Authentic 239832 Air Jordan 4 Retro Men Black/Black Grey 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

Discount 189510 Nike Zoom Kobe VI Men Gray Shoes,Inexpensive 188104 Nike Dunk High Men Multicolor ShoesBuy 189712 Nike Zoom Kobe VIi Men Black Grey Shoes,. 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, Authentic 150841 Onitsuka Tiger By Asics Mexico 66 Men Silver White Shoes,Inexpensive 190776 Nike Dunk High Men White ShoesDiscount 217446 Onitsuka Tiger By Asics Mexico 66 Men White Blue Shoes,.

"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, Discount 240536 Adidas Originals Lifestyle Unisex Red White Shoes,Inexpensive 181474 Nike Dunk High Men White Red ShoesInexpensive 154590 Puma Future Cat Super Lt Men Black Red White Shoes,, 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. Authentic 212147 New Balance Mw659 Unisex Black Grey Shoes,Comfortable 187397 Nike Dunk High Men ShoesAuthentic 157293 Jordan Retro Unisex Fire Red White Fire Red Black Shoes,. Like other industries in a rapidly aging Japan, the construction business is desperate for labor. Inexpensive 166543 Air Jordan 1 Retro Women Black Dark Pink Purple Shoes,Shopping 213893 Nike Dunk High Men ShoesComfortable 244826 Adidas Originals ZX 700 Women White Orange Beauty Clear Grey Shoes,. As baby boomers retire, the labor shortage -- in construction and in the wider economy -- is bound to become more acute.

Women's Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 32 Menta/Liquid Lime/Ghost Green/Black UK#N5-9243 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, Cheap 188452 New Balance Classics Wl515 Women Green Pink Shoes,Authentic 220767 Nike Dunk High Men Stars ShoesShopping 190391 New Balance W3190V1 Women Silver Blue Shoes,, 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.

Buy 185819 Nike Air Force 1 Women White Cyan Shoes,Comfortable 221718 Nike Dunk High Men ShoesShopping 202891 Nike Air Max Women White Black Green Shoes,, Japan is in the midst of a quiet revolution when it comes to immigrant workers. Discount 228904 Nike Air Force 1 Women White Cherry Shoes,Comfortable 161852 Nike Dunk High Men Violet ShoesCheap 167739 Nike Blazer High Women Red Gray White Shoes,.

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, Comfortable 222094 Nike Dunk High Women Shoes,Cheap 151275 Nike Dunk High Men ShoesBuy 233833 Nike Classic Cortez Nylon Women Navy Blue Yellow Shoes,.

Calvin Klein Cotton Stretch 3 Pack Boxer Short CP401

Immigration remains a politically charged issue in Japan, Authentic 149217 Nike Free 3.0 V4 Women Light Green Gray White Shoes,Cheap 233671 Nike Dunk High Men ShoesInexpensive 228690 Nike Free Run 3 Women Green Blue Shoes,. "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. "Cheap 239218 Nike Lunarelite Women Gray Fluorescence Green Shoes,Buy 218532 Nike Dunk High Men Purple Old Red ShoesInexpensive 226020 Nike Roshe Run Women Grey Peach Blossom Shiny Red Shoes,."

Creative Recreation Junior Cesario Low XVI Trainer CP597 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.Adidas Bounce Titan III Men Coupon_065,Buy 158470 Nike Dunk High Men ShoesAdidas Porsche Design III Men Coupon_171,. 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 Bounce Titan 2013 Men Coupon_044,Shopping 201698 Nike Dunk High Men Black Yellow ShoesAdidas Springblade 2013 Women Coupon_338,, like all other countries, does have racist problems, but hate crime and hate speech are relatively Christian Louboutin Sale Women Coupon_456,Inexpensive 188275 Nike Dunk Low Men Chocolate Anthracite Black Gold ShoesChristian Louboutin Sale Women Coupon_534,," 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.

Creative Recreation Nursery Cesario Quilted Trainer CP756

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

Christian Louboutin Sale Women Coupon_624,Authentic 182658 Nike Dunk Low Men ShoesJimmy Choo Boots Women Coupon_691,, and 60% are 65 or older. Most of their children have left for the city in search of better-paying office work.

Jimmy Choo Pumps Women Coupon_809,Shopping 171827 Nike Dunk Low Men Obsidian Royal ShoesJimmy Choo Sandals Women Coupon_906,, 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.

Jack & Jones Stan Osaka AT003 Jean CP881 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, Platforms Jimmy Choo Women Coupon_978,Shopping 219779 Nike Dunk Low Men Black Purple White ShoesNew Balance 1400 Men Coupon_1086,, where the temperature can reach 40 C in summer.

New Balance 574 Men Coupon_1165,Discount 193745 Nike Dunk Low Men White Black Pink ShoesNew Balance 574 Men Coupon_1263,. He speaks basic Japanese, which he picked up watching anime series such as "One Piece" and "Detective Conan."

New Balance Women Coupon_1388,Buy 186862 Nike Dunk Low Men Ice Cream ShoesNew Balance 1400 Women Coupon_1403,," 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.

Nike Derrick Rose Men Coupon_1566,Comfortable 187856 Nike Dunk Mid Men Silver ShoesNike Kevin Durant Men Coupon_1716,.

Kings Will Dream Mariano Hooded Top CP1093 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."

Nike Kobe Bryant Men Coupon_1818,Buy 147187 Nike Dunks High Men White Pink Yellow ShoesLEBRON 12 LIFESTYLE Black/Challenge Red/Black,.

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.

Men's Basketball Shoe LeBron XIV BHM 860634-100,Inexpensive 235778 Nike Free 3.0 V3 Men Royal Blue White ShoesMen's Football Cleat Nike Vapor Untouchable 698833-413,.

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

men's NIKE AIR MAX 2015 698902-101,Discount 206297 Nike Free 3.0 V4 Men Green Silver ShoesMen's Nike Shoe Air Huarache Utility 806807-100,.

Bellfield Staten Shearling Puff Jacket CP1233 Internet company Rakuten, based in Tokyo, has been actively recruiting foreign talent. (Photo by Yasunori Okamura)

Men's Running Shoe Nike Air Max 2015 698902-009,Comfortable 181517 Nike Free 3.0 V2 Suede Men Blue White Gray ShoesMen's Running Shoe Nike Free RN Distance 827115-010,. 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,Men's Shoe Jordan Eclipse 724010-614,Shopping 194929 Nike Free 3.0 V5 Men Black White Purple ShoesMen's Shoe Nike Air Force 1 Comfort Lux Low 805300-001,, 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, Men's Shoe Nike Air Max Excellerate 4 Premium 810798-106,Authentic 221999 Nike Free 4.0 V2 Men Red White ShoesMen's Shoe Nike Aptare Premium 876388-001,.

Hawksworth Mac Jacket CP1404 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. Men's Shoe Nike Free Trainer V7 898053-002,Shopping 226366 Nike Free 7.0 V2 Men White Blue Black ShoesMen's Shoe Nike Roshe One Hyperfuse 636220-004,.

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. Men's Shoe NikeCourt Zoom Cage 2 705247-402,Inexpensive 191981 Nike Free Run 3 Men Green White ShoesMen's Training Shoe Nike Metcon 2 819899-400,, 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," NIKE AIR MAX 2015 White/Black/Total Orange,Shopping 218822 Nike Free Run Men Grey Blue ShoesNIKE DUAL FUSION BALLISTEC ADVANTAGE Volt/Dove Grey/Black/White,.

Family ties

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

The North Face Glacier Delta Fleece Jacket CP1523 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, NIKE LEBRON 12 ELITE Lebron James,Inexpensive 148334 Nike Free Trainer Men Gray Green White ShoesNIKE ZOOM FIT AGILITY Clearwater/Flash Lime/Blue Lagoon/Black,, Care Port Itabashi.  

Women's Shoe Nike Air Max 1 Essential 599820-400,Shopping 198708 Nike Hyperdunk Men Grey Black ShoesWomen's Shoe Nike Air Zoom Vomero 11 818100-405,, 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. 

Brave Soul Alfie Skinny Denim Short CP2094

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. Women's Shoe Nike LunarGlide 8 Shield 849569-300,Shopping 237606 Nike Kobe Dream Season II Low Men Black White Yellow ShoesAdidas Nitrocharge 1.0 Fg Boys Preschool Black/White/Flash Orange Soccer Shoes V34043,.  

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, Adidas D Rose 773 Iii Boys Grade School Collegiate Navy/White Basketball Shoes V45967,Shopping 242829 Nike Lebron 10 Men Pure Platinum Black Turquoise ShoesNike Huarache Run Boys Grade School Black/White Running Shoes V30953,. 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," Adidas Adizero Crazy Light 2 Mens Infrared/Black/White Basketball Shoes V60100,Authentic 163247 Nike Lebron 12 Men Turquoise/Black Metallic Grey Crimson ShoesAdidas D Rose Lakeshore Mens White/Black/White Basketball Shoes V88827,."

Adidas Pure Boost Mens Base Green/Black Running Shoes V11788,

Subscribe to get unlimited access to all articles.

Adidas Barricade 8+ Mens White/Black/Clear Onix Tennis Shoes V87545,Comfortable 212257 Nike Shox Nz Men White Pink ShoesNike Air Max 90 Mens Gym Red/White/Wolf Grey/Metallic Silver Running Shoes V57499,
NAR site on phone, device, tablet

Nike Cortez Mens White/Black/Metallic Silver Running Shoes V88265,

Subscribe to get unlimited access to all articles.

3 months for $9

Nike Zoom Vomero 9 Mens Base Grey/Light Crimson/Gym Red/White Running Shoes V11888,Buy 161758 Nike Shox Nz 2.0 Men Black Purple ShoesAdidas Energy Boost 2 Womens Solar Blue/Tech Grey Metallic/Solar Metallic Running Shoes V76194,
NAR site on phone, device, tablet

Your trial period has expired

You need a subscription to...

Adidas Barricade V Classic Womens Midnight Indigo/White/Silver Metallic Tennis Shoes V64601,Shopping 192241 Nike Shox Nz Men White Blue ShoesNike Air Max 90 Ultra Womens Black/Purple Dusk/Mulberry/Black Running Shoes V25046,

Your full access to the Nikkei Asian Review has expired

You need a subscription to:

Nike Flex Run 2015 Womens Chalk Blue/Hyper Orange/Varsity Maize/White Running Shoes V43721,Shopping 225568 Nike Shox R4 Men Black White ShoesNike Shox Superfly R4 Womens Metallic Silver/Hyper Punch/Cool Grey Running Shoes V63603,
Men's Nike Vapor Speed Low D Sport Royal/White UK#N5-8757,Inexpensive 159369 Nike Shox R4 Men White ShoesNike Kids Roshe Run Print Wolf Grey/University Gold/Electro Orange/Deep Royal Blue UK#N5-9460,
  • Comfortable 180844 Nike Dunk High Men White Blue Shoes
  • Big Discount Wholesale Price Nike Sportswear Internationalist Premium - Trainers - Midnight Navy/Met
  • Men Boots Black/Grey 479467
  • Unisex Nike SB Zoom Stefan Janoski Elite - Skateboarding Shoe XA786224u
  • Clothing - Training - Men's - adidas Team Issue Fleece Colorblock Hoodie - Black Black 6PN4839 Dark Grey
  • Authentic Air Jordan 12 Red Suede
  • Nike Roshe Run NM Suede Blue White Shoes
  • Nike Air Force Exclusive 1 Low GS Flax Wheat certificate 888853-200
  • Nike Air Max Zero QS (black / grey)
  • New Clarks Kendra Sienna Heels Black For Women
  • 2016 Curry 2.5 top Quality 3 Elite Playoff 2016 Floor General China Red
  • 2017 Nike More Women's Nike Air Pegasus 83 Print University Red/University Red/Sail/Tour Yellow Shoes Canada UHU2304103
  • Pumps & Heels Women LifeStride Lazer Too Pump Black Top Quality
  • Pantofi De Golf Nike Lunar Control 4 Dama Negrii/Gri/Albi (515310XJZ)
  • Mens Air Jordan Hydro 4 Sandals Size 7 XS Black new Red Slides 705163-001
  • Boots Men Magnum Sport Mid Plus Work Boot Black Wholesale Price
  • Mens Nike Air Zenyth Shoes - White/Red/Black
  • Nike Roshe One Winter Casual Shoes Men Obsidian/White
  • Adidas NMD Human Race Blue
  • Authentic 233035 Nike Shox R4 Men Black Shoes