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Japan Opens Doors for Foreign Workers Who May Not Want to Come

  • Global free movement would only boost population by 1%
  • Yet few Japanese think there are now too many immigrants
People are silhouetted as they stand on a footbridge overlooking pedestrians crossing an intersection in the Shibuya district of Tokyo.
Photographer: Akio Kon/Bloomberg

Days after Japan passed a law introducing a foreign guest-worker program to bolster a labor force shrinking due to the aging population, a study showed it would struggle to compete with other developed countries to attract residents from overseas.

The Gallup survey showed that Japan’s 126-million strong population would grow by just 1 percent if there were global freedom of movement, compared with 147 percent for Canada and 46 percent for the U.S. However, Japan would fare much better than South Korea, whose population would shrink by 17 percent, according to the survey.