A More Diverse Community Coming of Age

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In 2018, Monday the 8th of January was not only a national holiday across Japan, but also ‘Coming of Age’ day, a day to celebrate young adults and welcome them into the Japanese Community. Known as 成人の日 (せいじんのひ or Seijin no hi), ‘Coming of Age Day’ in Japan, it is an official celebration held each year recognising 20 years of age person’s ascension into both a new found freedom and responsibility.

People eligible for the ‘Coming of Age Day’ ceremony in 2018 needed to turn 20 between the dates of 2 April 2017 and 1 April 2018.

In Japan, reaching the age of 20 is when you are legally considered an adult, although we are starting to see signs of change, it is still the required age to legally drink alcohol, smoke tobacco, sign contracts, etc. Some recent developments now allow 18-year-olds the ability to participate in elections, and they can also drive vehicles unsupervised, but these kinds of reforms are still very gradual.

The Coming of Diversity

Another trend that is also starting to take shape is the increase in foreign nationals living in Japan. Currently, it is estimated that this demographic accounts for more than 2.3 million or almost 2% of the Japanese population, and that figure is continuing to grow, with more moving to Japan to seek employment, trainee visas, study and more. For example, it was reported by the Justice Ministry the number of non-Japanese residents living in Tokyo spiked more than 25 percent from 2013 to 2017, for an estimated total of more than 400,000 of the total cities population.

Recently, the Japan Times ran a poll with the 23 Local Wards of Tokyo in relation to make up of Japanese and non-Japanese adults who were ‘coming of age’ this year. The statistics show that out of the 83,764 residents living in Tokyo, around 13 percent or 10,959 were of non-Japanese heritage.

More specifically, in wards such as Shinjuku and Toshima, numbers were well up from several years ago, with young foreign adults making up more than 46 percent and 38 percent respectively, of all adults turning 20 this year.

These ratios look especially high considering the fact that they only represent around 4 percent of the approx. 9+ million people living in Tokyo’s 23 wards as of January 2017.

The recent surge could be attributed to a number of factors including Japan’s introduction of the technical trainee visa, relaxing of immigration restrictions for a number of countries and the recent increase in both student visas and tourism. The tourism boom itself has no doubt lit the curiosity of a some looking to try studying or working in this country.

Furthermore, the shrinking labour force would also be a catalyst for employers who have to began to search beyond Japan’s borders for potential employees, particularly as we see job vacancies rise too.

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