TIM BUNTING

KIWI YAMABUSHI

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Japanese immigration and the education system

I’ve been reading Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini, a book I decided to buy after hearing about it on a recent Freakonomics podcast. So far I’m about 100 pages into this 500ish page tome, and I have to say I am quite enjoying it.

There’s a part where Cialdini talks about multi-racial schools that really piqued my interest as I’ve always wondered how Japan would be if they were more welcoming to non-Japanese people.

If you want to know, I am extremely pro-immigration if it means taking in people who are escaping some of the very harrowing places I have heard firsthand accounts of. This is of course because of the human reason, but also because these people in general contribute quite a lot to the economy as well (will have to find my sources, sorry).

In that regard, I would like Japan to accept more immigrants than it currently does, but this does of course come with the caveat (or possible caveat) that doing so would affect the social harmony.

I have no doubt that it would, unless a few precautions were in place. Cialdini’s book highlights some ideas that I think on a large scale might work. One of which was that if schools are focused on students competing against one another, then multiracial schools aren’t exactly a good idea. However, if the onus is on collaboration for mutual benefit, then things do go relatively well.

My thinking goes, this means for there to be any chance that this could succeed, we would need an overhaul of the education system to focus on that collaboration for mutual benefit, rather than the current system that is very much focused on competition amongst students. I should mention that this does not mean there should be no competition, friendly competition can be a great motivator, rather it should be accompanied with these opportunities for collaboration for mutual benefit. As it currently stands, there is a lot of competition here, even amongst seemingly similar types of people, that for someone from the outside just looks like petty infighting that really gets you nowhere (Sakata and Tsuruoka for example, although this does seem to be changing).

I realise I’m both stereotyping and generalizing quite a lot, so please don’t take this thought experiment literally, but you’re smart enough to know that, right?

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Sakata City, Yamagata, Japan 

tim@timbunting.com

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