Sorry America: Japan’s The Next Melting Pot

japan melting pot

It could be the food… It could be the culture… It could be the idea of living a life that inspires anime. Whatever the secret sauce, foreigners are flocking to Japan.

A recent Japanese study notes that of the 83,400 youngsters celebrating Seijin no Hi (your 20th coming-of-age birthday – roughly 1-in-8 are foreign born. That’s 10,425 new adults born elsewhere – a significant number.

seijin 2 guys Sorry America: Japan's The Next Melting Pot
(Source: Pacific Air Forces)

But where are all these expats coming from and why are they having kids in another country?

As you’d probably expect, people are flocking in to attend college, language school, or for professional internships. The organizations offer special programs, education, training, and – most importantly – a totally unique experience. Foreigners looking to immerse themselves in Japanese culture jump on the opportunity.

Many of these bridge-building companies are found in the commercial hub Shinjuku Ward of Tokyo, where nearly 50% of all coming of age youngsters are foreign. Other wards heavy on expat companies include the Toshima and Nakano.

Collectively, the number of newly-minted, foreign born adults is 1.7% higher compared to 2013.

seijin 4 women Sorry America: Japan's The Next Melting Pot
(Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Toshihiro Menju, a spokesperson for the Japan Center for International Exchange and co-author of Asia on the Move: Regional Migration and the Role of a Civil Society, acknowledged these trends and mentioned that foreigners are becoming more and more important as Japan’s native birthrates decline. He commented:

The truth is that without foreigners, Japanese society cannot function, and we must work towards creating institutions so that Japanese natives and foreign-born residents can support that society hand-in-hand.

Others have embraced the influx of foreigners by handing out pamphlets for seijin celebrations in other languages or pronunciation guides so they can understand the Japanese version.

All this leads me to think one thing – Japan is growing as one very diverse melting pot culture (more than it already is). And as creative as Japanese culture is, this could only lead to even more interesting creative endeavors!


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