Some time ago, YouTube decided to recommend me a video of a German girl who used to live in Japan, the title of which caught my eye and it read “Why I’m leaving Japan…”
I got curious and watched the video and one of the reasons she raised was that it was difficult for her to have non-Japanese friends here. It isn’t that it is difficult to make friends with non-Japanese people, but because many typically do not plan to reside in Japan forever, and so, eventually, you would have to say goodbye to them.
For me, apart from the friends I met at the language school in Aichi prefecture (many of whom left after their studies), most of my non-Japanese friends are still in Japan and I don’t think any of them has plans to leave within the next 10 years or so. But the truth is, this past few months has seen a lot of them departing: A Malaysian friend is leaving at the end of this week for Spain with her husband; a Taiwanese friend is returning to Taiwan to marry her boyfriend; a Singaporean friend is returning to Singapore when her secondment to the company here ends; another Taiwanese friend says he plans to stay another 2-3 years and will leave for somewhere else; a Chinese friend will be leaving for Singapore at the end of this year with his wife; and many more have left for work-related as well as personal reasons.
It does feel like losing a part of us when friends leave the country for good and while it didn’t feel that bad initially with a few people leaving, it got worse when more and more leave and you realise even more could possibly choose to do the same some time in the near future. It is one thing when they choose to leave because it was already in their plans, but when they leave because of reasons beyond their control, it becomes a little depressing because you know they want to remain but are unable to. Subconsciously, you begin to get extraordinarily happy when they marry Japanese people so you know the chance of them leaving gets less although not a guarantee. But as many of them are highly capable people, it is only understandable that they are also mobile and able to thrive in many places around the world.
I’ve met a guy who moved to Japan, married a Japanese, moved to the States and ended up working at the same company as his primary school friend. So, you never know when your paths may cross again. Till then, I hope we would’ve all become better versions of ourselves.