting an appropriate scheme and bearing in mind the benefits to the Nikkei communities.

(d) Enterprise and Business Cooperation

The establishment of an attractive Japanese global network is called for in order to facilitate the availability of useful business information to the Japanese and Nikkei residing in non-ODA regions, such as North America. The reinforcement of the Association of Nikkei and Japanese Abroad and the cooperation of the business community in Japan are vital to realize this goal. Since the Internet has already proved to be efficient in providing information on employment, Japan should promote its use to a further extent.

With respect to developing countries, it would be necessary to provide a wide-ranged business management know-how by sending business consultants from Japan or a third country as JICA experts.

(4) Employment of Nikkei in Japan

(a) Acceptance of Nikkei and Prior Provision of Information

Ever since the amendment in 1990 of the Immigration Control and Refugee & Recognition Act, a large number of Nikkei have visited Japan. Review of the policy on acceptance of these people as part of the labor force is expected to be furthered depending on the outlook of the lowering birthrate, population composition and labor supply. When such circumstances arises, discussions should be made taking into account the capabilities of the Nikkei as well as the relations that they have with Japan.

It would also be desirable to provide them in advance with accurate information on their life and employment in Japan so that they would be able to make sufficient preparations before they come to Japan.

(b) Assistance for Nikkei while they are Staying in Japan

Public and private sectors as well as local government have already promoted understanding and cooperation towards the Nikkei working in Japan and their families. Further efforts should be made to develop a more detailed receiving system.

Especially, given that Nikkei tend to work longer periods in Japan, new issues have emerged, such as the problem of brokers' intervention, labor conditions, maladjustment to the Japanese society, education of their children and so on. Cooperation and collaboration among the different authorities are essential to find a solution, since various authorities are involved with these issues. Japan should keep on assisting them in the form of supplying wide-ranged information, enhancing an elaborate consulting system, assistance for their daily lives including education and medical care, certifying professional technology and licenses, offering Japanese language training programs and so on.

Some of the successful examples of assistance provided by local public entities could serve as examples for other local governments and organizations. Such examples include the cooperation of Hamamatsu City, Shizuoka Prefecture, in the founding of the Pythagoras School, which is officially approved by the Brazilian government, and the attempt of Ohta City and Oizumi Town, Gunma Prefecture, in promoting friendship and mutual understanding between the local citizens and the Nikkei through the Samba Carnival.

(c) Assistance after the Return to the Country of Residence

It is also important to assist the employment and entrepreneurial activities of Nikkei, who have returned to their countries of residence. The plan for the Techno Center proposed by Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) for assisting Japanese small and medium-sized enterprises in expanding their business overseas should be effective when the Nikkei, after having worked in Japan, consider starting a business in their country of residence. The Japanese government should assess the possibility of assisting the establishment of those centers in Latin America and other regions.

The government should formulate and implement financial assistance measures to the Nikkei primarily in establishing and developing small and medium-sized businesses by utilizing financial institutions in and outside of Japan, as well as by using various international funds.

(5). Stronger Collaboration and Cooperation with Communities of Nikkei People, and Authorities Concerned Inside and Outside of Japan

Collaboration between Nikkei communities and the authorities concerned inside and outside of Japan not only promotes spiritual solidarity, but also provides practical benefits, such as introducing successful business stories and sharing useful information among the Nikkei people. It is essential in this sense to help organize the groups of Japanese descendants in different parts of the world and to build up a global network. Likewise, Japan needs to strengthen her assistance to the Conference of Pan-American Nikkei Associations. Furthermore, it is of great significance to promote youth-level exchanges with the Japanese communities. It would be worth considering a program targeted similar to the Southeast Asian Youth Vessel for the Japanese communities abroad.

The Convention of Nikkei and Japanese Abroad held every year by the Association of Nikkei and Japanese Abroad offers a valuable opportunity for grasping the needs of the Nikkei people living overseas. Japan should, therefore, continue her support to the convention. It is also of vital importance to strengthen the foundations of the Association of Nikkei and Japanese Abroad which implements many other assisting projects besides the convention.


Back to Index