High Life

Come to Your Sensei

February 25, 2017

I’ve installed a makiwara in the back of my chalet, a makiwara being a wooden stand topped with straw where one hardens his knuckles and wrists by punching nonstop. There is one for the legs, too, this being my invention. But back to Japan: It has very little illegal immigration and is officially closed to people seeking blue-collar work. But many Japanese industries are suffering from labor shortages that have helped put the brakes on economic growth. Hence some fundamental assumptions about immigrants had to change. A government-sponsored internship program provides the mostly Chinese workers with skills, its purpose being to square the circle between Japan’s labor shortage and its ban on low-wage immigration.

One of the reasons countries like Japan and Switzerland work as well as they do is that neither country automatically confers citizenship—or rights, for that matter—to anyone who has managed to enter, legally or illegally. One needs to earn the right; otherwise, out. The fat cats in Brussels haven’t the guts to actually declare that there is no free lunch, because having enjoyed only free lunches throughout their life, it might make them sound hypocritical. But no sooner had the Chinese arrived in Japan than they started to bleat about low wages and bad treatment. They remind me of the migrants I saw in Athens last year, from Afghanistan and Somalia. They were complaining about their Greek hosts. But I know very few Greeks who asked the migrants to visit Greece, even in transit. Ah, how nice it must feel to criticize hard-hearted folks like the poor little Greek boy while sitting in a comfortable office spewing out drivel about the brotherhood of man.

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