Arbitrary rulings equal bad PR

In principle, people of moral fiber and legal solvency qualify after 10 years’ consecutive stay – half that if you are deemed to have “contributed to Japan.” For those with Japanese spouses or descendants (“Nikkei” Brazilians, for example), three to five consecutive years are traditionally sufficient.

That’s pretty long. The world’s most famous PR, the U.S. “green card,” only requires two years with an American spouse, three years’ continuous residency without.

Still, record numbers of non-Japanese are applying. The population of immigrants with PR has increased about 15 percent annually since 2002. That means as of 2007, “newcomer” PRs probably outnumber the “Zainichi” Special PRs (the Japan-born “foreigners” of Korean, Chinese, etc. descent) for the first time in history.

At these growth rates, by 2010 Japan will have a million PRs of any nationality – close to half the registered non-Japanese population will be permitted to stay forever.

But I wonder if Japan’s mandarins now feel PRs have reached “carrying capacity” and have started throwing up more hurdles.

Wise up, Immigration, and help Japan face its future. We need more people to stay on and pay into our aging society and groaning pension system.

Remember, non-Japanese do have a choice: They can either help bail the water from our listing ship, or bail out altogether.