The Japanese work force is in the process of becoming different from any other in the island’s history. Statistics released by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, reveal the number of foreign workers employed in Japanese companies took a dramatic leap from 2007 and rose by nearly one-third to hit a total of 330,000. The rise in the number of foreign workers indicates the beginning of quantitative and qualitative changes in the working environment. If the attitude of young Japanese workers is changing, the presence of thousands of workers from other societies will accelerate this process of change. Earlier this year, the Japanese government suggested a dramatic new approach to immigration that seeks to attain a level of having ten percent of the population in 2050 consist of non-Japanese born people.
The numbers of foreigners reported are also due to new procedures on the part of the Japanese government which for the first time is gathering data on birth places of workers. There is some evidence a high percentage of foreign workers received some education in Japanese educational institutions. More and more graduates are electing to remain in Japan and make it their home.
Japanese society now must confront the need to integrate foreign workers into social schemes such as old age retirement and education and health benefits. The Japan of tomorrow will be a more culturally diverse society.