Japan in Their Own Words (JITOW)/日本からの意見

Implications of France's Immigration Policy
FUJIMAKI Hideki  / Professor, Hokkaido University of Education

March 27, 2015
"Apartheid in France" … This sensational headline was all over French newspapers in late January. In his New Year's speech to journalists, Prime Minister Valls said, in referring to the attack on the weekly newspaper in Paris, "A geographic, social, ethnic apartheid has developed in our country." What the Prime Minister had in mind was the areas in Paris suburbs crowded by low-rent housing, populated by many Muslim immigrants and deteriorating into slums.
There are two main currents in the immigration policy in Europe, namely multiculturalism and assimilation. Britain is a leading example of the former, but Prime Minister Cameron has stated unequivocally that state multiculturalism has failed in Britain. As different cultures have been encouraged to live separate lives, there has been little progress in the social integration of immigrants, giving rise instead to communities segregated from British society. Why is it, then, that segregated communities have emerged in France, which has pursued assimilation, the exact opposite of Britain's policy?

France has many immigrants from North Africa including Algeria, and its Muslim inhabitants account for 7.5% of the whole population. They came into France as workers during the high growth period of the post-WWII years. New inflow of immigrants was stopped after the oil crisis, but those who had come in stayed on, and were permitted on humanitarian grounds to bring their families to join them.

France is a nation built on the ideals of the Republic that recognizes the equality of individuals under the law irrespective of race, religion and other attributes. This applies to the question of social integration of immigrants as well. When an immigrant brings his family to join him, the family member is obliged to learn the French language and understand the values of the Republic. Its nationality law has been traditionally based on jus soli, i.e. the attribution of French nationality by birth, and immigrants' children born in France can easily obtain French nationality.

The phrase "clash of Western and Islamic civilizations" is bandied about, perhaps too often. In actual fact, it is often the case that the second-generation Muslim immigrants in France neither speak Arabic nor go to mosques. An increasing number of them marry French nationals, resulting in a much higher out-marriage rate (the ratio of immigrants who marry the members of their host ethnic group) than is the case with Turkish immigrants in Germany. Thus it is fair to say that the Muslim immigrants in France are being culturally integrated.
The biggest problem facing the Muslim immigrants is unemployment. The unemployment rate in France, where the economy is stagnating, is about 10%, and the problem of youth unemployment is acute, especially among the second and third generation immigrants. The French government has designated those high-priority areas for city policy, such as suburban areas heavily populated by immigrants, as the ZUS (Zones urbaines sensibles in French. Sensitive Urban Zones). The unemployment rate in these zones for those between 15 and 29 years of age is as high as 45%.
The high rate of unemployment for immigrant youths is attributable to their lack of education and professional qualifications. However, for those with equal educational credentials, the unemployment for immigrants is higher than the average for their French counterparts. There are a number of cases of discrimination in the job-hunting process, where their Islamic names, colours of skin, places of residence and other factors stand in the way of their advancing to the interview stage. For those French-born second and third generation immigrants, the problem is not cultural integration but the lack of economic and social integration.

As both multiculturalism and assimilation face an impasse, there is a move afoot in Europe to search for a new immigration policy. This is the Intercultural Cities project conceived by the Council of Europe. It is similar to multiculturalism in the sense of respecting diversity. But, instead of simply juxtaposing different cultures, it aims to achieve social integration by facilitating intercultural interaction and inclusion, thus inducing changes on the part of both the immigrants and the host society.

If we look across the world, not a few countries place the acceptance of immigrants as an important part of their national development strategy. Japan is about to go into a sharp demographic decline and a serious labour shortage looms ahead. It is highly likely that we will be forced by necessity at some point to consider seriously accepting immigrants from abroad.

The examples of "European failures" are often cited in Japan as a reason for opposing the acceptance of immigrants. However, it is better to see Europe as undergoing a process of trial and error in search of a better immigration policy. Now is the time for us to learn from the "European experiences".

Hideki Fujimaki is former Paris bureau chief of Nihon Keizai Shimbun.
The English-Speaking Union of Japan

藤巻 秀樹 / 北海道教育大学教授

2015年 3月 27日



 よく「西欧とイスラムの文化の衝突」などという言葉が安易に使われるが、フランスのイスラム系移民2世の中にはアラビア語を話せず、モスクに行かない若者も珍しくない。 フランス人との結婚も増えており、ドイツのトルコ系移民などに比べ、外婚率(移民が受け入れ民族と結婚する比率)は非常に高い。フランスのイスラム系移民は文化的には統合されつつあるといえる。





一般社団法人 日本英語交流連盟

English Speaking Union of Japan > Japan in Their Own Words (JITOW) > Implications of France's Immigration Policy