Authentic 202597 Nike Roshe Run Unisex White Shoes 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 D Lillard 1 Mens White/Grey/Scarlet Basketball Shoes V91799,Buy 215193 Nike Air Max Women Black Red Purple Shoes,Adidas Element Refine Mens White/Clear Grey/Black Running Shoes V90218,. 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 Originals Adilette Mens Brazil/Green/Yellow/Blue Slippers V41115,Comfortable 192886 Nike Air Max 90 Women Grey Black Shoes,Nike Air Max Sequent Mens Dark Grey/Black/Pure Platinum/Metallic Platinum Running Shoes V49702,.

"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 Air Max Tavas Mens Rio/Dark Crimson/Midnight Navy/Bright Crimson Running Shoes V72840,Cheap 172665 Nike Air Max Command Women Black Purple White Shoes,Nike Free 5.0 2015 Mens Pure Platinum/Wolf Grey/Cool Grey/Black Running Shoes V70495,, 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 Anyanda Flex Womens Black/White/Silver Metallic Flip Flops V36185,Discount 197408 Nike Air Max 90 Women Grey Pink Shoes,Adidas Supernova Sequence Boost 7 Womens Clear Sky/White/Lucky Blue Running Shoes V45356,. Like other industries in a rapidly aging Japan, the construction business is desperate for labor. Nike Air Max Sequent Womens Black/Wolf Grey/White/Metallic Hematite Running Shoes V38392,Cheap 234707 Nike Classic Cortez Nylon Prm Women Silver Brown Black Shoes,Nike Air Zoom Winflo 2 Womens Vivid Purple/Fuchsia Glow/White/Hyper Orange Running Shoes V85278,. As baby boomers retire, the labor shortage -- in construction and in the wider economy -- is bound to become more acute.

Women's College Jacket 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 Black/Anthracite/Metallic Hematite/White Running Shoes V13584,Discount 153578 Nike Free Run Women Grey Yellow Shoes,Men's Nike Hypervenom Phelon II IC Wolf Grey/Total Orange/Black/Black UK#N5-9313,, 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 Hyperdunk 2014 Bright Mango/Black UK#N5-8762,Inexpensive 232790 Nike Free Run 2 Women Blue Orange Shoes,Nike SB Kids Paul Rodriguez CTD LR Black/Teal/Black/White UK#N5-9601,, Japan is in the midst of a quiet revolution when it comes to immigrant workers. Hype Quilted Backpack CP66,Shopping 150685 Nike Lunarglide 3 Women Blue Red Shoes,Hunter Infant Original Chelsea Boot CP523,.

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, Nike Junior Air Force 1 Trainer CP651,Adidas Bounce Titan 2013 Men Coupon_039,Glorious Gangsta Barristan Biker Jean CP847,.

Nike Dri-FIT Element Half-Zip

Immigration remains a politically charged issue in Japan, Carhartt College Script Hooded Top CP977,Adidas Clima Cool 5th Men Coupon_096,The North Face Mittellegi Hooded Top CP1156,. "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. "Condemned Nation Gaston Coated Mac Jacket CP1297,Adidas Porsche Design S3 Men Coupon_202,Luke 1977 Me Duck Down Parka CP1436,."

Men's FC Bayern Home Replica Player Shorts 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.Condemned Nation Triple Knitted Cardigan CP1787,Adidas Springblade 2015 Men Coupon_281,Jack & Jones Milan Sweat Short CP2150,. 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 Superstar Track Top CP3511,Asics Gel-Quik 33 Men Coupon_351,Flossy Torrox Perforated Leather Plimsole CP3797,, like all other countries, does have racist problems, but hate crime and hate speech are relatively adidas Originals Energy Boost 2 ESM Trainer CP3958,Christian Louboutin Fifi Women Coupon_439,adidas Originals Los Angeles Trainer CP4109,," 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.

Jordan Dri-FIT

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

Asics Gel-Lyte V 'Mesh City' Trainer CP4243,Christian Louboutin Sale Women Coupon_519,Creative Recreation Kaplan Trainer CP4372,, and 60% are 65 or older. Most of their children have left for the city in search of better-paying office work.

New Balance M574 Trainer CP4564,Christian Louboutin Sale Women Coupon_636,Nike Air Force 1 Elite Trainer CP4738,, 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.

Women's Techfit Climachill Tights 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, Puma R698 Core Leather Trainer CP4901,Jimmy Choo Bridal Women Coupon_716,Supra Hammer Run Trainer CP5025,, where the temperature can reach 40 C in summer.

adidas Originals Womens Adilette Slide Sandal CP5205,Jimmy Choo Pumps Women Coupon_813,Womens Shoes adidas Cloudfoam VS City White/Shock Pink/Blue,. He speaks basic Japanese, which he picked up watching anime series such as "One Piece" and "Detective Conan."

Womens Boots Aerosoles Make A Wish Black Combo,Jimmy Choo Sandals Women Coupon_911,Womens Sandals Aerosoles Boyzenberry Navy Stripe,," 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.

Womens Shoes Aerosoles A2 by Aerosoles Rock Solid Pink Stripe,New Balance Men Coupon_1011,Womens Shoes ALDO Rolli Silver,.

Wholesale Trade Converse All Star Chuck Taylor Girl Purple Canvas Shoes H1zu3ir6 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 Shoes Anne Klein Cragen Notte Suede,New Balance Men Coupon_1080,Womens Shoes Anne Klein Petrica White Leather,.

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 Badgley Mischka Roanna II Platino Metallic Suede,New Balance 574 Men Coupon_1188,Womens Boots Calvin Klein Giada Black Calf/Cow Kansas,.

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 Sandals Calvin Klein Adina Soft Platinum/Black,Jimmy Choo Wedges Women Coupon_920,Womens Shoes Calvin Klein Leila Dusty Pink Patent,.

Authentic 7dnzc s66rya August Deals Nike Air Max 1 Womens Internet company Rakuten, based in Tokyo, has been actively recruiting foreign talent. (Photo by Yasunori Okamura)

Womens Boots CARLOS by Carlos Santana Leighton Almond,New Balance 999 Men Coupon_1342,Womens Boots Clarks Swansea Grove Khaki Suede,. 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 Sandals Clarks Paylor Pace Black Synthetic,New Balance 420 Women Coupon_1419,Womens Shoes Clarks Un Estie Black Interest 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 Boots COACH Gillian Chestnut Vegan Leather,Nike Derrick Rose Men Coupon_1601,Womens Sandals COACH Shelly Chalk Semi Matte Calf,.

Authentic swup4 2gez7t August Deals Superstar Womens Gold 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 Boots Cole Haan Dalton Bootie Chestnut,Nike Kevin Durant Men Coupon_1720,Womens Sandals Cole Haan Goddard Sandal Sequoia,.

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 Shoes Cole Haan Cee Sandal Optic White/Snake Print,Nike Kevin Durant Men Coupon_1748,Unisex Shoes Converse Chuck Taylor All Star Hi Black/Red/White,, 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 ECCO Sky Slip-on Black Leather,Men's Baseball Cleat Nike Trout 2 Pro 807133-010,Womens Shoes ECCO Golf BIOM Hybrid 2 White/Danube,.

Family ties

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

Buy b9uhe 6u6dgp August Deals Nike Air Max 90 Mens 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 GUESS Anasia Black Synthetic,Men's Basketball Shoe Nike Zoom KD 9 843392-611,Womens Boots Naturalizer Blake Wine Suede,, Care Port Itabashi.  

Womens Shoes Naturalizer Saban Cardinal Leather,Men's Football Cleat Nike Vapor Untouchable Pro 833385-010,Womens Shoes New Balance Fresh Foam Boracay Blue/Green,, 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. 

Buy zdzms q7vsiq August Deals Nike Air Max 90 Mens

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 New Balance Classics 501 - Composite Grey/Blue,Men's Nike Basketball Shoe Kobe X 705317-604,Womens Shoes Nike Internationalist Black/Mulberry/Midnight Navy/String,.  

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 Shoes Nike Golf Lunaradapt Pure Platinum/Hyper Pink/Cool Grey,Men's Nike Shoe Hyperfr3sh 759996-200,Womens Sandals PATRIZIA Norah Black,. 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 PUMA Haraka XCS v2 Astral Aura/Puma Silver,Men's Running Shoe Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 32 749340-402,Womens Boots Rocket Dog Calypso Nutmeg Stag,."

Womens Boots Sam Edelman Mackay Black,

Subscribe to get unlimited access to all articles.

Womens Sandals Sam Edelman Genesee Saddle Vaquero Saddle Leather,Men's Weightlifting Shoe Nike Romaleos 3 852933-700,Womens Shoes Saucony Guide 8 Grey/Sunset/Citron,
NAR site on phone, device, tablet

Womens Boots Timberland Whittemore Chelsea Dark Brown Woodlands,

Subscribe to get unlimited access to all articles.

3 months for $9

Womens Boots UGG Soleil Lodge Suede/Leather,NIKE AIR ZOOM PEGASUS 31 Classic Charcoal/Green Glow/Menta,Womens Boots UGG Carter Chocolate,
NAR site on phone, device, tablet

Your trial period has expired

You need a subscription to...

Womens Boots Vaneli Rhun T.Moro Laredo Calf/Ant Bronze Buckle,Nike Flyknit Racer Unisex Running Shoe (Men's Sizing) 526628-800,Womens Sandals Vaneli Mandy White Ecco Nappa,

Your full access to the Nikkei Asian Review has expired

You need a subscription to:

Womens Shoes Vaneli Matilda Fuchsia Nappa/Orange Nappa,NIKE MAGISTA OBRA FG Black/Blue Lagoon/Volt/White,Unisex Shoes Vans Brigata (C&L) Coriander/True White,
Hurley Phantom Solid 9" Beachrider,Women's Running Shoe Nike Air Max 2016 Print 818101-500,Nike Air Pivot,
  • Jimmy Choo Sandals Women Coupon_853
  • Nike Mercurial Vapor IX CR7 SE FG Limited Edition Cleats Purple Green Black 3129945
  • KEF Ci100QS UNI-Q speaker SQUARE In Wall or Ceiling
  • Nike Zoom Kobe 6 Unisex Basketball Shoes Rice Green /Nike Jordan [ N1163]
  • adidas Performance Men's Ace 16.2 Primemesh Fg/Ag - Green - Football boots
  • Men's/Women's Adidas Originals ZX 5000 RSPN Shoes Bold Blue/Fluorescent/Runwhite M18218
  • Ugg Tomi Trainers Pewter - Women's Shoes
  • Nike Toki Slip-on Canvas Shoes Womens Black White N32037
  • Mens Nike Zoom Kobe Vii 7 Black Green Shoe Buy Online
  • Womens adidas trainers size 4
  • Mens/Womens Nike Air MAX 2018 X DUNK SB LOW Coming Out DELUXE green quartz Running Shoes
  • 7 Star Sale Womens Nike Air Max 90 Running Shoes White
  • 2016 Sale Nike Air Max 1 Mens Trainers Blue Navy White
  • Y-3 Yohji Yamamoto Adidas Qasa High Sneakers black grey Teal boost BB4735
  • Nike Roshe One Men Alligator/Black/Militia Green/Dark Loden Running Shoes
  • Men's - Nike Air Force 1 '07 Picnic Pack White / Tech-Grey Shoes
  • Air Jordan Melo 1.5 Low (White Silver Dk Cinder Uni Blue) Sneakers
  • Men's Nike Air Zoom Direct Black/Metallic Silver
  • Nike Pro Combat Core Compression Half-Sleeve 535720-010 Black/Cool Grey
  • Nike Shoes Sale Air Penny Ii white/varsity royal/black NI 4096