Japan’s Immigration Conundrum – a Challenge for the Church
t has been projected that in half a century, nearly 11 percent of the population will be non-Japanese while the population overall will drop from the present 126 million to 87 million.
The largest groups of foreign residents are from China, Vietnam and South Korea. Others from the Philippines, Brazil and other countries of Latin America are reshaping the Catholic Church as they have become the majority of Japan’s Catholics.
For decades, Japan has resisted welcoming immigrants. Almost all the three million are in the country as students, trainees or specialists of one kind or other. However, many of them are in fact immigrants in all but name and legal status. They will remain in Japan either legally or illegally, and increasingly are starting families there, sometimes with Japanese partners.
Japan’s population is declining and the country desperately needs more people to maintain its economy and, as the population ages, the national health insurance system. Speaking at a press conference, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said, “Time is running out to procreate.”