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以前も紹介したことのあるフリーペーパーのメトロポリスの巻末のthe last wordというエッセイをご紹介します。今回はメトロポリス創刊20周年にちなんで日本に来る外国人のタイプの変遷について語っています。

the last word
Gaijin Evolution
From seekers and slackers to strivers and thrivers
May 23, 2013 | Issue: 1000 | One Comment | 684 views

サブタイトルからも想像できるように、seekers and slackersとstrivers and thriversの2つに分けて前者から後者への流れを扱っているようです。まずはseekers and slackersから、モラトリアム中の若者の行き先としてお金稼ぎやエキゾチックな目的地として日本が選ばれていたようです。ALTなんかもこちらに分類されてしまうのでしょうか。

Like many new expat arrivals, I knew little about Japan other than it was the land of sushi, Sony, and Kurosawa—and that its economy was red hot. I alighted at Narita and within a week joined a small army of eikaiwa sensei in one of history’s more quixotic efforts at linguistic exchange.

The economy was booming, the biru flowing, and it wasn’t hard for young Western grads to enjoy some Eastern soul searching and adventure, while profiting off the backs of Japan’s hardworking sararimen and long-suffering housewives.

Japan’s Western population was exploding. Yes, there were a few karate students and Zen disciples among us. But the main draw for most was easy wages earned in a rising currency.

strivers and thriversの方はバブルがはじけた後に日本に来るタイプで、来日前から日本語もある程度できて、村上春樹や村上隆、宮崎アニメなどの知識があり、目的地として日本を選んで、ある程度長くいる覚悟ができている感じです。

Western twenty-somethings landing at Narita today often already speak Japanese. Thanks to the internet and the “Cool Japan” phenomenon, they know a lot more about Japanese culture. Less a land of Oriental mystery, it’s the world of the Murakamis (Haruki and Takeshi), Ichiro, Miyazaki—and a thousand expat blogs.

Though fewer in number, young Westerners frequently arrive with marketable skills aside from native English, and can integrate more quickly into Japanese companies. They also help fill the tech-savvy ranks of the Google and Apple crowds who have replaced the Roppongi Hills bankers, or are themselves tech entrepreneurs.

著者自らがstrivers and thriversだからでしょうか、そちらの方に好意的に書いています。生活し定着しようとしているので、派手な生活はしていないけど、日本で働いて、結婚をして、堅実に暮らすことで、日本でイノベーションを起こすことに貢献できるのではと書いています。ノバの倒産は外国人英語教師についてはリーマンショックと並ぶ事件だったようですね(苦笑)。

Nova, Lehman and Fukushima left more of the reduced group acculturated and/or biracial—even if they’re still only a sliver of Japan’s population. Immigration policies have been redesigned to make things easier, with streamlined visa procedures and no more re-entry permits. Japanese companies are even making noises about employing more foreigners. With more local hires and fewer expat packages, strivers and thrivers, married to locals or not and occupying a wider sphere of jobs, are going native like never before. Many are learning how to live more economical and tidy existences—like their Japanese neighbors.

If Japan can pave the way for these new 21st-century strivers to thrive, they could provide a source of innovation—and children—for its demographically challenged future.

So where are the seekers and slackers? A few still reach Japan, but more are to be found where the action is—in China or other booming BRIC-type destinations.

一方のseekers and slackersは中国とか経済躍進が目覚ましい国にいるんじゃないのと軽く突き放した書き方をしていますね(笑)