Japan should copy apartheid race policies, says education adviser

‘Black people basically have a philosophy of large families,’ says adviser

Japanese education adviser Ayako Sono said the counrty’s labour shortage was ‘forcing the country to consider mass immigration’, but added that such policies would only work if the country segregated races. Photograph: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg

Japanese education adviser Ayako Sono said the counrty’s labour shortage was ‘forcing the country to consider mass immigration’, but added that such policies would only work if the country segregated races. Photograph: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg

 

An adviser on education policies to Japan’s right-wing government has sparked a major controversy by recommending that immigrants in the world’s third-largest economy be separated by race.

In a column for the conservative Sankei newspaper, Ayako Sono said apartheid-era South Africa showed that whites, Asians and blacks should live apart.

“Black people basically have a philosophy of large families,” she wrote. “For whites and Asians, it was common sense for a couple and two children to live in one complex. But blacks ended up having 20 to 30 family members living there.”

Ms Sono is a best-selling conservative author and a vocal supporter of prime minister Shinzo Abe’s efforts to revive patriotic education. Mr Abe appointed her to a panel on educational reform in 2013 but the government says she has since quit.

Prominent figures

She has also been quoted in a government-recommended textbook on morals for secondary school students, alongside Mother Theresa and other public prominent figures.

The column, written on Japan’s National Foundation Day, traditionally a holiday for expressing patriotism, sparked outrage, with online commentators branding them “disgusting” and “appalling”.

“So whilst the rest of the civilised world was condemning apartheid, Sono decided that she rather liked it, and now wants to bring it back,” wrote another blogger on the Japan Times website. “And she is a government appointment on an education panel?”

Japan’s government is mulling allowing 200,000 foreigners a year to enter the country amid a growing demographic crisis. The country’s population is ageing and declining, falling by nearly quarter of a million in 2013.

An advisory body to Shinzo Abe, the prime minister, said last year that opening the immigration drawbridge to more foreigners would eventually help stabilise the population – currently 127 million – “at around 100 million”.

The Asian powerhouse has so far shunned mass immigration. Less than two per cent of the population is foreign, and that includes hundreds of thousands of long-term residents from China and Korea.

Top government spokesman Yoshihide Suga sidestepped a question on whether Sono’s article reflected Mr Abe’s views at a regular press conference today, saying only that immigration policies would be “fair and based on the law”.

The Sankei defended running the column, saying it had a duty to run “all kinds of views”.

The newspaper was forced to apologise in December after it ran an advert blaming Jews for the country’s 2011 earthquake-tsunami tragedy.

In her column, Ms Sono says Japan’s chronic labour shortage is “forcing the country to consider mass immigration”, but added that after studying the situation in South Africa “for 30-40 years” such policies would only work if the country segregated races.