by Hiroko Tabuchi
Thursday, April 23, 2009
The New York Times
Officials in Hamamatsu, an industrial town in central Japan, describe the plan to encourage Latin American guest workers, who are descendants of Japanese emigrants, to return home.
Rita Yamaoka, a mother of three who immigrated from Brazil, recently lost her factory job here. Now, Japan has made her an offer she might not be able to refuse.
The government will pay thousands of dollars to fly Mrs. Yamaoka; her husband, who is a Brazilian citizen of Japanese descent; and their family back to Brazil. But in exchange, Mrs. Yamaoka and her husband must agree never to seek to work in Japan again.
Japan’s offer, extended to hundreds of thousands of blue-collar Latin American immigrants, is part of a new drive to encourage them to leave this recession-racked country. So far, at least 100 workers and their families have agreed to leave, Japanese officials said.
But critics denounce the program as shortsighted, inhumane and a threat to what little progress Japan has made in opening its economy to foreign workers.