Adidas Originals JS Men Coupon_150 Farruq Fahlevi, left, and Muhamad Irvan Gustian, both from Indonesia, work on a farm harvesting cabbages in Ibaraki Prefecture. (Photo by Ken Kobayashi)
Cover Story

Famous for its resistance to immigration, Japan opens its doors

Number of foreign workers doubles in five years as nation faces labor crisis

Adidas Cosmic Boost Mens Midnight Indigo/Black/Solar Red Running Shoes V64453,Asics Running Shoes Men Coupon_382,Adidas Adissage Comfort Fitfoam Mens Black/White Slippers V31243,. Along with a group of Japanese colleagues, they will spend the day moving heavy wooden pilings and pouring concrete for the foundation of a seven-story condominium block. 

It is demanding work, Adidas Powerlift Trainer 2 Mens White/Black/Bright Royal Training Shoes V87226,Christian Louboutin Sale Women Coupon_463,Nike Air Max 90 Mens Squadron Blue/Black/Bright Citrus/Flight Silver Running Shoes V78960,.

"I've chosen the construction industry because the work involves lots of communication and helps improve my Japanese," Hoang said, in fluent Japanese. He eventually wants to work as a translator in Japan, and hopes that his fiancee will be able to join him there one day.

His employer, Nike Free 3.0 Flyknit 2015 Mens Black/Hot Lava/Squadron Running Shoes V20320,Christian Louboutin Sale Women Coupon_526,Nike Roshe One Mens Daring Red/Black/Gym Red/Team Red Running Shoes V49019,, said trainees like Hoang are indispensable for his company of 32. "Foreign trainees learn faster than Japanese," Maeda said. "They are more serious, more hardworking, and take fewer days off. They are keen to learn and work hard for money. Adidas Energy Boost 2 Womens Solar Blue/Tech Grey Metallic/Solar Metallic Running Shoes V76374,Christian Louboutin Sale Women Coupon_572,Adidas Anyanda Flex Womens Flash Pink/White/Silver Metallic Slippers V53935,. Like other industries in a rapidly aging Japan, the construction business is desperate for labor. Nike Air Max 1 Ultra Womens Black/Metallic Silver/White/Black Running Shoes V22584,Christian Louboutin Sale Women Coupon_622,Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 32 Womens Vivid Purple/Hyper Orange/Black Running Shoes V85306,. As baby boomers retire, the labor shortage -- in construction and in the wider economy -- is bound to become more acute.

Womens Sandals Vaneli Barrett White Nappa/Silver Hardware Vietnamese trainee Dang Ngoc Hoang works at a building site in Tokyo. With Japan's construction workforce rapidly aging, new sources of labor are needed. (Photo by Ken Kobayashi)

The demand for construction workers is intensifying before the 2020 Olympics, Nike Internationalist Womens White/Black/Light Bone Running Shoes V88203,Asics Gel-Quik 33 Men Coupon_345,Men's Nike Speedlax 4 Anthracite/Volt UK#N5-9633,, the program has boomed in recent years -- and is one reason that the number of foreign workers in Japan has nearly quadrupled over the last decade.

Men's Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 32 Flash Squadron Blue/Blue Lagoon/Green Glow/Reflect Silver UK#N5-9495,Jimmy Choo Pumps Women Coupon_796,Nike Kids Jr Tiempo Genio Leather IC Soccer Black/Black UK#N5-9624,, Japan is in the midst of a quiet revolution when it comes to immigrant workers. Women's Nike Lunaracer+ 3 Flash Lime/White/Black/Clearwater UK#N5-9534,Jimmy Choo Pumps Women Coupon_840,Mr Lacy Junior Flat Lace CP364,.

Without fanfare, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has steadily loosened Japan's once tightly controlled visa policy, resulting in an almost doubling of the number of foreign workers in Japan to 1.28 million over the last five years. In its latest move, Abe's government is expected to create a new class of  five-year work permits for unskilled workers in hopes of attracting more than 500,000 new overseas workers by 2025. The new guidelines, to be finalized in June, will ease language requirements for foreign workers in construction, adidas Originals Junior Stan Smith Trainer CP560,Jimmy Choo Sandals Women Coupon_892,Timberland Junior 6 Inch Boot CP696,.

Womens Shoes Vaneli Winda Pudding E-Nappa/Black Ferns Patent

Immigration remains a politically charged issue in Japan, Duck & Cover Rouren Tapered Denim Jean CP835,Platforms Jimmy Choo Women Coupon_988,Converse Core Overhead Hooded Top CP996,. "My government has no intention of adopting a so-called immigration policy," Abe said in February.

Yet the total number of foreign residents in Japan has grown 20% in the last three years, reaching 2.6 million in 2017, or 2% of the total population. In Tokyo, one in eight residents who came of age this year were foreigners.

"Anyone wandering around Japan, from Hokkaido to Tokyo to Okinawa, knows that there is growing diversity in schools and the workplace," said Jeff Kingston, a professor at Temple University Japan. "Nike Tech Fleece Hooded Top CP1112,New Balance Men Coupon_1042,Antony Morato Quilted Driver Jacket CP1220,."

Womens Shoes Vaneli Johanna Grey Suede Foreign workers have become a part of everyday life in Japan, yet public debate on immigration remains limited. (Photo by Ken Kobayashi)

While foreign workers are now part of everyday life in Japan -- making ready-to-eat foods in convenience stores, growing fruits and vegetables on farms and sorting packages for delivery companies -- public debate has been limited.Glorious Gangsta Zeus Longline Bomber Jacket CP1386,New Balance 574 Men Coupon_1135,Two Angle Geopard Puffer Jacket CP1543,. As a result, Abe's position -- despite its apparent contradictions -- has faced no strong pushback from the public or politicians yet.

Many Japanese look at the deep divisions in the West over immigration and conclude that a more open policy should be avoided. Yet the steady relaxation of migration rules has not led to the social fissures seen elsewhere.

"adidas Originals Firebird Short CP2061,New Balance 574 Men Coupon_1169,Original Penguin Mojo Chino Short CP2191,, like all other countries, does have racist problems, but hate crime and hate speech are relatively adidas Originals Mezcla Track Top CP3532,New Balance 574 Men Coupon_1253,Toms University Slip On Espadrille CP3802,," Kingston said.

With Japan facing its tightest labor market in decades, the business community would like Abe to go further. The unemployment rate stands at 2.5%, the lowest level in 25 years. There are now 1.59 jobs for every job seeker, the highest ratio since 1974.

Women's Running Techfit Long Tights

Given Japan's demographics -- it is the world's oldest advanced economy -- the labor shortage is only going to intensify. The nation's working-age population, defined as those aged between 15 and 64, is expected to decrease more than 40% to 45 million over the next 50 years. By contrast, those aged 75 or older, dubbed the "super-elderly," are projected to make up more than a quarter of the population.

Cabbages and car parts

adidas Originals ZX Flux Trainer CP3960,Jimmy Choo Wedges Women Coupon_930,adidas Originals Hamburg Freizeit Trainer CP4101,, and 60% are 65 or older. Most of their children have left for the city in search of better-paying office work.

Asics Gel-Lyte III Trainer CP4229,New Balance 574 Women Coupon_1456,Creative Recreation Kaplan Perforated Woodgrain Trainer CP4368,, the government's trainee program has allowed them to hold on to their livelihoods.

Among them is Kota Hirohara, 56, who raises cabbages on his small farm. On a recent May day, two Indonesian trainees were harvesting Hirohara's cabbages by hand with large nakiri, or vegetable knives. Hirohara says his farm is not big enough to need an expensive cabbage harvesting machine.

Nike Pro Hyperstrong 3/4 Indonesian trainees harvest cabbages at a farm in Ibaraki Prefecture. (Photo by Ken Kobayashi)

The two men, Muhamad Irvan Gustian and Farruq Fahlevi, both 21, can pick as many as 4,000 cabbages during their eight-hour workday. They also weed the fields, Lacoste Marcel LCR Trainer CP4526,New Balance 574 Women Coupon_1481,Nike Roshe Run Flyknit Trainer CP4635,, where the temperature can reach 40 C in summer.

Nike Jordan Flight Trainer CP4796,Nike Derrick Rose Men Coupon_1566,Ralph Lauren Polo Harvey-NE Trainer CP4937,. He speaks basic Japanese, which he picked up watching anime series such as "One Piece" and "Detective Conan."

Vans Atwood Canvas Trainer CP5116,Nike Derrick Rose Men Coupon_1630,Unisex Boots adidas by Rick Owens Runner Ankle Boot RO Mustard/RO Mustard/RO Nil,," he said. "I want to do more work." He says he wants to run a big farm in Indonesia one day, perhaps growing rice or coffee.

Unisex Shoes adidas by Juun. J Perf Leather ZX8000 Low JJ Black/Gold Metallic/Black,Nike Derrick Rose Men Coupon_1632,Womens Boots Aerosoles Thermal Grey Fabric,.

Ferrari Team Softshell Jacket A Vietnamese worker checks autoparts at a Shigeru plant in Gunma Prefecture. (Photo by Ken Kobyashi)

The workers at Shigeru make instrument panels used in the Outback, Impreza and other models. The company hires Japanese part-timers in response to changes in demand, but Masayoshi Tabata, general manager, says foreign trainees are more dependable. "Part-timers quit when they find better-paying jobs. Trainees stay for three years."

Womens Sandals Aerosoles Base Board Bone,Nike Kevin Durant War Boots Men Coupon_1783,Womens Boots ALDO Lillianne Navy Suede,.

Trainees are discouraged from going back to their country before finishing the three-year term or from having a child, and they cannot bring their spouse on the visa.

Womens Shoes ALDO Ramiya Oxblood,Men's Artificial-Grass Soccer Cleat Nike Tiempo Legend VI AG-R 819712-010,Womens Shoes Anne Klein Kazia Black FB,.

International pressure and media reports led to a law change in November 2017, allowing only certified organizations to participate in the trainee program. Criminal penalties were introduced for mistreatment of workers while a new government agency has been given a legal mandate to conduct random inspections. A whistleblower system has also been created that allows cases of abuse to be reported via email, a telephone hotline or a dedicated website. Most trainees have smartphones with them and have Wi-Fi access in their dormitories.

Fast-track system for tech workers

Womens Shoes Anne Klein AKFinale Taupe/Taupe Fabric,Men's Basketball Shoe Nike Hyperdunk 2016 844359-660,Womens Shoes Badgley Mischka Roudy Navy Satin,.

Women's Rita Ora Geisha Kimono Tee Internet company Rakuten, based in Tokyo, has been actively recruiting foreign talent. (Photo by Yasunori Okamura)

Womens Shoes C Label Napoli-8 Gold/Black,Converse Thunderbolt Modern Unisex Shoe 155040C-423,Womens Sandals Calvin Klein Pax Sand Gold/Black Leather,. technology companies like Google and Uber in the emerging fields of autonomous driving, artificial intelligence, ride-sharing and the internet of things. In these new fields, the flow of ideas -- and people -- is vital.

"It is impossible for Japanese to create a very competitive technology-based company unless we globalize internally,Womens Shoes Calvin Klein Lucette Klein Blue Toscano,Men's Indoor/Court Soccer Shoe Nike Tiempo Rio III IC 819234-707,Womens Shoes Calvin Klein Tullie White/Neon Yellow Leather/Patent/Suede,, CEO of Japanese e-commerce company Rakuten, at an in-house seminar last year.

At Rakuten's Japanese headquarters in a Tokyo suburb, a quarter of its roughly 6,000 employees are foreigners. The company hires about 400 engineers every year, of which 70% are non-Japanese, mainly Indians and Chinese.

Rakuten's push for global talent began in 2009, Womens Sandals CARLOS by Carlos Santana Kelly Blue,Men's Nike Basketball Shoe LeBron XIII 807219-500,Womens Sandals Clarks Un Verlee Black Patent Leather,.

Nike 3 Foreign students attend a job fair in Tokyo. Japanese companies, including e-commerce player Rakuten, are increasingly looking for international talent. (Photo by Ken Kobayashi)

Mikitani's revelation came during a lunch session with Indian engineers. Womens Sandals Clarks Un Neema Grey,Men's Nike Shoe Air Huarache Utility 806807-600,Womens Shoes Clarks Claribel Fame Taupe Nubuck,.

Amit Agrawal, a 35-year-old engineer from India, is one of those who were hired by Rakuten.

"Most Japanese companies don't accept non-Japanese speakers. Rakuten is one of the companies that accept non-Japanese-speaking people," said Agrawal, who works in a massive open room that is almost entirely filled by foreign workers. Womens Boots COACH Sage Black/Cherry Rubber,Men's Golf Shoe Nike Lunar Control Vapor 849971-001,Womens Sandals COACH Caterine Platinum Metallic Tumbled,, via a loyalty point system.

"Rakuten is basically an e-commerce company, but we are moving into other businesses also. I wanted to work in the latest technologies," Womens Shoes COACH Corey Black Calf Suede,Men's Running Shoe Nike Air Zoom Structure 19 806580-607,Womens Sandals Cole Haan Cameron Sandal Sequoia,.

Family ties

But IT workers are an exception. Most others, even skilled workers, face significant hurdles to settling in Japan.

Men's Road to France Graphic Tee Marliezl Abud, left, and a fellow Philippine worker talk to an elderly woman at a care center in Tokyo. (Photo by Ken Kobayashi)

One of the biggest difficulties has to do with restrictions on allowing family members to accompany workers -- a move designed to prevent permanent immigration. Though they are starting to loosen for a small number of the most skilled workers, such restrictions may limit Japan's allure as a destination for people with sought-after training. 

Among those whose skills are in great demand is Marliezl Abud, Womens Shoes Cole Haan Sarina Ballet Sorbet Snake,Men's Running Shoe Nike LunarTempo 2 818097-008,Womens Shoes Cole Haan Neara Pump Zinfandel Perf,, Care Port Itabashi.  

Womens Boots ECCO Touch 55 Bootie Black,Men's Shoe Jordan Horizon Premium 822333-035,Womens Shoes ECCO Altona Pump Black 1,, it entered economic partnership agreements with the Philippines, Indonesia and Vietnam that would allow up to 900 caregivers a year to come work in the country for up to four or five years each. 

Nike Frequency Just Do It

Abud was able to come to Japan through this program, but the hurdles were high. Only those with a four-year-college degree and a Philippine qualification as a caregiver were accepted. Womens Shoes GUESS Cherie Brown Multi Fabric,Men's Running Shoe Nike Air Zoom Elite 8 748588-003,Womens Boots Hunter Original Short Thundercloud,.  

She sends most of her salary to her parents and sisters back in the Philippines. Her younger sister has a daughter who is going on to private school, and Abud's earnings contribute to her niece's education.

Abud felt a crushing homesickness at first. But after she had passed the local exam, Womens Sandals Naturalizer Tenor Classic Navy Leather/Printed Snake,Men's Shoe Nike Air Max BW Ultra Graphic 819520-006,Womens Shoes Naturalizer Taylor Brown,. She likes the shopping, too.

But she and her husband see possible obstacles ahead for their lives in Japan. Her visa allows her husband to work only up to 28 hours a week, which could pose problems if they start a family.

"I want to have a child next year," Womens Shoes New Balance W1260v4 Grey/Yellow,Men's Shoe Nike Air Zoom Elite 8 748588-103,Womens Shoes Nike Air Pegasus '83 Team Red/Hyper Punch/Sail/Medium Orewood Brown,."

Womens Shoes Nike Dart 11 Game Royal/Deep Royal Blue/White/Pink Pow,

Subscribe to get unlimited access to all articles.

Womens Shoes Nike Golf Lunar Control White/Bright Citrus/Pink Pow,NIKE LUNAR CONTROL White/Blue Lagoon/Cool Grey,Womens Sandals PATRIZIA Nanor Beige,
NAR site on phone, device, tablet

Womens Shoes PUMA Pulse FLEX XT Matte Lipstick Red/Cayenne,

Subscribe to get unlimited access to all articles.

3 months for $9

Womens Boots Rocket Dog Hallie Sand Americana,NikeLab Gyakusou Zoom Streak 6 Unisex Racing Shoe 875850-600,Womens Shoes Rocket Dog Raylan Black Odyssey,
NAR site on phone, device, tablet

Your trial period has expired

You need a subscription to...

Womens Sandals Sam Edelman Eleanor Black Crepe,Women's Shoe Nike Air Force 1 Low Upstep BR 833123-001,Womens Shoes Saucony Fastwitch Berry/Blue/Orange,

Your full access to the Nikkei Asian Review has expired

You need a subscription to:

Womens Shoes Superga 2750 Carvaggio Cognac,Women's Shoe Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 33 Shield 849567-002,Womens Boots UGG Blaise Black,
Womens Boots UGG Cassidee Tall Chocolate Leather/Knit,Women's Shoe Nike Juvenate Woven Premium 833825-001,Womens Shoes UGG Dempsey Cream Nubuck,
  • Men's Basketball Shoe Kobe XI 836183-805
  • New Balance Classics 530 Men SJ80133
  • Adidas ZX Flux Prism Ocean
  • 705178-045 Mens Nike Air Jordan 10 Retro 30th Dust Metallic
  • Adidas Crazy 8 - Men'S - Basketball - Shoes - Aluminum/White/Gum
  • Men's/Women's Nike Air Max Thea Print Natural Running Shoes Black/White
  • Nike Air Max 90 Womens Cowboy Gray K77z8532
  • 2015 Newest Nike Air Max 90 87 HYP PRM Womens Shoes Online Pink White
  • Low-cost direct - Converse Ct Chuck Taylor All Star Clear Womens 148633C New P94l1427
  • WZW Women's Handmade Pearl Diamond Acrylic Ball Evening Bag B073VN3YD8
  • 2017 Nike Watch Women's Nikecourt Zoom Vapor 9 Tour X Colette White/Blue Crystal Shoes Canada GHO9104517
  • Legit Original Air Jordan 4 Superman
  • 2017 Nike Cool Sneakers Men's Kobe X Elite Court Purple/Vivid Purple/Cave Purple/White Shoes Canada WXI670687
  • Cheap Air Max x Nike Air Max 90 Mens Army Green Suede
  • Nike Mens Shoes / Magnet Grey Black Hyper Crimson Volt Shoes Nike Zoom Structure 18 EG553861e15
  • Men's - Converse Jack Purcell Slip Purple / White Shoes
  • Adidasi Tenis Nike Court Zoom Vapor 9.5 Flyknit Barbati Verzi/Negrii (195635YOM)
  • Men's NIKE LEBRON WITNESS University Red/White/Bright Crimson/Black
  • Nike Classic Cortez Leather Midnight Navy Metallic Silver White
  • Asics Mens Shoes / Black Onyx Chili Shoes Asics Gel-Kinsei 5 HR36691613