As was mentioned previously, based on The Basic Policy of Promotion of Osaka Prefecture Globalization drawn up in 1992, Osaka prefecture makes efforts to “build communities where, beyond nationality or ethnicity, all people respect each other as human-beings and live together with acceptance of their differences” in terms of human rights awareness, living, medical, public health, welfare, education, participation in prefectural politics and other realms. Also, to promote this, all departments of the Osaka prefectural government office try to forge forward with the policy, considering the discussion at Blue-Ribbon panels and utilizing liaison meetings in Osaka prefectural government office (hereon referred to as the “Liaison Meeting”) about matters related to our foreign residents.
However, compared with the current situations surrounding foreign residents, the challenges below remain present to achieve a “co-existing society where people can live together.”
(1) Fields related to increasing human rights awareness
To help residents in the prefecture deepen their knowledge of the challenges regarding foreign residents, Osaka prefecture promotes awareness activities such as publishing videos and leaflets, and holding symposiums.
Also, to equalize opportunities for employment and promote fair hiring, Osaka prefecture designated June each year as the Elimination of Employment Discrimination Month and publicizes this accordingly. In addition, Osaka prefecture makes employers aware of the need to practice a fair hiring process by promotion of the fair hiring and human rights awareness member system, and in the fiscal year 1999, the nationality requirement for taking the administrative career examination for all general divisions’ positions was eliminated.
On matters regarding property rental, along with the establishment of
consultation services on real estate transactions, Osaka prefecture tries to make the industry aware of its equal opportunity responsibilities by offering human rights seminars and leaflets designed to raise awareness.
However, when a foreign national attempts to be employed or rent property, in some cases, due to the difference of nationality or ethnicity, they are refused hire or property rental. Therefore, a degree of prejudice and a sense of discrimination against foreign nationals still persists.
In Osaka prefecture, incidents such as harassment of foreign national students and verbal and physical abuse towards them has been documented. Also, discrimination cases are reported such as in job interviews, some employers have asked applicants’ nationalities, although this is irrelevant to their aptitudes. Employers have required some foreign employees to use a Japanese (nick) name, and furthermore, workplace graffiti with discriminative and abusive epithets specific to foreign nationals have been allowed to remain in plain view.
In some regions, it is reported that foreign nationals were refused entry a shop or public bathhouse.
Also, compared with Japanese citizens, foreign national workers are relatively in a disadvantaged position in terms of wages and working hours, and problems such as unpaid wages or being forced to work unpaid overtime still occur.
To solve these situations, it is important to strive further to eradicate prejudice and discrimination. On all opportunities, by actively promoting approaches such as education and enlightenment for residents, as well as enhancing the education and enlightenment about equal human rights entitlement, it is important to promote mutual understanding between foreign nationals having diverse cultures and habits and Japanese through opportunities to get acquainted.
(2) Fields related to living in Japan
Due to insufficient Japanese proficiency, it can be difficult for foreign residents to take advantage of various services related to living or finding an organization offering consultation services when a problem occurs, and anxiety often arises.
To ease such anxiety, it is recognized that Osaka must provide opportunities for the study of Japanese language as well as offering information on such programs and courses, and enhance consultation services.
Osaka prefecture opened the Osaka Information Service for Foreign Residents in 1993, which provides consultation services in 7 languages: English, Korean (Note4), Chinese, Portuguese, Spanish, the Philippines’ Tagalog and Thai. Also, on the multilingual FM radio, municipal administrative and living information announcements are broadcast in 4 languages: English, Korean, Chinese and Spanish. In addition, on the Osaka Prefecture website, English, Korean and Chinese pages are published to provide municipal administrative information.
From now on, on the provision of information, as well as on the increase in the number of foreign languages used in printed matters and spreading them at convenient places for foreign residents, it is necessary to create an environment which makes foreign residents’ daily lives easier such as promoting the usage of foreign language signs at main public facilities, terminals and on our highways and roads.
Also, as well as further publicity of the Osaka Information Service for Foreign Residents and diversification of consultation subjects, for other consultation services, it is required to enhance ties to the foreign community to organize multilingual consultations.
(3) Fields related to medical, public health and welfare
In order for foreign residents to enjoy a healthy life without anxiety, it is required to create an environment that allows them to partake of medical, public health and welfare services easily.
Especially, when they become ill, some foreign residents may not know which medical institutions they should seek care at, so the provision of detailed information on medical and healthcare services in several foreign languages is essential.
From this point of view, Osaka prefecture provides listing information on medical institutions and medical consultation services where foreign languages are available in multilingual guidebooks and English websites. In addition, Osaka Prefecture endeavors to offer multilingual healthcare information on the prevention of various contagious diseases.
However, since some foreign nationals are not insured by medical insurance and cannot pay expensive medial fees, it can be difficult for them to see a doctor. To absorb outstanding medical fees from uninsured foreign nationals’ treatment, and thus prevent them from being barred from treatment, in fiscal year 1996, for emergency medical institutions, a subsidization system to cover a portion of the outstanding amounts was made, but other medical institutions such as hospitals are not covered to date.
In addition, as for welfare services, especially for our elderly Korean residents, it is difficult for foreign nationals to understand publicized information thoroughly and to enjoy available public services due to language barriers and habitual differences.
Furthermore, among the elderly or disabled foreign residents, some have failed to become a beneficiary (Note. 5) of the national health insurance because the Japanese nationality requirement existed since its establishment. Suitable measures to rectify this situation are still required.
(4) Fields related to education
In regards to education for foreign residents, it is required to create an environment where the foreign residents can use their real names and maintain pride and keep an awareness and connection with their native culture, heritage, ethnicity and national traditions. In addition, it is required to teach the Japanese language well to the newly arrived students in Japan and educate them so that they may achieve self-fulfillment and choose their future course of life with true freedom.
Also, in the midst of globalization, it is required to promote education for the enhancement of communication abilities as well as further understanding of different cultures. To do that, it is necessary for students to meet and communicate, cooperate with foreign nationals in local communities and build direct contacts with other cultures. Promotion of further cultural exchange opportunities with pupils and students abroad is needed as well.
From such a point of view, in Osaka, the Educational Policy for Korean Residents in Japan was drawn up in 1988 and The human rights education basic policy / human rights education promotion plan to promote comprehensive human rights education was devised in 1999. Also, from 1990 to 1992, a Faculty of International Education was established in every school district with prefectural high schools. In addition, from fiscal year 2001, at the entrance exam of prefectural high schools, the special measures for students who have returned from China and foreign students have been taken. This helps to promote education for foreign residents. Various educational measures to help students understand the world we share are employed, thus.
Henceforth, network creation for informational exchange between schools is required to allow students to interchange brilliant practical examples and results of their research.
Yet, as for foreign schools, while there is a degree of support that aims to promote international exchange, still some challenges exist, such as the fact that the international exchange program in some foreign countries is implemented only in vocational schools as defined by a foreign educational act. In countries that relegate their international exchange program to vocational schools only, the schools’ graduates are not qualified to take the national university's entrance exams. So, change is still needed.
(5) Fields related to participation to municipal politics
It is required to collect and include the opinions of foreign residents who have various cultural and historical backgrounds and pay taxes, contribute in our society with equality, to been afforded an equal voice in local politics. Osaka prefecture established The Blue-Ribbon Panel to tarry in the collection of a wide range of opinions in terms of tasks concerning foreign residents and measures Osaka prefecture should tackle, and the prefecture promotes policies for foreign residents languidly. Recently, Osaka prefecture tries to address foreign national committee members’ participation to relevant councils deliberately.
To appoint a committee for the council, due to the concern for installation purposes, it is necessary to try to appoint a wide range of peoples including a token foreign resident.
Also, in public opinion polls for the prefectural administration, from the year 2000, foreign residents were included in the scope of research. Furthermore, the national government ambles on the issue of voting rights of foreign residents in local elections, and it draws attention these days to the issue laggardly.