adapted from National Geographic, http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2015/03/syrian-refugees/salopek-text
Today so many people, especially from Africa and the Middle East, are compelled to flee their countries for political reasons or because of ongoing conflicts. It might be a normal reaction for locals to dislike immigrants and refugees, but Japan is known as a country the least welcomes foreigners, while many other developed countries such as Germany and France accept a lot of refugees.
In Japanese, there are two words to translate foreigners: 外人 (GaiJin) and 外国人 (Gaikokujin). These two words refer to exactly the same people, but the former sounds quite offensive. For example, gaijins are rude and not punctual, and steal money etc. Although this is a joke, it is sometimes said if you do not like Japanese politics or Japan itself, you are Korean. They do not really mean it, but there is a xenophobic mood even in casual conversations.
Foreigners have no right to vote in Japan even if they live in Japan permanently. Despite the lack of the right, they are supposed to pay the same amount of taxes as Japanese.
They often say there is no refugee in Japan. Yes, it is almost true. According to Human Rights Watch, while the number of asylum applications has increased dramatically in recent years (7,586 in 2015 and 5,011 in the first half of 2016), only 27 asylum seekers were recognized as refugees in 2015 and 4 in the first half of 2016. In May 2016, Japan announced a plan to accept up to 150 Syrian youths, including refugees as international students, over five years. However, only six asylum seekers from Syria had been recognized as refugees.
Considering the aging society in Japan, they need more young foreign workers. Actually, most of fast food restaurants in Japan could not do their business without foreign part timers (mostly international students). In a sense, they can lead a good life thanks to foreigners they discriminate against.
In my opinion, great power should come with great responsibility. Japan is a rich country, generally speaking. There are so many people in need and you must not make an excuse saying “It’s none of my business.” Japan is expected to act for humanity.
Human Rights Watch Japan, https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2017/country-chapters/japan#2b4ae4, accessed on November 22, 2017