Who is a Migrant?
Migrants in Japan include so-called “Foreign residents in Japan” (old comers), those people from former Japanese colonies, Korea, North Korea and China, who had no choice but to migrate and live here and their descendents, and “new comers” who came to work in Japan from 1980. Not counting the 500,000 “old comers” with special permanent residence, it is estimated that there are 1,500,000 migrant workers (including about 200,000 who are “overstayers”, that is undocumented peoples) quoted from the homepage of “The National Network for Solidarity with Migrant Workers”.
According to the statistics reported at the end of 2004 by the Immigration Office of the Ministry of Justice, the number of foreigners registered in Japan, as of the end of 2003, was 1,973,747, 1.55% of the total population of Japan (up 45.8% compared to 10 years ago). Registration of 188 countries in the world (at present, it is said, there are 200 countries in the world but as of the end of 2004there are 191 member countries of the United Nations), we know that people from almost all over the world are migrating to Japan.
According to the 2005 statistics, there are about 529,452 foreign Catholics in Japan. For the first time there are more foreign Catholics than the 449,925 Japanese Catholics, and the total number of Catholics in Japan rose 54%.
There are a variety of reasons for so many foreigners to live in Japan. With this amount of peoples living here as our neighbors, it is a given that we form a society that aims to co-exist with different nationalities and different cultures. This commission also, in the reality of living together in a multi cultural society, is aiming at a multi cultural church, cooperating with the person in charge and the commission members of each diocese to deal with issues transcending diocesan identities. Many civilian groups have formed with the aim to live in society together with these people from different countries and cultures.