In Japan the word “integration” has not yet taken root as a policy term. The word appeared in the second report of the Council for the Promotion of Regulatory Reform, issued in December 2005, which was probably the first time it was used in an official document of the Japanese government. Policymakers got interested in the issue of social integration only recently. Thus, a government body for formulating an overall social integration policy is yet to be formed.
However, at the local government level, gradual progress has been made since the 1970s in shaping social integration policies towards foreign residents. Thus there is a sharp contrast between the policies of local governments and those of the national government. Since 2005, the national government seems to be trying to catch up with the local governments. Whether it will succeed remains to be seen.
Yamawaki Keizo is professor at the School of Commerce, Meiji University. He is chair of the Committee for the Promotion of Multicultural Communities of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications and a member of the subcommittee on foreign residents of the Council on the Movement of People across Borders, Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He is also involved in policymaking of local governments, advises the Council for Localities with a Large Number of Foreign Residents and serves as chair of councils on multicultural community building set up by Aichi, Gunma and Miyagi prefectures and the Tokyo metropolitan government.