Approximately 40 local government officials from over 20 Japanese municipalities attended the seminar. The first speaker was an official of the Immigration Bureau of the Ministry of Justice, who spoke about the Japanese government’s new policy to admit low-skilled foreign workers starting as of April 2019. This plan is triggering a nationwide debate because it will be the first time for Japan to admit such workers officially.
The second part of the seminar was an online session with three speakers in Australia, from cities involved in the Council of Europe ICC programme. The session was moderated by Professor Yamawaki Keizo of Meiji University, a leading ICC expert in Japan, and the three speakers were Ms. Lynda Ford, the leading ICC expert in the Australian network, Ms. Frances Salenga, coordinator of cultural diversity of Ballarat City and Mr. Essan Dileri, intercultural development officer of Melton City. Ballarat and Melton are two of the intercultural cities in Australia which joined the ICC Programme recently.
Ms. Ford spoke about the significance of interculturalism in the Australian context and the emerging network of intercultural cities in Australia. Ms. Salenga and Mr. Dileri spoke about their city’s intercultural policies.
In addition, there was a session about the study visit to Geneva on human rights at the local level, which took place last October in the frame of the ICC Programme. The Japan Foundation sponsored the participation of three Japanese local government officials to the visit, and they reported on their experience.
The interest in intercultural policies and practices of foreign cities are growing since the Japanese government now seems more open to immigration.