When you talk about the issue of public safety and acts of violence in Japan, nobody knows for sure the situation as much as TakajiKunimatsu.
The previous chief of the National Police Agency has handled some important criminal activities during the span of his career, including the Asama Sanso Incident of 1972. That incidence was a hostage clash between five armed members of the Red Army and a variety of terrorist violence including AumShinrikyo’s attack with sarin gas in 1995 on the Tokyo subway.
While Japan has not been attacked by foreign terrorist groups such as the Islamic state, experts and many members of the public are worried that the country faces such risk as more and more people will visit, study and work here.
Kunimatsu sees things a little differently and is leading a plan for Japan to accept more foreigners to solve their population problems.
"People have the impression that the police as a whole are against migration and think I'm insane," said Kunimatsu, himself a victim of a terrorist attack, in an interview with The Japan Times this week.
Exactly Ten days after the March 1995 gas attack, which caused panic in government and law enforcement agencies, and eight days after police conducted attacks against Aum, Kunimatsu was seriously injured. Kunimatsu took three bullets - in the abdomen and other parts of his body. He retired as head of the NPA in 1997.
"But if you reason critically, you will grasp why it is imperative to have a proper system to take in and handle foreigners better, not only to cope with demographic decline but also to improve public safety."
The proposal by Kunimatsu arrives at a period when Prime Minister Shinzo Abe continues to evade any real talks on immigration rules, partly because of the palpable fears of the citizens that opening the country’s border to immigrants could put them at risk.
However, according to Kunimatsu, the most important question now emerging in Japan is not national security or the economy - two of Abe's political priorities - but a decline in population.
The prime minister discussed the problem of depopulation by attempting to use more women, including mothers and the elderly, as virgin sources of labor and also constructing nurseries and prolonging retirement age. But Kunimatsu argued that these steps were not sufficient to close the job gap, and Tokyo should seriously consider immigration.
Kunimatsu adds, however, that Japan must be selective in the kind of attributes it welcomes in its acceptance of foreign residents, such as their fluency in Japanese or the desire to live in peace with other members of society and their potential to contribute to Japan as well as their desire to build their future here.
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