Skip to content
Subscriber Only
Noah Smith

How Japan Needs to Change to Welcome Immigrants

The country has to do more to assimilate foreigners and offset population decline.
Feeling unwanted.

Feeling unwanted.

Photographer: Toru Yamanaka/AFP/Getty Images

The U.S. has been roiled by debates over immigration. Japan has the opposite problem -- not enough debate. Immigration is happening, and no one is talking about it or preparing to deal with it.

Americans tend to use Japan as an example of a country that doesn’t take in immigrants. For example, my Bloomberg View colleague Justin Fox recently wrote that “politicians have so far been unwilling to allow immigration to take up the slack” of an aging population. It’s true that Japan has a small foreign-born population compared to other countries: