Magazine article ASEE Prism

A Not So Welcome Welcome

Magazine article ASEE Prism

A Not So Welcome Welcome

Article excerpt

TOKYO - Like the United States and Europe, Japan is feeling the strain of an aging society and lower fertility rates. Unlike the West, however, Japan has firmly resisted immigration throughout most of its modern history. Non-Japanese workers account for only 1 percent of the population, about one million people. One of the reasons Japan has been able to postpone the inevitable, says Kyushu Sangyo University's Atsushi Konclo, is "Japan had succeeded in improving manufacturing techniques through microcelectronics, robots, and automation, and as a result, less demand arose" for imported labor.

But biology has finally overwhelmed even Japanese technology: Japan's population is on course to start shrinking in 2007. The United Nations estimates Japan will need a whopping 600,000 foreign immigrants annually to replace lost workers and maintain economic growth. …

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