Sunday, May 27, 2012

Status of Residence System

We will analyze the Status of Residence System (SRS) of Japan as an input, breakdown its expected process and intended outputs, and see how the cTm wedges itself in this equation.  Figure 13 converts the SRS into a two-axes framework.

Figure 13:  Status of Residence System (SRS) as Duration and Productivity Axes
SRS as Input:

Instituted in 1981 as Japan’s framework for immigration control (Mori 1997), SRS has two components, expressed as a formula as follows:  status or position + authorized activities = SRS (Japan Immigration Bureau 1994).  Status or position is essentially a proxy for the variable ‘duration,’ expressed in time (months/years), plotted on the x-axis of Figure 13.  Authorized activities is, I argue, a proxy for the variable ‘productivity’ – or the unit of output produced per unit of input – as plotted on the y-axis in Figure 13.   This is because “authorized activities” essentially refers to the control of the labor variable input of foreigners, that is, the right to work in Japan.

Figure 14 (below) thus plots duration against productivity, culling out four core SRS status groups.  Except for ethnic-based statuses (arrow b - Koreans/Taiwanese special permanent residents, permanent residents, Nikkeijin/Japanese descendant long-term residents, spouse/child of Japanese – to be discussed in further detail below), all statuses have residency permissions with finite durations, as shown by the direction of the arrows heading towards the left, or heading back to the source country.  Duration is correlated with productivity, that is, the greater a migrant’s type and permission to work – as shown by the steeper arrow incline, the longer the allowed periods of stay (seen thru the vertical lines along arrows) and, corollary to this, the more lenient the application of renewal requirements.

Figure 14:  SRS  – Four Status Groups
Arrow c, d and b (Specialists, etc) have zero productivity incline as they are either fully prohibited from working or are restricted to a particular type of work and a particular company.  Highly-skilled migrants (arrow a) have the greatest productivity (steepest arrow incline) since they are offered a slew of motivators – including, for example, allowing household helpers to be brought in from the source country, or allowing multiple activities (read as: work) to be done.  While there are still limits to their duration of stay(arrow heading left), the SRS system has built in generous permanent residency options (small arrows heading back to the right side) within the program.  It must also be noted though that duration limits are applied even to ethnic-based statuses which, theoretically, have no limits to their residency period in Japan (arrow heading toward right side).

SRS as Process:

Duration and productivity as SRS inputs then funnel through the Japanese bureaucracy in a process implemented by the local government and enforced by the local police.  The Alien Registration System in Japan, recently abolished and now nationalized thru the 2012 New Residency Management System, was handled previously by local governments (the role of the local government in the analysis of this paper will thus be analyzed retrospectively).  In terms of SRS enforcement, while regional or national immigration officers may also conduct inspections, raids or other immigration control activities at the local level, it is the local police that have a consistent presence at the community level.

SRS as Output:

Inputting duration and productivity rules and implemented locally by the local government and police, the intended output thus will be foreigners whose existence in the country are compliant with a defined timeframe and defined activities.

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