About two weeks ago I started an internship at an organisation that has been working not only to change Japan's immigration policies, but the ways that immigration, immigrants, and mulitculturalism are conceptualised. The executive director of this org is one of the most controversial figures in Japan's bureaucratic circles. He has gained a reputation as a Javert of immigration for his strict enforcement of the law, earning himself a law suit for the alleged inhumane treatment of deportees during his tenure as an immigration chief. On the other hand he is considered a maverick for refusing to ignore the problem of human trafficking, and for his outspoken views on the treatment of Japanese ethnic Koreans. Such actions earned him death threats, and de facto demotions from politicians who were benefitting from human trafficking, and illegal immigrant labour.
The main work that I will be carrying out will be to analyse and evaluate his activities using a theory of change based methodology. I will work with all of the org's directors to construct their theories of change, compare and contrast them, compare them to the context to measure their likely effectiveness, and finally use the findings of my report to help them construct a new organisation-wide theory of change, if needs be. Or something like that.
At the moment, my role is "researcher". It's what it says on my business card. However up until now my efforts have been concentrated on completing a first draft translation of a collection of essays written about policies towards non-Japanese, which the executive director hopes will generate new ideas and debate outside of the spheres of the usual suspects -Japan hands, and those with an interest in the country. My current understanding of his thinking is that he wants to reach people who don’t have any particular interest in, or knowledge of the Japanese context, and people who don’t speak or read Japanese. Indeed he writes in the foreword of the updated booklet that the people he most wants to read the book are the future immigrants who will be building a multicultural Japan hand in hand with young native Japanese. He also believes – to my knowledge – that the dissemination of his ideas will lead to the generation of constructive criticism, increased knowledge, and greater support for his proposal, which I imagine he believes will prompt a tangible policy-based response from the powers that be.