Americans began disappearing from Japan, even before the March disasters.

So says the Japanese Ministry of Justice, which is charged with keeping tabs on the Gaikokujin in Japan:

(Click to enlarge)

It had been 52,149 in 2009, and dropped to 50,667 last year. Down around 2.8%.

A link to the source: Ministry of Justice site

My immediate thoughts on this:

1) It seems like the Japanese would want to blame the jobs recession–or language skills–on the decline. But it begs the question of what kind of economy supported the issuance of the work visas to begin with? The Ministry of Justice knows exactly the breakout of the 50,000–but they don’t share that information. You know, it can very well be the Pacific Elite, the “lordship” class of these American multinationals, plus their families/children that we subsidize in Tokyo. The rest of us funnel through a revolving door, like Star Trek red shirts.

It would be nice to know that breakout.

2) Chinese keep going up and up, man! Go China!

3) How come the Japanese aren’t as candid about the number of Australians, Canadians, and those from other English-speaking countries with small populations compared to America? America is 50,000 out of a population of 308,000,000. These other countries have 10,000 there, off populations a fraction of our size–but we never get the specifics.

4) Why do our doors have to remain open to Japanese to take our jobs, when Japan’s doors are comparatively closed?

5) I think the trendlines, going out 20 years, speak ill of a continuing U.S.-Japan bilateral alliance. I think it’s going to become a U.S.-China dialogue, with Japan kind-of in there as the guest you have to invite.

6) It’s a shame that the throwbacks who are implementing Japan’s immigration policies won’t be alive in the future, when the sh*t hits the fan . . .

Don’t get me wrong: I have a lot of positive vibes about the Japanese. The problem is with elements of the Japanese government, which, you know, means elements of business/social community.

That loss of about 2,000 Americans from the peak in 2008 (yes, it’s been going down since then) represents real people–not just a number. It represents dashed hopes and dreams. It represents dislocations. It represents time and effort wasted in acculturating to Japan (if you don’t happen to be interested in Japanese culture for its own sake.) In some cases, it represents families split.

You can imagine, that in some circles of Japan, there are sub-ministers and functionaries blackslapping each other and congratulating themselves for this “accomplishment”. “Yay! There are thousands more from countries that don’t necessarily have key relationships with us! But we have finally reduced the number of Americans here!” “We can’t get rid of their military, but at least we got rid of some of the civilians!” Thinking like that.

It’s like I say, it is a shame that the people who make these decisions won’t be around when the actual impact is felt as a result of those decisions. It never happens that way in Japan . . .