Rita Yamaoka, a mother of three who immigrated from Brazil, recently lost her factory job here. Now, Japan has made her an offer she might not be able to refuse.
The government will pay thousands of dollars to fly Mrs. Yamaoka; her husband, who is a Brazilian citizen of Japanese descent; and their family back to Brazil. But in exchange, Mrs. Yamaoka and her husband must agree never to seek to work in Japan again.
“I feel immense stress. I’ve been crying very often,” Mrs. Yamaoka, 38, said after a meeting where local officials detailed the offer in this industrial town in central Japan.
“I tell my husband that we should take the money and go back,” she said, her eyes teary. “We can’t afford to stay here much longer.”
Japan’s offer, extended to hundreds of thousands of blue-collar Latin American immigrants, is part of a new drive to encourage them to leave this recession-racked country. So far, at least 100 workers and their families have agreed to leave, Japanese officials said.
But critics denounce the program as shortsighted, inhumane and a threat to what little progress Japan has made in opening its economy to foreign workers.
“It’s a disgrace. It’s cold-hearted,” said Hidenori Sakanaka, director of the Japan Immigration Policy Institute, an independent research organization.
“And Japan is kicking itself in the foot,” he added. “We might be in a recession now, but it’s clear it doesn’t have a future without workers from overseas.”
Sad isn't it. Can you imagine if your parents weren't allowed to be a citizen of Canada or the US and lived off working VISAs? Then any day they could just pay you to leave? That's remarkable.
Maybe one should think twice about living in places like Japan that have such tight foreigner laws. We are very lucky to live in North America.