Japan is planning to combat unemployment by sending back to their countries of origin 400.000 South American immigrants of Japanese stock, most of them from Brazil. The idea is to pay these immigrants known as dekaseguis a small subsidy and a one way ticket to South America, an initiative that has generated some controversy in the Japanese press.
The immigrants return program, similar to that of Spain, is financed by Japan's ministry of Health, Work and Human Services and became effective April first. The program enables all "nikkeis" (Japanese of South American origin) to receive a subsidy of 2.300 Euros (US$ 3,118) plus 1.560 Euros (US$ 2,115) per family dependent, which should be enough so see them off back to their countries of origin.
According to census data from 2007 there are an estimated 400.000 "nikkei" in Japan of which 310.000 from Brazil; 60.000 from Peru and the rest from Argentina, Bolivia and Colombia.
Brazil which last year celebrated the centenary of Japanese immigration has the largest community with 1.5 million.
Tokyo authorities' decision has three main objectives reports the Japanese press: help "Nikkei" workers return to their countries of origin; ease the domestic labor market and avoid having to pay unemployment insurance to the tune of 1.500 Euros (US$ 2,033) per month.
In the nineties when Japan was short of labor it eased its rigid immigration regulations giving South Americans of Japanese origin the chance to obtain work permits to cover the three "K": Kitsui, Kitani and Kiken, that is the hard, dirty and dangerous jobs the locals refused to apply for.
According to the Tokyo press, authorities were also fearful of having to offer work permits to close trade allies, China and Iran.