What is "multicultural harmony?"
"Multicultural harmony" refers to people of different nationalities and/or races recognizing each other's cultural differences, working to build equal relationships, and living together as members of the same community.
From the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications' "Research Report on the Promotion of Multicultural Harmony," March 2006
As of the end of 2005, the number of foreigners registered in Ibaraki Prefecture has reached 54,297, or about 1.8% of the total population of the prefecture. As the Japanese population decreases due to the low birthrate, and the acceptance of foreign workers in specialized and technical fields increases, we can expect this percentage to increase. Many of these foreigners consider Japan as their primary place of residence, due to work, marriage, et cetera. However, there are also times when problems arise from differences in customs.
In these circumstances, it is important that Japanese people understand that these foreigners are residents just like themselves, and work together to build better communities.
While we use "international exchange" to refer to the idea of welcoming foreign visitors and trying to have them return to their home countries having had a good experience in Japan, "multicultural harmony" involves viewing foreign residents as residents, working to build relationships as equal members of the same community, and developing systems that encourage foreigners to participate in society.
While "foreigner support" refers to the idea of helping foreigners who are bewildered by Japan's society, "multicultural harmony" involves recognizing that foreign residents are not just recipients of support, but are also constituents that support the community in their own right. As such, "multicultural harmony" includes having foreign residents take part in planning community development.
There would be many benefits to achieving multicultural harmony:
- Stimulation of the economy due to accumulation of industry
An influx of foreign researchers, engineers, and other talented individuals would lead to a buildup of industry and stimulation of the economy.
- Prevention of societal unrest
Mutual understanding between Japanese citizens and foreign residents would help in preventing problems in daily life, crime, et cetera.
- Deepening of cross-cultural understanding
Cross-cultural communication on a regular basis would help to deepen understanding of other cultures.
- Improvement of the prefecture's image
Creating a society that's easy for foreigners to live in would bolster the image of the prefecture.
Nation, prefecture, municipalities, non-profit organizations, volunteer organizations, and others cooperate to promote multicultural harmony. Most important of all is mutual understanding between Japanese citizens and foreign residents.
Shows a fundamental attitude of accepting foreigners.
Responds to large-scale issues.
Provide direct support to local foreigners (living arrangements, education, medical treatment, et cetera).
- International Associations
Put on exemplary projects.
- Non-governmental/non-profit organizations
Work together with local governments and international associations to support foreign residents.
With the number of prefectural residents of foreign nationality predicted to continue to increase, it is important for people of different cultural backgrounds to work together to further multicultural harmony, both to build more livable communities, and to develop the prefecture as a whole.
To move towards making multicultural harmony a reality, Ibaraki Prefecture is implementing the following measures.
- Ibaraki Foreigners' Roundtable
- Multicultural Regional Development Project
- Multicultural Harmony Symposium
This symposium is a forum for Japanese citizens and foreign residents, whether they be volunteers or any other interested individuals or groups, to exchange ideas on "multicultural harmony."
- Foreign Labor Workshop