字幕表 動画を再生する 英語字幕をプリント Back when I was still learning Japanese, I used to turn on the news at night so I could try to up my language comprehension skills. After work, I'd turn on the tv, I'd sit down with my dinner and I'd just try to parse out whatever the newscaster was saying. One night, after the weather and the perp walks and the general BS, they brought on an interview that I actually understood. For the first time, I understood a full Japanese conversation. Or, at the very least, a single back and forth. The interviewer was a government minister and the newscaster turned to him and said: “With our population declining, and our economy stagnant we really only have two choices. We can either build better robots or we can let in immigrants.” And they turned to each other and laughed. The minister repeated the word back to him. Immigrants. And they laughed. Today's story is about Japan, and if I'm being honest, it's also about America. But more than that, it's about those damn immigrants. To the anti-immigration crowd, Japan is often treated as the example country. As the place where they are doing it right. Which to me is kind of funny. Because it essentially means that they're praising their ideological enemies, and it's not even actually true. But in that misunderstanding, I think we can see a highlighting of one of the biggest problems in politics around the world today. Which is that identity is no longer supported by its natural, economic backing. People are so quick online to send an angry tweet that I don't think they are really looking at what they are saying. And it's going to blow up in all of our faces. So to explain, I want to focus on Japan. Let's start with the good. Japan is an economic miracle. And not just for the successes of its post-war boom, but also the successes of its bust. Over the past 27 years, the Japanese economy has only grown at less than a 1% rate annually. That's less than a 1/3rd that of the United States. That's the lowest of any modern industrialized nation. And yet, Japanese workers haven't fallen behind. They've made just as much money as their American counterparts, and if you exclude the top ten percent of earners, they've overtaken them. When presented in the form of total assets, they're actually nearly double. 96,000 to 50. And it isn't just a lack of frivolous spending. Despite being hyper-capitalist on paper, you wouldn't be far off to call Japan socialist. After all, what is socialism if not what they've achieved here? They divide their wealth incredibly well. Better than virtually any other country on the planet. Especially countries this size. They have a near one-party state and yet, it still invests back into the economy to the point that their unemployment rate remains below 2%. The dream of any capitalist nation. They've got an incredibly successful form of universal healthcare, one which genuinely concerns itself with the long-term health of its citizens, and in turn they're among the longest lived people on the planet. Income inequality is among the lowest on earth. Japan has less than a third the poverty rate of the United States, and also a third of its uber-wealthy. In this being case defined as having assets under ten thousand and over a million, respectively. Infant mortality, literacy rates, homelessness, crime rates, and so much more are the envy of the world. The only problem is, without growth, all of this is unsustainable. And they know it. So let's look at the bad. To maintain their system, Japan has seen an eye-watering 236% debt-to-GDP ratio. And while much of the money has been taken out in publicly held yen, and is therefore more easily managed than that of the foreign held debt, it will still be their own undoing. The amount of interest paid per year is staggering, and yet another cause of their economic stagnation. To put it simply, they need more workers. They need more jobs. And they need more wealth. People cannot get an annualized salary increase if there's no money to increase it with. You can't employ 98% of your workers if you don't have the money to pay them. So, immigrants. But before I say more about Japan, I want to take a little swipe at the US. Because they're the ones that I find to be spreading the most misinformation about the immigration issue right now. I want to split the concept into three categories, intentional immigrants, illegal immigrants, and refugees. Because they're all different, and have entirely different effects on the economy. And in turn, from a purely economic standpoint, the people supporting them should be rather easy to delineate. But they aren't. Let's say you're a socialist. By which I mean that you believe workers in your society should be taken care of first and foremost. You believe that unemployment should be low, union should be strong, and wealth should be relatively equally divided. Ok. Well, then there is one group that you should support. Intentional immigrants. Statistically, at least in the West, an intentional immigrant will cause more wealth than a locally born person. They have a higher rate of entrepreneurship, and create more jobs than they fill in. In turn, they are a great source of tax revenue. They have, to put it simply, a positive effect on the total growth rate, unemployment and overall worker pay. The other two, however, not so much. At best, their positive effect is questionable, and for it to work to the local people's benefit entirely depends on how strong the system's desire is to spread that wealth. Much like shipping jobs overseas. It can work, but it's a much harder sell with many more pitfalls and an easier target for animosity. Certainly, they cause growth, but growth to what end? In effect, it becomes a moralistic choice. Almost an ideological one. However, if you're an ardent capitalist, the opposite tends to be true. Illegal immigration and refugees are good. They're desirable. You want them just as much, if not more, than the others. You want completely open borders. Again, talking economically. Because the more workers you have vying for a job, the lower the value of the individual worker applying for it. They raise the GDP because they work for less, which means more profit, which means more capital, and in turn while the average goes up as a whole, the individual worker gets less per year. The more people you can add to your system, especially people who are legally incapable of taking advantage of the national excesses, the better. Scabs ruin unions, so you'd have to be a pretty dumb rightist to be opposed to more scabs. But in America, as elsewhere in the West, the political parties have found a way to completely disassociate these economic realities from their respective brands. Obama tried incredibly hard to curb illegal immigration. He just did it quietly. Because his voters would have disagreed. Yet conversely, Trump employs thousands of illegal immigrants, only stopping when he's caught. He obviously doesn't want them to go anyway. Anyone studying the issue will tell you a wall won't work when nearly three quarters of all illegal immigrants come in by plane. Let alone all its other obvious faults. It's just performative art for the angry. People who would shoot themselves in the foot to pretend that screaming is the same as taking action. That xenophobia is the same as economic concern. But it's not like they can admit that they're wrong. There are two political parties, and most people love having a team to back. So they present it as culture. The reason that we can't have immigrants is because they'll change our culture. Because they'll never fit into our system that was built on immigration. So they point to Japan, a system not built on immigration. And they pretend that they can be the same. Look at how well they've done in the face of this new world order, they very unironically say out loud. It's just, it's not true. More and more every year, they've become accustomed to increased immigration. And not surprisingly, it was their furthest right-wing government in decades who opened their door the widest it's ever been. As their system comes closer and closer to collapse, they've recognized the bind they're in. With their population having peaked in 2008, and likely shrinking a full percent annually from here on out, they know they need workers. And just like all nations in their position, immigration is how they're going to get them. Yet just like everywhere, opposition remains. And much of it is xenophobic. They call it a loss of culture, which it is, that needs to be stated, but that's definitely not the core issue here. Almost everything changes the culture. Wealth changed the culture. Hell, look at the first major change Japan made when it tried to raise the growth rate. They inspired women to work. They tapped into that unused fifty percent. And that has caused major, fundamental changes to their culture. If the real issue was simply that they were trying to stay the same, well, they definitely wouldn't have done that. The reality is that culture is always changing, and there are ways to mitigate those negative effects. If a nation treats immigrants with acceptance and integration, then acceptance and integration work. There's a mountain of evidence to show that when a nation treats immigrants as normal, employable members of society, they integrate within a single generation. It doesn't matter where they are from. And although they're countless, the only other example I'll give here is from my own country. The biggest riot in Toronto's history was anti-Greek. Virtually everything you hear today about Muslims they said about Greeks a hundred years ago. It got so bad that mobs resorted to open violence in the streets. But nobody in the city would ever imagine that their descendants are a danger today. Because of course, they integrated. That's how it works. Yet even on top of all of that. On top of the economy and culture and xenophobia and whatever else the anti-immigration crowd is throwing at the wall to see what sticks, there's always the elephant in the room. If your population is declining, you're losing power. Not just economic, but militarily. In a world where nations sit with billions of citizens, a people of Japan's size cannot stop growing. They have to try to meet their neighbours as they are. Who will they use to fight the upcoming wars? Who will rattle their sabres when that foreign navy comes to their harbours? How do they protect themselves if they have nobody to stand up and yell Banzai? It's a harsh question, but one every nation must think about. And they do think about it. Service age men and women are a requirement of every society. Not just for the labour market, but as warm fodder for the cannons. Even if those cannons never actually fire. And without immigration, that's simply not an option. That's why they're letting them in. That's why we're letting them in. Immigration is an incredibly touchy topic, with much more complexity than two diametric poles of yay and nay could ever summarize. I personally am truly supportive of the low-income worker. I believe they're the ones who need to be taken care of the most. The house that's on fire should get the water. In that respect, I often find myself aligning with somewhat protectionist, unionist policies. But I'm also aware that those policies cannot be sustained without growth. The world is more complicated than ideology, and everything has a balance. My family are immigrants. My wife is an immigrant. And my country is better for us being in it. But there has to be a limit. An understanding. A recognition that the benefits have to be weighed against the reality of the situation. Because after all, what values do we hold? Who are we here to protect? What is an economy for? There are no right answers to these questions. So does Japan have the perfect nation? Well, of course not. There is no perfect nation. But they do have a great nation. Because they've tried incredibly hard to protect their children, their workers and their culture. They just made one fatal mistake. When that newscaster asked that question all those years ago, they laughed. They thought that if they shut their eyes hard enough, they'd never have to see reality. And even though it wasn't a joke, they laughed. This is Rare Earth.