According to L.A. Times reporter Alexandra Zavis, who covers the crisis in Europe, explains the difference.
“Migrant is a broad term that includes refugees and those moving for economic reasons. Reporters use this term in Europe because many people in crisis are still on the move, and some of them may wish to return home one day. Immigrant refers to those who have moved to a foreign country with the intention of settling there.”
In the case of Japan, the ruling party holds that emphasis should be placed on Japanese women and elderly to work first before accepting immigrants, but policymakers are exploring ways to bring in more foreign workers without calling it “immigration.” Why? Because the word implies workers settling down permanently in Japan and not returning to their own country.
But no matter how deep the fear, the number of foreign workers will increase for the simple reason that the growth rate is low, population is decreasing and retirees are increasing. At one time, 12 workers supported 1 retiree. Today 2 workers for 1 retired person. The population is dropping at an alarming speed.
Concretely, what should Japan do? The most important step is for the government to create more opportunities for national discussions, national awareness and national debates. Looking around, immigration/migration is quietly happening, and no one is talking about it or preparing to deal with it.
Immigration/Migration can be something positive for Japan if handled properly, but if allowed to proceed without preparation could present dangers in the years to come.
How does the Catholic Church view this situation?
All Catholic social teaching must be understood in light of the absolute equality of all people and the commitment to the common good.
First Principle: People have the right to migrate to sustain their lives and the lives of their families. – Every person has an equal right to receive from the earth what is necessary for life – food, clothing, shelter. Moreover, every person has the right to education, medical care, religion, and the expression of one’s culture.
Second Principle: A country has the right to regulate its borders and to control immigration. – Because there seems to be no end to poverty, war, and misery in the world, developed nations will continue to experience pressure from many peoples who desire to resettle in their lands. Catholic social teaching is realistic: While people have the right to move, no country has the duty to receive so many immigrants that its social and economic life are jeopardized.
Third Principle: A country must regulate its borders with justice and mercy. – The second principle of Catholic social teaching may seem to negate the first principle. However, principles one and two must be understood in the context of principle three. And all Catholic social teaching must be understood in light of the absolute equality of all people and the commitment to the common good. A country’s regulation of borders and control of immigration must be governed by concern for all people and by mercy and justice. A nation may not simply decide that it wants to provide for its own people and no others. A sincere commitment to the needs of all must prevail.
Jerry Novotny, OMI