Friday, February 13, 2015
An adviser on education policies to Japan’s government has sparked a furore by recommending that immigrants in the world’s third-largest economy be separated by race
In a column for the Sankei newspaper, Ayako Sono said apartheid-era South Africa showed that whites, Asians and blacks should live apart. “Black people fundamentally have a philosophy of large families,” she wrote. “For whites and Asians, it was common sense for a couple and two children to live in one complex. But blacks ended up having 20 to 30 family members living in a single unit.” Sono is a best-selling author and a vocal supporter of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s efforts to revive patriotic education. Abe appointed her to a panel on educational reform in 2013 but the government says that she has since quit. She has also been quoted in a government-recommended textbook on morals for secondary school students, alongside Mother Theresa and other prominent figures. The column, written on Japan’s National Foundation Day, traditionally a holiday for expressing patriotism, sparked outrage, with online commentators branding it “disgusting” and “appalling”. Japan’s government is considering allowing 200,000 foreigners a year to enter the country to head off a growing demographic crisis. The country’s population is aging and declining, falling by nearly a quarter of a million in 2013. An advisory body to Abe said in 2014 that opening the immigration drawbridge to more foreigners would eventually help stabilize the population – currently 127 million – “at around 100 million”. The Asian powerhouse has so far shunned the mass immigration policies of other developed economies. Less than 2% of the population is foreign, and that includes hundreds of thousands of long-term residents from China and Korea. In her column, Sono said that Japan’s chronic labor shortage was forcing the country to consider more immigrants, but added that after studying the situation in South Africa for 30-40 years such policies would only work if the country segregated races. “It is next to impossible to attain an understanding of foreigners by living alongside them,” she said. She said that black Africans had ruined areas previously reserved for whites in the country and they would do the same thing to Japan if allowed to do so.