A couple of days ago I had lunch with Declan Murphy, the head of the international office at Yamasa, the Japanese school where I studied. I did mention to him that it might be a good idea to update the “fortnightly” newsletter on the home page, but apparently he’s been short of staff again after having one of his staff poached by Waseda. And Yamasa isn’t leaving him much free time, as they are full, and so there are lots of students sending him lots of emails, just like I did, about whether they can come to the school. Apparently, they’re about to make the decisions for April student visa admissions.
We spent most of the time talking about Yamasa and life in Japan for long-term foreigners. Declan has been here far, far longer than I have, but after four years I think I do qualify as long-term. One thing that we’ve both noticed is that, at least in Okazaki and Kawasaki, foreigners are no longer remarkable. There are still relatively few, but we are part of the expected scenery. In Kawasaki, some people even spot that Mayuki is half-Japanese when I’m not there, which suggests that it’s common enough for them to know what it looks like, and to think it’s a sensible hypothesis.
The other thing I notice, keeping in touch with UK newspapers as well as Japanese ones, is that the Japanese media seem, if anything, to be less hostile to immigrants than the UK equivalents. Partly, this is a matter of scale. There just aren’t as many immigrants in Japan, so claims that they are taking all the jobs and housing are implausible. On the other hand, a lot of the articles about foreigners in the Yomiuri podcast are “normal”; they are just about a foreigner or group of foreigners in Japan doing something interesting, such as running a restaurant that brews a particular Korean speciality.
Japan’s reputation for being unwelcoming for foreigners really doesn’t seem to be deserved.