Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Can you speak Japanese?

Funny how these things come in a bunch.

I've already posted about these vague proposals JT about revamping the visa requirements for Japan, including language skills testing.

Now a similar sort of idea has popped up again, but there's still no sign that anyone has actually thought it through. Before anyone jumps to the wrong conclusion, let me say at the outset that of course it is not unreasonable to impose some sort of language requirement on permanent residents and citizenship applications. These people are (in principle) here to stay as members of Japanese society. There already are de facto requirements, if not exactly de jure, in the form of paperwork and a face to face interview (no interpreter allowed!). Exceptions are only made for mass murderers on the Interpol wanted list (eg), and I don't want to stay here that badly.

It's not really clear what is being considered - there is no such thing as a "long term visa" anyway, with most categories limited to 3y. And obviously it would be a complete non-starter to hope that foreign professionals or wannabe English language teachers would take Japanese lessons just on the off chance that they might get offered a short contract here at some point in the future.

So I am still waiting with interest to see what concrete proposals, if any, actually see the light of day.


P. Lewis said...

I know a few Japanese phrases (courtesy of James Clavell -- well the TV version of Shogun) and King Crimson's album Discipline. Is that likely to get me a 3- year visa with a 2-year option?

"Matte kudasai, we are plocessing your apprication."

"Domo arigato", I said, supplicatingly.

Don't suppose so.

Is there any/much internal angst at this overt nationalistic (discriminatory?) stance?

If the UK adopted such a stance to non-EC migrants there'd be absolute uproar from within (and without).

[When the series Shogun was relatively fresh in my mind (some years later), a Japanese student working in our office in the UK for 6 months on some sort of exchange visit complimented me on my Japanese one day over a lunchtime game of chess. It gave me a sort of warm glowing feeling and he was genuinely pleased at my attempts. Still, Clavellese can't get you far, can it, I suppose? For a time I knew more Japanese, I think, than I did my mother country's native tongue ... Welsh! Sadly, not now. And my Welsh hasn't improved much either.]

David B. Benson said...

"Arigato" was enough for my 2 week trip to Japan in the summer of 1979...

James Annan said...

Is there any/much internal angst at this overt nationalistic (discriminatory?) stance?

Oh, there's plenty of angst all over the web (eg here and here) but it's pretty pointless IMO since no-one has a clue about what is being proposed (least of all the proposer!). I don't see how it can significantly affect either the visiting professionals, or the English teaching crowd, because to be blunt Japan needs us more than we need Japan! So I'm not that bothered, other than noting it as another indicator as to how foreigners are blamed for not fitting in. Eg if the Japanese govt was really serious about assimilation it might start by providing education for children of resident foreigners, the current absence of which is a shameful omission.

If the UK adopted such a stance to non-EC migrants there'd be absolute uproar from within (and without).

AIUI many countries do have some requirements (and as I mentioned, Japan does in practice for permanent residency status). Of course it's easier in a practical sense for English-speaking countries to do this, since the pool of potential immigrants is still large and the skill is one they are likely to find useful in many places. Japanese, of course, fails miserably on both counts.

EliRabett said...

As I recall, Fujimori was invited to leave after five years, went to Chile, and was extradited to Peru.

James Annan said...

I don't think there was any pressure on Fujimori to leave. Rather, it was an extraordinary delusion of grandeur that he could actually return to political life in S America.

Wikipedia simply says:

By March 2005, it appeared that Peru had all but abandoned its efforts to extradite Fujimori from Japan. In September of that year, Fujimori obtained a new Peruvian passport in Tokyo, and announced his intention to run in the Peruvian national election, 2006