Welcoming Change? An Individual- and Prefecture- Level Analysis of Public Opinion towards Immigration in Japan
Abstract: In April of 2019, Japan implemented a new visa system projected to bring in approximately 345,000 semi-skilled foreign workers into the country over several years. As the Japanese society also faces an ageing population and simultaneously a diminishing workforce, it has turned to immigrant workers to fill labor shortages. This influx of foreigners may result in cultural, societal, and economic issues in the country as it challenges the homogenous society of Japan, with only two percent of its total population being foreigners. Do the native Japanese support or oppose increasing immigration and what shapes their opinions to be one way or the other? In an attempt to answer this question, this thesis uses a pooled dataset combining six rounds of the Japanese General Social Survey between 2000 to 2006. Estimating linear probability models with year and prefecture fixed effects, this study focuses on several overarching concerns that may influence immigration attitudes: economic conditions of the country, perceived threats to public safety, share of foreigners, and opportunities for contact between natives and foreigners. Our findings show support for the labor market competition theory and the contact hypothesis in explaining immigration attitudes of Japanese natives.
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