A Reuters investigation has revealed that Kurdish asylum seekers in Japan are working without permits on government projects – building Japan’s roads and sewers – even as the authorities insist they leave. Japan’s strict immigration rules and shrinking working-age population have spawned a black market in labor, especially in the construction sector. Still, politicians are loath to consider lowering barriers to migrant workers, despite calls from major Japanese companies to do so.
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Everywhere, the contradiction between a push for border controls based on fantasised threats of migrant invasion and identity politics, on the one hand, and the imperious needs of globalised markets for exploited labour which maintains competitiveness, on the other, creates more Kafkaesque human rights situations for migrants. Once again, “facilitating mobility”, as Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development calls for, is the only long term solution.