Migration and Demographic Challenges: New Policy Approaches in Japan and Germany

February 22, 2017

Japan and Germany face tremendous common challenges stemming from their aging societies. As of today, Japan’s aging ratio has hit 27 percent, the highest in the world; Germany’s aging ratio sits at 21 percent, the third highest. To cope with the serious demographic and labor problems that result from that trend, Germany has been proactively accepting immigrants into its labor force, whereas Japan has not eased its immigration policies for the time being. However, the Japanese government is currently aiming to enact the world’s fastest permanent visa process for highly skilled workers, and is expected to discuss more proactive policies that will address Japan’s depopulation and insufficient labor force.

Given the worldwide trend of growing anti-globalism and anti-refugee movements, both Japan and Germany need objective, fact-based approaches to issues surrounding immigration. By sharing their experiences in this field, Japanese and German experts and politicians sought to learn from each other and formulate forward-looking migration policies that can contribute to a dynamic and sustainable future.

The taboo in Japan surrounding the issue of immigration is starting to dissipate, and this symposium marked the the first time that Japanese parliamentarians from two different parties, Hon. Masaharu Nakagawa (Democratic Party) and Hon. Taro Kono (LDP), sat down to openly and positively discuss the need to open the country to immigrants, while the deputy chief editorial writer of Nikkei Shimbun confirmed that his paper is also in favor of a new immigration policy.

The event was co-organized with the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) with the support of the Japanisch-Deutsches Zentrum Berlin (JDZB).


Opening Remarks

Akio Okawara, President and Chief Executive Officer, JCIE

Keynote Speeches

Acceptance of Immigrants and Refugees in Germany: Challenges and Opportunities
Rolf Mützenich, Member of the German Bundestag

Acceptance of Foreigners in Japan: Challenges and Prospects
Taro Kono, Member of the House of Representatives of Japan

Japan’s Future and Migration
Masaharu Nakagawa, Member of the House of Representatives of Japan

Panel Discussion: Migration Policy in Japan and Germany—Political and Economic Perspectives

Chair: Tomoyuki Isoyama, former Journalist, Nikkei Shimbun


Taro Kono
Masaharu Nakagawa
Tetsuya Jitsu, Deputy Chief Editorial Writer, Nikkei
Rolf Mützenich
Katrin Hirseland, Deputy Head, Directorate-General Policy Planning and General Issues, Federal Office for Migration and Refugees

Panel Discussion: Social Integration of Immigrants—Views from the Ground

Chair: Dr. Sven Saaler


Toshihiro Menju, Managing Director and Chief Program Officer, JCIE
Kei Shiho, Associate Professor, Kwansei Gakuin University
Stephen Sievert, Head, Department of Migration and Labour Market, Berlin Institute for Population and Development
Markus Wimmer, Head, Office for Social Services, City of Straubing, Germany