Elaine Lies and Takashi Umekawa, Yahoo! News, February 13, 2015
A former adviser to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has praised apartheid as a model for how Japan could expand immigration, prompting the government’s top spokesman on Friday to emphasize that Japan’s immigration policy was based on equality.
Author Ayako Sono, considered part of Abe’s informal brain trust, set off a wave of online fury this week when she wrote in the conservative Sankei newspaper that South Africa’s former policies of racial separation had been good for whites, Asians and Africans.
In a column entitled “Let Them In–But Keep a Distance”, Sono said Japan should open its doors to more foreign workers, especially to care for the growing numbers of elderly, but should make them live separately from Japanese.
“People can carry out business and research together, and socialize together, but they should live apart,” she wrote.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga declined to comment on Sono’s remarks at a regular news conference, but added, “Our immigration policy is predicated on equality, which is guaranteed in Japan.”
A labor shortage has pushed the government to take steps to boost the numbers of highly skilled foreigners and expand a “trainee” program for blue collar workers that has been widely criticized for human rights abuses, but authorities insist the steps are not part of an “immigration policy”.
Sono served on a government educational panel in 2013 and has long advised Abe’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party.