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Abe Cabinet Migration Reforms: Cautious Liberalization?

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Japan is a developed country which, however, is facing an acute problem of population aging and demographic decline, including that of the number of working-age population, due to a combination of low fertility and high life expectancy. Most countries solve the problem of labor shortage by actively attracting labor migrants to the country. However, Japan - one of the most mono-ethnic countries in the world - is known for its strict migration legislation. The migration balance in 2018 amounted to a little more than 160,000 people, despite the fact that, in order to stabilize the population, the influx of people into the country should be about 500,000 annually. This situation is largely caused by limited migration attractiveness of Japan, where migrants still often face violations of their rights, difficulties in renting housing, employment and in everyday life due to the language barrier, complexity of administrative procedures, and socio-cultural characteristics of Japanese society. Given the demographic trends, the use of labor migration to fill the shortage of labor in Japan seems to be not only reasonable, but also an uncontested option. That is why the migration policy of Japan became one of the most important issues with regard to the well-being of the Land of the Rising Sun during the premiership of S. Abe, who decided to gradually move to liberalize migration legislation. Since 2012, initiatives and goals of Abe Cabinet in the field of immigration control, in fact, affected all categories of migrants - highly qualified specialists, students, low-skilled workers, medium-skilled workers, and illegal immigrants. The article will examine what measures were taken during Abe’s premiership to attract foreigners and how the liberalization of migration legislation correlated with the growth strategy of Japan, Abenomics.

About the Author

M. A. Shipilova
Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO University)
Russian Federation


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For citations:

Shipilova M.A. Abe Cabinet Migration Reforms: Cautious Liberalization? Russian Japanology Review. 2021;4(1):35-58. (In Russ.)

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