The Characteristics and Effectiveness of Social Support for Foreign Residents By Faith-Based Organizations in Contemporary Japan

Thursday, 14 July 2016: 14:48
Location: Hörsaal 42 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Norihito TAKAHASHI, Toyo University, Japan
Public support networks for foreign residents are limited in Japan. Compared to other developed nations, Japan has considerably smaller foreign populations. However, many foreigners—called ‘newcomers’ in Japan—have been migrating to Japan for marriage or employment, primarily for blue-collar jobs and night-entertainment businesses, since the 1980s. Since then, support activities for newcomers have been developed to address their everyday difficulties.

    Faith-based organizations, especially the Catholic Church, have played a larger role in providing social support for foreign residents compared to the central or local governments. In this study, I focus on support activities conducted during the economic depression between the Lehman shock in 2008 and the Great East Japan earthquake in 2011. In addition, I examine the characteristics and effectiveness of activities conducted by the Catholic Church, taking into account the rigid separation of religion and state in the constitution of Japan and peoples’ apprehension towards religious groups after the Aum Shinrikyo incident in 1995.

    While the idea of multiculturalism—often called ‘Tabunka-Kyosei’ (multicultural coexistence or symbiosis) in Japan—is still nascent in Japan, the central government and business leaders have expressed the need for foreign workers because of the serious labour shortage resulting from decreasing birth rates and the growing aging population. Therefore, these pioneering support activities for foreign residents conducted by the Catholic churches serve society in general. In this presentation, I also discuss factors that have enabled the Catholic Church to conduct support activities in the Japanese difficult context.