Influx of Foreign Residents Prompts Japanese Schools to Respect Religious Diversity

With the revision of Japan’s immigration laws that took effect last April 1, 2019, the country has effectively opened widers doors of employment opportunities for foreign nationals coming from different countries across the globe. This is especially true in the fourteen identified sectors currently suffering from chronic labor shortage including but not limited to agriculture, nursing, food and service and construction industries. In fact, the Japanese government hopes to attract more than three hundred forty thousand foreign residents over the next five years.

 

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In view of the rising number of foreign nationals in Japan, the government encouraged educational institutions and day care centers to be extra sensitive to the dietary constraints of their enrollees from various religious affiliations. At present, only a very few educational facilities offer a broad selection of food choices that include halal certified dishes for students with a special kind of diet based on their religion.

 

This issue stemmed from a complaint by a Bangladeshi couple in Yokkaichi, Mie Prefecture after they decided to withdraw their daughter’s enrollment from a local day care center because of its failure to give a positive response to their request for special lunch allocation. Most of the day care centers in Yokkaichi do not allow the school children to bring their own food for lunch. As such, the Bangladeshi father appealed to remove pork from his daughter’s food considering that the family is Muslim. Recently, the family found out that the girl had been eating fried noodles with pork for lunch since January 2019.

 

Miyuki Enari, one of the highly recognized professors at Mie University’s Faculty of Humanities, Law and Economics urged government officials and school staff to get to know more about the diversity of religious belief systems. He further stated that, “It is better if they have a place to consult or obtain information when they face difficulties coping with such issues.”

 

Meanwhile, Maryan Ryoko Totani, the head of the Children and Women Islamic Association in Nagoya said that “As Japan becomes more multinational, food choices become more diverse.” According to her, “Foreign people will not choose to come to Japan unless the nation has a proper understanding (of diverse customs).”

 

Reference: Schools urged to modify lunches for religious needs as foreign population grows

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