Japan's Weird Unemployment Solution

When Japanese unemployment edged up to a three-year high of 4.4 percent in February, the government started looking for creative ways to lower it. One solution: get the unemployed out of the country by offering citizenship buyouts. The program applies only to unemployed people of Japanese descent who were born abroad but now live in Japan (they’re known as nikkei). The plan pays out-of-work nikkei $3,000 to return to their country of origin, not to return until economic conditions improve in Japan. Like other strange Japanese ideas, we don’t expect this one to spread to our shores any time soon. [%comments]

John F

Actually, didn't Atlanta do something similar with homeless people in an effort to cleanup the city prior to the 1996 Olympics? As I understand it, they offered homeless people a small amount of cash ($50 comes to mind for some reason) and a one-way Greyhound ticket to other cities like Houston and New Orleans and such. Mean-spirited, maybe, but I like it.


I'd love to see how they figured that specific amount out.

(Value of staying in Japan) = Value of returning to, say, Peru + 3000.

Given the cost of moving would almost certainly exceed the 3K allotted it doesn't seem likely to work very well.


About 100 years ago my family was paid to leave Switzerland. About 10 years ago a documentary was made about the practice, see http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0145492/

Basically, if you were a poor farmer the Swiss government would pay you enough to get to America. It worked out for us.


Kazushi Nagayama

Correction: you are not allowed to return to Japan even after the economic conditions improve, at least not with the entrance permission which is given for being a nikkei. This makes it much harder to come back to Japan.
http://www.mhlw.go.jp/houdou/2009/03/dl/h0331-10a.pdf (in Japanese)


Interesting idea, This might give those who were already thinking of moving the extra push they needed.

@ Helen , Leaving the country temporarily doesn't mean moving all your stuff. You could take a extended vacation :)


The Irish Famine Museum in County Roscommon, Ireland, has interesting records of Irish people who were assisted (or sometimes forced) by their British landlords to emigrate to America around 1845. Wasn't that one of the largest mass immigrations ever to the U.S.?

Tim K

Seriously? You don't think an idea like this would appeal to the nativists here in the US?

edward arrocha ( eak the geek)

Durning the early days of the depression, many Mexicans were forecefully deported in from the States, people who had been invited to work the hard, dirty and dangerous jobs. Many Mexican-Americans, who were born in the States, and had citezenship were kicked out as well. Not bought out, kicked out....
This is not a new tactic, economic pressures have allot to do with movement of people and who they are welcomed. Edward Arrocha/ eak the geek


I think this is also slightly similar (though not identical) to something Spain brought in recently: paying non-EU immigrant workers to return home, rather than pay them unemployment benefits.


Paul Dong

actually this is not as bad as it sounds. If Japanese Citizenship means a package of benefits, this practice just put a price to it.

The bad thing in this program is, you're not allowed to buy Japanese Citizenship with money, or you will have to buy it back through other channels, e.g. investment immigration, which comes with a much higher price tag.

Asymmetrical prices means the replacement cost would be really higher than the price the Government is willing to give. Unless there is a liquid market for Japanese Citizenship, I think this is a fire sale for anyone who's willing to sell.


How many individuals in Japan meet the qualification of being of Japanese heritage but also of having been born abroad?

James 65

Er, how about the prejudice inherent in the programme? It's well known that Japanese look down on their brethren born or educated abroad.


Remember when japan was going to rule the world after our industrial economy started collapsing in the 70's. Funny how that turned out. Since that time, I've watched the outer boroughs of NYC rebuilt by people from nearly every country in the world and our great high tech industry fueled by really smart immigrants. And, where has Japan gone while in the grip of it's xenophobia? Nice cars, but, oy, what a lousy economy. And, here they go again........


Just curious... what countries do nikkei tend to come from?


The largest japanese community out of Japan is established in Brazil, São Paulo.. I am not sure if it changed recently.


In Spain the same incentive was instituted 6 months ago but it has been a failure; very few got that as a good deal.

But i like was was said here (whether s true or not) about the possibility to return to the status when the economy recovers. That is very interesting and for sure it will be a deal breaker for many. Governments could make bipartisan compromises that if recovery is seem in two semesters in a row, immigrants could recover to their previous status. Immigrants would have the economical incentive, their peace of mind and states more economical relieve in many economical and social aspects.


likewise with the author's past articles on japan, this article completely lacks objectivity and wreaks of condescension towards the japanese... do you just want to write a funny story? go somewhere else and write it.

the fact is, many of these folks are being laid off and cant find jobs--but they also cant go back home because they cant afford it. the citizenship was granted on basis they will stay for an indefinite period of time in japan, and if that's not the case, it makes sense to exchange it for money to go back to their origin countries. its not forced, and these folks get the same social security as do any other japanese, so whats the problem? at least the government is trying to help.

as for the other articles on those pathetic inventions, they're jokes, and nobody uses it. the fact the author writes as though its widely spread in japan is dishonest, misleading, and again, wreaks of condensation.




yeah, Japan isn't particularly excited to have foreigners living in their country, but I don't think they would trade "economic success" (if you call what the US has at the moment success) for the class and economic disparity that exists in the United States. And that is exactly what a multi-ethnic society looks like to them. It is more difficult to see the good aspects of a mixed society than it is the bad when you're sitting on the outside.


@ rashad

Thank you for your informed comment.

Look, I don't want to bash this author, but in the previous post, many people already stated those products were either not real or created as some Rube Goldberg-type joke.

And yet the author still insists on posting it as fact.

I understand some people might have stereotypically ideas about Japan, but I would hope someone who values learning would actually take his own advice.


Well, that only took 3 months.


"New York gives homeless people a one-way ticket to leave city"