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日本之变:越来越多的老人,越来越多的外国移民

更新时间:2018/12/26 21:02:09 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

More seniors, more foreigners: How Japan is changing
日本之变:越来越多的老人,越来越多的外国移民

When I lived in the Japanese countryside 10 years ago, I rarely came across other non-Japanese residents. Even in Tokyo, as a tall, white American, I’d sometimes get surprised glances from local residents.

10年前我住在日本乡村时,很少遇到外国人。甚至在东京,当地人有时也会向我这个身材高大的美国白人投来讶异的目光。

But when I visited last month, I was struck by how much had changed. Hotels, shopping centres and cafés seemed to have at least one immigrant working there. Some of the young people staffing reception desks and video game arcades wore badges with non-Japanese names.

但上个月再去日本,变化之大令我震惊。酒店、购物中心和咖啡馆,似乎至少都会有一名工作人员是外来移民。一些在前台、电子游戏厅工作的年轻人,胸前的名牌写着非日本名字。

At one pub-restaurant in Kanazawa, a mid-sized city north of Tokyo, I saw a young Caucasian assistant behind the counter assisting the sushi chef. At another restaurant, we were served by a non-Japanese waiter from an Asian nation – and ended up communicating in English.

金泽是东京以北一座中等规模的城市。在那里的一家酒吧餐厅,我看见柜台后面给寿司师傅打下手的,是一个年轻白人。在另一家餐厅,服务我们的是一个来自亚洲其他国家的人,我们用英语进行交流。

In short? Japan is internationalising – and this process is on the cusp of rapid acceleration.

总之,日本正在变得国际化,而且这个过程正在加速。

The driving force is demographic change: Japan’s population is ageing rapidly and shrinking. Add in other factors including never-before-seen levels of foreign tourism, plus massive preparations for the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics, and the result is a nation that desperately needs more workers to fill jobs.

日本人口结构的变化,是因为该国正在经历迅速老龄化和人口减少。再加上其他因素,包括海外游客达到前所未有的水平、2020年东京夏季奥运会的大规模筹备工作,都迫切需要更多劳动力来填补就业岗位。

Japan has been aware of a looming demographic crunch for decades, but because successive governments have been reluctant to take major steps, the problem has become more urgent.

日本对迫在眉睫的人口危机早有认识,但几十年来,历届政府都不愿意采取大动作,导致问题变得越来越紧迫。

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe wants to bring in more foreign, low-wage workers. But his proposal to accept hundreds of thousands of people to fill blue-collar jobs by 2025 is highly controversial in a nation that has traditionally shunned immigration.

日本首相安倍晋三希望引进更多低薪外国工人。但他提议到2025年接纳数十万蓝领工人,在这个传统上不欢迎移民的国家引发极大争议。

On Saturday, Japan’s parliament accepted that proposal in a contentious and unprecedented move to let in more immigrant workers than ever before – 300,000 throughout the next five years, starting in April. The new bill comes at a time of historic change in Japan. And how everything shakes out could shape the country for generations.

周六,日本国会通过了让更多移民劳动力进入日本的法案,这是一个存在争议的、史无前例的举动——从4月开始,在未来5年达到30万人。随着新的法案出台,日本正在经历历史性变化。此事何去何从,可能会影响这个国家的几代人。

Spike in seniors, spike in foreigners

老龄人口激增,外国移民激增

Bhupal Shrestha is a university lecturer living in Tokyo’s Suginami ward, a residential area known for its narrow alleys lined with second-hand clothing and antique shops. He’s lived in Japan for 15 years, but the road to a “permanent resident” visa hasn’t always been a smooth one.

什雷斯塔(Bhupal Shrestha)是一名大学讲师,住在东京的杉并区,这个居住区以狭窄的小巷以及两旁的二手服装店和古董店闻名。他在日本生活了15年,但获得“永久居民”签证的道路并不一帆风顺。

He says he’s experienced “discrimination on basic things, such as searching for rooms for residences or businesses, opening bank accounts, applying for credit cards”. He also says it’s hard for immigrants themselves to have much say in the government policy that affects them.

他说,他经历过“在基本生活层面的各种歧视,像找房居住或者银行开户、申请信用卡”。他还说,移民群体在对他们有影响的政府决策中没有发言权。

“Japanese society is opening up to immigrants, but they are still conservative in some places,” he says. “I think it is due to the lack of chances [they have] for cultural exchange with immigrants.”

“日本社会将向移民开放,但某些方面他们仍然很保守,”他说。“我想这是因为(他们)没有机会跟移民群体进行交流。”

Originally from Nepal, Shrestha is one of the 1.28 million foreign workers living in Japan. It’s a record number, up from 480,000 in 2008. Yet the figure constitutes just 1% of Japan’s population, compared to 5% in the UK or 17% in the US. Almost 30% of Japan’s foreign workers come from China, with significant populations from Vietnam, the Philippines and Brazil.

什雷斯塔来自尼泊尔,是居住在日本的128万外国劳工之一。这是一个创纪录的数字,2008年的时候,这个数字是48万。然而,这个数字仅占日本人口总数的1%,而英国是5%,美国是17%。日本近30%的外国劳工来自中国,还有很大一部分来自越南、菲律宾和巴西。

The low figure is because immigration has traditionally been unpopular in Japan. An island nation, it was once fiercely isolationist. Up until the mid-1800s, those entering or leaving the country could be punished by death. Now, however, modern Japan views itself as homogenous, with a strong cultural identity.

日本的外国劳工少,是因为传统上移民在这里不受欢迎。作为岛国,它曾是一个坚定的孤立主义者。直到19世纪中叶,那些来到或者离开这个国家的人,都有可能被处以极刑。然而现在,现代日本认为自己是同质的,存在强烈的文化认同。

Historically, domestic anxieties toward immigration stem from perceived job losses, cultural disruption and fears of spiking crime rates in what is a famously low-crime nation.

从历史上看,日本国内对移民的焦虑,源自人们对失业、文化破坏以及犯罪率飙升的担忧(日本是一个以低犯罪率闻名的国家)。

But the big problem is this: the number of native Japanese is going down.

但一个大麻烦是:土生土长的日本人数量正在下降。

The population contracted by nearly a million people between 2010 and 2015 alone. Last year, it fell by another 227,000. In parallel, the number of residents over 65 hit a record 27% –  a number that will rise to 40% in 2050.

仅2010年至2015年,日本的人口就减少了近100万。去年,人口又下降了22.7万。与此同时,65岁以上的居民数量达到了创纪录的27%,到2050年,这个数字将上升到40%。

In May, the job availability ratio hit the highest it’s been in 44 years: 160 jobs for every 100 workers. That means there are now lots of available jobs that older Japanese can’t do and that younger Japanese don’t want to do.

今年5月,空缺岗位率(job availability ratio)达到了44年来的最高水平:每100名工人面对160个职位空缺。这也就意味着,现在很多工作是日本老年人不能做,年轻人不愿意做的。

“Very dire” is how Shihoko Goto, senior associate at the Woodrow Wilson Center, a US think-tank, describes the situation. But she says in the past immigration “has really not been seen as part of a broader solution to some of the issues Japan is facing”.

“非常可怕,”美国智库伍德罗·威尔逊中心(Woodrow Wilson Center)的高级副研究员后藤志保子(Shihoko Goto)这样描述当前形势。但她表示,对于“日本所面临的一些问题”,过去并没有把移民“纳入更广泛的解决方案”。

While some businesses and politicians back Abe’s plans, others are lining up to question how it could change Japanese society.

虽然一些商界和政界人士支持安倍的计划,但也有人纷纷质疑它对日本社会可能造成的改变。

Desperately seeking workers

迫切寻找劳工

“Not many Japanese have actual experience of working and living together with foreigners,” says Masahito Nakai, an immigration lawyer in Tokyo. But he says people are starting to understand that something must be done. “They are realising the country cannot stand without their help.”

“没有多少日本人有跟外国人一起工作和生活的实际经验,”东京的移民律师中井正人(Masahito Nakai)表示。但他说,人们开始明白,有些事情不能再拖了。“他们意识到,没有外来移民的帮助,这个国家恐怕不灵。”

The most urgent need is in sectors like construction, agriculture and ship-building, in all parts of the country. The hospitality and retail industries also increasingly require English and other language skills as tourism continues to boom.

需求最迫切的,是全国各地的建筑、农业和造船等部门。随着旅游业的持续繁荣,酒店和零售业对英语和其他语言技能的要求也越来越高。

Nursing and homecare workers are also urgently needed to care for the growing cohort of retirees. According to a November report more than 345,000 foreign workers are expected to come to Japan to fill roles across all these sectors in the next five years, if Abe’s proposals go through.

为了照顾人数日益增多的退休老人,对护理工和家政人员的需求也很急迫。根据11月的一份报告,如果安倍的提议获得通过,预计未来5年会有逾34.5万名外国工人来到日本,填补所有这些岗位空缺。

To date, Japan has got around the issue of importing foreign workers by using a temporary “technical intern training programme”. This allows young labourers or students to work in low-wage roles for three to five years before going home.

迄今为止,日本通过临时性的“技能实习制度”来解决外国劳工的输入问题。年轻劳动者或学生在回国之前,可以通过这个方案在低工资岗位上工作三到五年。

But the programme has been criticised for exploiting workers in areas ranging from meagre pay to bad working conditions. Last year, it emerged that a 24-year-old Vietnamese man on the programme ended up handling radioactive nuclear waste as part of the Fukushima clean-up. It’s been criticised in the press for years, with some outlets dubbing it “servitude in disguise”.

但这个方案也因低工资和工作条件恶劣等原因,被批评为剥削工人。去年,一名24岁的越南男子被安排去做福岛核事故清理工作,处理放射性核废料,引发关注。多年来,这个方案一直饱受媒体的批评,一些媒体称之为“变相奴役”。

Now, Abe wants to allow low-skilled workers to stay for five years, and introduce a renewable visa for skilled workers, who would be allowed to bring their families. He wants the new visa schemes to launch in April.

现在,安倍希望允许低技能工人在日本停留五年,并为技术工人推出一种可续签的签证,允许他们带家人来日本。安倍希望这个新的签证方案能在4月启动。

Abe resists calling these workers “immigrants” though, and critics of his plan fear it could provide an easier path to permanent residency. There’s also concern that foreign workers would crowd cities and not live in rural areas where they are needed the most. Rights advocates, meanwhile, fear that Japan still has not learned how to adequately protect foreign workers from exploitation.

不过,安倍拒绝称这些工人为“移民”,而且批评该计划的人担心,它可能提供了一条获得永久居留权的方便途径。还有人担心,外国工人会涌入城市,而不是生活在最需要他们的乡村地区。与此同时,权益倡导人士也担心,日本仍未学会如何充分保护外国工人免受盘剥。

Takatoshi Ito, professor of international and public affairs at Columbia University, says he believes that Japanese society “is waking up to globalisation”. “So far, most [foreign workers] are helping economic growth, taking jobs the Japanese are not willing to take.”

哥伦比亚大学(Columbia University)国际与公共事务教授伊藤隆敏(Takatoshi Ito)表示,他认为日本社会“正在认识到全球化的重要性”。“到目前为止,大多数(外国工人)都在帮助经济增长,接下的是日本人不愿干的工作。”

But Nakai, the immigration lawyer, says securing a visa is just the beginning and that assimilating into Japanese culture can be difficult. He points to gaps in language and cultural knowledge as key challenges migrant workers face.

但移民律师中井正人表示,获得签证只是一个开始,难的可能是融入日本文化。他指出,语言和文化上的差异,是移民工人面临的主要挑战。

“If taxpayers agree, the government at least should provide free or cheap Japanese language courses over the archipelago as a first step,” Nakai says. Others think there isn’t much outreach in general.

“如果纳税人同意,作为第一步,政府至少应该在日本列岛向他们提供免费或廉价的日语课程,”中井正人说。另一些人则认为,配套服务在总体上是欠缺的。

“I think there are very few exchange events organised. There isn’t even communication between residents of the same apartment [block],” says Bhupal Shrestha. “When there is no understanding between neighbours, a multicultural society can’t be made.”

“我认为有组织的交流活动非常少,住在同一公寓楼里的甚至都没有交流,”什雷斯塔说。“邻里之间没有了解,就不可能形成多元文化社会。”

Culture clash

文化冲突

Chikako Usui, a sociologist at the University of Missouri in St Louis, says a variety of factors, from Japan’s isolationist history to its self-perceived homogeneity, give immigrants a rough go.

密苏里大学圣路易斯分校(University of Missouri in St Louis)的社会学家臼井近子(Chikako Usui)说,从日本的孤立主义历史到其自我认知上的同质性,种种因素都给移民带来困难。

She highlights the litany of unspoken rules and subtle social cues that frame Japanese society that tire even native Japanese and contribute to their unease towards outsiders. The thinking is, she says, how could foreigners possibly understand everything from proper recycling etiquette to knowing to keep quiet on public transport or anticipating what strangers are thinking?

她强调了一长串的潜规则和微妙的社交线索,它们构成了日本社会的框架,甚至令土生土长的日本人感到厌烦,也造成了他们对外来者的不安。她说,道理很简单,从正确的垃圾回收规定到在公共交通工具上要保持安静,还有预测陌生人的想法,这一切外国人怎么可能搞得清楚呢?

Usui points to this Japanese concept of “kuuki wo yomu”, or “reading the air”, that makes Japan go round and involves near telepathic understanding of the unspoken social minutiae of daily life: “Japanese people really don’t think this is possible for foreigners. In fact, [even] I could not [always] do it in Japan.”

臼井近子指出,日本人的“读空气”概念,让日本人对日常生活中那些不言而喻的社交细节产生了近乎心灵感应的理解:“日本人真的不认为这是外国人能做到的。事实上,(甚至)连我在日本也不能(总是)做到。”

Goto of the Woodrow Wilson Center says there is a stringent code for what it means to be Japanese. “It’s not simply about citizenship: it’s about race, it’s about language, it’s about body language. All of these subtle things that a non-Japanese would not get.

伍德罗·威尔逊中心的后藤志保子说,身为日本人意味着什么,有一个严格的准则。“这不仅仅是关于公民身份:它还关乎种族,关乎语言,关乎身体语言。所有这些微妙的东西,不是日本人,很难理解的到。”

“But there is, increasingly, a more open perspective,” she adds. “I think [Japanese] have more opportunities to be with people who are not like them in a way that was not conceivable even 10 years ago.”

“但是,人们的观点越来越开放,”她补充道。“我认为(日本人)现在有了更多机会,以一种10年前无法想像的方式,跟与自己不一样的人相处。”

As society ages and as the Olympics approach, the pressure is intensifying on Japan to figure out how to bring in desperately needed labour from overseas.

随着社会老龄化和奥运会临近,日本面临的压力越来越大,要找到从海外引进急需劳动力的办法。

Those moving to Japan need to know what they’re getting into, says Shrestha. He enjoys living in Japan, but says it is a place where “hard work is worshipped and rules are followed”. “It is better to come with some knowledge of Japanese culture and rules of daily life,” he says.

什雷斯塔说,那些搬到日本的人需要提前了解自己将会面对什么。他喜欢在日本的生活,但又表示,这是一个“崇尚努力工作、遵守规则”的地方。“最好对日本文化和日常生活规则有所了解。”

Meanwhile, the government will likely spend much of 2019 wrestling with an acceptable foreign worker solution. Until it can do that, the labour problem isn’t going anywhere.

与此同时,政府可能会在2019年的大部分时间里,找到一个各方可以接受的外籍劳工方案。在此之前,劳动力短缺的问题缓解无望。

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