Multi-American | How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

A 'cautionary tale' from Japan and other global immigration policy lessons

CNN had a smart idea for an immigration-related television special: As the United States continues to grapple with what direction to take on immigration, why not take a close look at other nations' immigration policies in comparison? Hosted by CNN Global Public Square's Fareed Zakaria, "Global Lessons: The GPS Roadmap for Making Immigration Work" aired last Sunday; it airs again this coming Saturday on CNN International.

The immigration policies of Europe, Canada and Japan are examined, with some eye-opening details. For example, Japan is presented as "a cautionary tale." From a posted excerpt:

Japan has one of the strictest immigration policies in the world and has historically been closed off to outsiders. It has a foreign population of less than 2% - six times smaller than the percentage of the U.S.

But what are the effects of keeping foreigners out?

Japan is facing an alarming labor shortage, says Robert Guest, the business editor of The Economist and author of "Borderless Economics."

Japan"s current population is around a 127 million. It"s on pace to be just 90 million by 2050, a drop-off of almost one-third. The nation is also aging. Almost one in four people are 65 or older " making Japan the oldest country on earth.

Guest says there"s a solution to the labor shortage: open the borders and invite more immigrants.

But that idea has hurdles.

"They don't have the idea that you can become Japanese," says Guest. "And they don't have the idea that you can solve some of the country's chronic labor problems by importing foreign hands."

Read more at: