Source: "Hidden masses"
Japan has always been a homogenous country. Less than 2% of its population are foreigners (compared to 16% for France and 4% for North Korea). A recent poll showed Japanese split 50-50 in support of letting more foreign workers into Japan (although 60% of those between 18 and 29 were in favor of letting in more workers while 30% of those over 70 opposed it). The Japanese government has been historically cool to the issue. From the article: "The case of nikkeijin, immigrants of Japanese extraction, is instructive. They have the right to move to Japan based on family ties and so provide an easy way around the restrictions on low-skilled migrants. In theory they should be easy to integrate; many are familiar with the culture and speak some Japanese. In practice, however, the government has made no effort to help them. The children of nikkeijin do worse in school than those of other immigrants. The clearest sign of the government’s ambivalence came in 2008, when the economy took a turn for the worse and unemployment rose. It offered nikkeijin free flights and other subsidies to move back to their home countries if they promised not to return."
Currently, there are 1.3 million foreign workers in Japan or 2% of the workforce, an all-time high. The Japanese government is allowing more immigration to occur via a Designated Skills visa that prioritizes workers in the agriculture, nursing and construction fields.