THE "NIKKEI" LAW
Immigrant Population: 1.7 million
What the law does: Japan has long struggled with its demographics and immigration problems. Although the country's aging population necessitates the importing of cheap labor, recently the Japanese government has sought to curtail immigration in an effort to shore up its unprecedentedly high unemployment figures. The most infamous of Tokyo's new anti-immigration policies is the "Nikkei" Law. Passed in spring 2009, the law allows the Japanese government to pay $3,000 to each unemployed Latin American immigrant of Japanese descent (known as Nikkei in Japanese) and $2,000 to each of that unemployed worker's family members to return to their country of origin. The catch? These workers and their family members would be prohibited from ever returning to work in Japan. An estimated 366,000 Brazilians and Peruvians lived in Japan at the time.
Reactions: Although the law is voluntary, it's nevertheless stirred up a deal of controversy within Japan. Some support the measure as being economically prudent, while others, such as Angelo Ishi of Musashi University in Tokyo, describe the law as "an insult" to Japan's immigrant communities. Much of the Western press has taken a relatively neutral stance on the issue, aside from Time, which ran a story with the headline "Japan to Immigrants: Thanks, But You Can Go Home Now."