"MM says Japan should study how Singapore turned to foreign workers to boost its economy"-My Paper
Japan has a very backward policy towards foreign workers. The number of foreign workers is less than 0.5% of the total population[Link]. The number of foreign workers is about 10% among OECD countries[Link]. The Japanese population at the current fertility rate will decline by 30% by 2050. The Japanese govt is taking measures to encourage Japanese couples to have more children to reverse this trend. Suppose the Japanese take MM Lee's advice to learn from Singapore and import foreign workers by the millions to keep the economy growing. In a couple of decades, the Japanese will be a minority in their own country like Singaporeans will be within a decade. So they give up a unique precious culture, a closely knit society evolved over centuries and become a minority in their own country just for one more decade of economic growth. Economic growth? The Japanese have been there and done that. The population won't decline forever and after a while, the decline will reverse when it's cities become less overcrowded. To aim for "perma-growth" - GDP growth prioritised above everything else by packing more and more people on a limited piece of land is clearly unsustainable.
The Japanese people are already very concerned with the M-shaped income distribution [Link]resulting from a widening income gap (no where near Singapore's). The Japanese are a highly egalitarian society[Link] - they will resist any move that will cause their fellow Japanese to sink further below the poverty line. Importing a large number of cheap foreign workers will repress the income of the poorest Japanese further and this will never be acceptable to the Japanese.
MM Lee also advised the Japanese to abandon its political system which is still based on seniority and learn from China, which requires its political leaders to step down when they turn 65[Link]. Hmmm....how old is MM Lee?...Quite an amazing piece of advice even by his standard.
Japan faces tough choice, says MM
MM says Japan should study how Singapore turned to foreign workers to boost its economy. -
Fri, Dec 11, 2009 my paper
JAPAN, facing economic and social problems partly due to its ageing population, could take a leaf out of Singapore's book, Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew said yesterday.
It could study how Singapore turned to foreign workers to boost its economy, he said.
He was asked how Japan could break its cultural and economic barriers in integrating foreigners at a dialogue to mark the 40th anniversary of the Japanese Chamber of Commerce & Industry Singapore.
He said: "Japan faces a difficult choice here. If it continues its policy, it will have an ageing population which does not consume much - old people do not change cars or televisions every year. One of the reasons why the Japanese economy is not bouncing back, despite stimulus packages, is because the consumer market is down."
Japan has to consider letting the younger generation take up political and business leadership earlier, and to embrace women as part of its workforce.