Men Nike Air Max Wright'Running Shoes' Obsidian/Obsidian/Cool Grey/Pure Platinum Model UK2103 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

Aldo / Kireviel Brogue Shoes / Black Leather,Men Nike Air Force 1 Low'Basketball Shoes' Carbon Green/Medium Olive/White Model UK2119,Aldo / Thobe Brogue Shoes / Black Leather,. 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, Asics / Gel-Fit Vida Sneakers / Poseidon/Guava/Cockatoo,Men Nike Flex Run 2015'Running Shoes' Black/Dark Grey/Cool Grey Model UK2139,Asics Tiger / Gel-Lyte V Shoes / Blue/Indigo Blue,.

"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, Asics Tiger / Gel-Spotlyte Sneakers / White/Marble,Men Nike Prestige IV'Basketball Shoes' Black/Black/Anthracite Model UK2128,Betsy / Peeptoe Heels With Ankle Straps / Pink,, 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. Body Glove / Kim 2 Back To School Plimsolls / White,Men Nike Air Max 2015'Running Shoes' Game Royal/White/Blue Lagoon/Black Model UK2174,Call It Spring / Ocaolle Sandals / Gold,. Like other industries in a rapidly aging Japan, the construction business is desperate for labor. Cele / [Cele] Leather Canvas Sneakers with Contrasting Lace and Stitching / Coffee,Men Nike Lunar Force 1 Fuse Low'Basketball Shoes' Wolf Grey/Deep Royal Blue/Atomic Red/ Model UK2199,Clarks / Medly Sun Loafers / Burgundy Suede,. As baby boomers retire, the labor shortage -- in construction and in the wider economy -- is bound to become more acute.

4 x Eminence KILOMAX PRO 18 8ohm 18 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, Converse / CONS Star Player Skate Sneakers Ox / Navy,Men Reebok Club C'Casual Shoes' White/ Model UK2254,Crystal Korea Fashion / Crystal Korea Fashion Heels / Black,, 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.

Dorothy Perkins / Navy Heston Tassel Slippers / Navy Blue,Men Reebok Work N'Cushion'Walking Shoes' White Model UK2255,Dr. Martens / Pascal 8 Eye Boots / Cherry Red Antique Temperley,, Japan is in the midst of a quiet revolution when it comes to immigrant workers. Gioseppo / Arkade Boots / Tan,Men Nike SB Stefan Janoski Max'Casual Shoes' Tour Yellow/Green Pulse/University Red/Black Model UK22,Gripz / Imogen Big Buckle Ankle heels / Black,.

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, High Cultured / Casual Sandals / Grey,Men Nike SB Stefan Janoski Max'Casual Shoes' Tide Pool Blue/Black/Tour Yellow Model UK2250,Keds / Triple Seasonal Solid Mono Sneakers / Pale Peach,.

KEF In-Ceiling Ci50 Soundlight Speaker System - White : SALE

Immigration remains a politically charged issue in Japan, Louis Cuppers / Embossed Ballerinas / Grey,Men Reebok ZPump Fusion'Running Shoes' Grey/Black/White/Graphic Model UK2284,Mango / Velvet Strappy Heels / Grey,. "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. "Adidas Originals Court Vantage Blue,Men Nike SB P. Rod 9 CS'Casual Shoes' Ale Brown/Black/Gym Red Model UK2235,Adidas Originals Tubular Shadow Knit Blue,."

PAIR PACK (x2) Celestion FTR15-4080F 15 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 Originals Stan Smith W White,Men Salomon XA Pro 3D'Running Shoes' Swamp/Dark Titanium/Seaweed Green Model UK2395,Asics Gel-Kayano Trainer Evo W White,. 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.

"Converse Chuck Taylor All Star Looney Tunes Hi Bugs Grey,Men Salomon Wings Pro'Running Shoes' Grey Denim/Pearl Grey/Granny Green Model UK2399,Converse Chuck Taylor Band Ox M Grey,, like all other countries, does have racist problems, but hate crime and hate speech are relatively Converse Chuck Taylor All Star II Ox W White,Men Saucony Grid 9000'Running Shoes' Blue Model UK2455,Converse Chuck Taylor All Star Selene Monochrome Leather Mid White,," 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.

DS New Balance x Solebox Finals 10 Green M1500GSB Fieg Patta Kith Rare

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

New Balance M530 Black,Men Saucony Kilkenny XC Flat'Track & Field Shoes' Royal/Black/Viziorange Model UK2488,New Balance WR996 Beige,, and 60% are 65 or older. Most of their children have left for the city in search of better-paying office work.

Nike Nike Air Max Bw Ultra Grey,Men Timberland Jefferson Summit Mid Boot'Casual Shoes' Black Model UK2525,Nike Nike Dunk Ultra Black,, 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.

Adidas Big Sean Attitude Hi Mens 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, Nike W Air Max 90 Ultra Plush Pink,Men Timberland 6" Exo Web Boot'Casual Shoes' Navy Reflective Model UK2539,Nike Wmns Nike Free Og Superior Pink,, where the temperature can reach 40 C in summer.

Puma ST Runner NL Beige,Men Under Armour Spine Metal'Baseball Shoes' Black/Red Model UK2599,Puma WNS Ignite Sock Woven Grey,. He speaks basic Japanese, which he picked up watching anime series such as "One Piece" and "Detective Conan."

Vans Authentic Burgundy,Men Under Armour Yard Low ST'Baseball Shoes' Black/Royal Model UK2619,Vans Authentic Slim W Orange,," 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.

Converse Cons Ctas Pro Grid Print Unisex Shoes Atlantic 217031,Men Under Armour Speedform Gemini'Running Shoes' Blue Jet/Black Model UK2673,Irish Setter 896 9 Inch 400Gr Wingshooter Men Work Boots Amber Wp Leather 170010,.

New! Adidas Mens Springblade RAZOR Light Scarlet Red Black M17311 Running Shoes 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."

Puma Drift Cat 6 Tech Men Sneakers Black/White 398004,Men Under Armour Clutchfit Drive 2'Basketball Shoes' Graphite/Purple/Capri Model UK2670,Men Boots Gaucho 825427,.

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.

Dekline Dekline Bixby Men Sneakers Black Antique Suede 796588,Men Under Armour Micro G Torch 4'Basketball Shoes' Academy/Blue Jet/Hi Vis Yellow Model UK2720,Nike Nike Shox Conundrum Men Shoes White Purple 623635,.

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

New Look Men Flat Shoes Black 634677,Men Under Armour Micro G Limitless TR'Training Shoes' Black/White Model UK2777,Nike Nike Air Max 90 Men Shoes Grey Blue 528961,.

Adidas Adipower Pator Red SL Phantom Warning Silver Internet company Rakuten, based in Tokyo, has been actively recruiting foreign talent. (Photo by Yasunori Okamura)

Air Jordan Jordan 6 Men Shoes Fashion 110711,Men Under Armour Clutchfit Prodigy'Basketball Shoes' Purple/Black/White Model UK2791,Adidas 2015 Men Running Shoes Black White Vapour White 681726,. 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,Quiksilver Men Skater Shoes Brown 952236,Men Under Armour Micro G Engage Big Logo'Running Shoes' Scatter/Academy/Hi-Vis Yellow Model UK2824,Air Jordan Jordan 14 Men Shoes Grey Black White 100192,, 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, Nike Air Jordan 11 Men Sports Shoes Blac White 957757,Men Vans Sk8 Hi'Casual Shoes' Honey Model UK2876,Air Jordan Jordan Spizike Men Shoes Black Taxi Varsity Red White 710098,.

Adidas Stan Smith Gradient Buckle Men White Green 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. Vans Acid Denim Old Skool Kids Boys Shoes Navy/Black 200991,Men Vans Authentic'Casual Shoes' Dress Blue/Stripes Model UK2867,Nike Performance Kids Astro Turf Trainers Black 392483,.

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. Boys Slippers Fashion Color 752368,Nike Lunarglide 6 Anti-Fur Mens Shoes Light Grey Royalblue Yellow Z8313,Mode Adidas Soccer Boots ACE 15.1 Fg_AG Orange Black White A60i8875,, 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," Best Choice Adidas Men's Casual Sneakers Popular Originals Porsche Typ 64 All Black I47r7059,Nike Lunarspider LT+ 2 Mens Black Grey Running Shoes Z8349,Popular Style Adidas Superstar 80S Supercolor Men Casual Sneakers All Black X37k9358,.

Family ties

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

Adidas ZX 700 Running Shoes Black fluo Green Blue White 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, Factory Direct Air Jordan 13 Retro Aj13 Men Basketball Shoes Black Red White W50c3944,Nike Roshe Run Mens Running Shoes Premium Black Alarm Red Sail White Z8405,Best Choice Nike Air Max 90 West Yeezy Men Shoes Black Blue T39y7277,, Care Port Itabashi.  

Hot Sale Nike Free Flyknit 5.0 Men Running Shoes Gray Black Y53r4333,Nike Roshe Run Mens Running Shoes Premium Wolf Grey Peacock Blue Z8407,Factory Outlet Nike Lunar Force 1 Duckboot High Shoes For Men Blue Red Black C89x5418,, 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. 

Adidas Bounce Titan IV 5008 Men Black Green

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. Get Great Selection Nike Mercurial Finale II Turf Soccer Boots Black Pink White F22f8805,Nike Flyknit Lunar 3 Mens Running Shoes Blue/Black Z8545,Browse & Buy Online Nike MercurialX Finale Street Indoor Soccer Shoes Gold Black Red G70e7743,.  

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, Official Nike Sb Hyperfeel Koston 3 Skateboard Shoes For Men Blue Yellow S79y5553,Nike Flex Experience RN Mens Running Shoes Black White Z8511,BA8850 Big Boys Adidas Young Shoes Ultra Boost Uncaged Hytebe Velvet Red/Deep Garnet Big Boys Adidas,. 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," S79191 Torsion sneaker shoes Adidas ZX 700 Mens Wolf Grey and Hot Lava ZX 700 Torsion sneaker shoes,Nike Free 3.0 Flyknit Mens Running Shoes Red Orange Z8582,MTL574MR New Balance 574 Unisex University Red/Running White on feet New Balance 574,."

Nike Free Flyknit NSW Mens Black/Wolf Grey-White July 2016 Nike Frees,

Subscribe to get unlimited access to all articles.

Hollow Nike Free 5.0 All White July 2016 Nike Frees,Nike Lunarmax Flyknit Chukka SP Mens Running Trainers Bright Crimson Red Ash Grey Z9340,T5342/P HF Unit (NOT SHOWN),
NAR site on phone, device, tablet


Subscribe to get unlimited access to all articles.

3 months for $9

18 Sound 15LW2400 8ohm 15" 1200watt Extended LF Ferrite Driver,Nike Air Max 1 Mens Trainers Black White Grey Z9398,FaitalPRO 10PR300 8ohm 10" 300watt PA Speaker,
NAR site on phone, device, tablet

Your trial period has expired

You need a subscription to...

B&C 18TBX100 8ohm 18" 1200Watt LF Driver,Nike Air Max 1 Premium Tape Men's Running Shoes Volt Z9441,BMS 4592MID 2" Middle range Compression Driver 35 " VC 150 W AES 118 dB 8 Ohm,

Your full access to the Nikkei Asian Review has expired

You need a subscription to:

BMS 4596ND 2" Middle range Compression Driver 35 " VC 150 W AES 123 dB 16 Ohm,Nike Air Max 2015 Mens Running Shoes Black Orange Fluorescence Green Z9479,FaitalPRO 18FH510 18" 500 watt Ferrite Subwoofer,
Eminence PSD2002-16 1" 16ohm 80watt Compression Driver,Nike Air Max 90 Breathe Mens Running Trainers Blue White Grey Z9530,Eminence KappaLite 3010HO 10" 400W 8 Ohm Neodymium Loudspeaker,
  • Comfortable 236487 Nike Free 4.0 Flyknit Men Green Black Shoes
  • Vans Sk8 - High-Top Trainers - True Red/Black Z22i4500 cheap retail
  • Nike Air Max 90 Hyperfuse Men Sports Shoes Blue Grey Orange 272018
  • Cheap Mens Nike Air Max 2019 Black White Blue Sale
  • Dust Running - Arctic Pink White 7OM9168 - Men's - Nike Air Huarache - Shoes
  • Adidas Kids Casual Shoes White Red
  • Nike Air Presto Fly Worldwide
  • Designers Nike Tech Fleece Jogger Medium Olive/Black For Men Online
  • Nike LeBron 13 The Akronite Philosophy 807219 008 Mens basketball sports shoes sneakers
  • Nike WMNS Roshe Two BR (light blue / turquoise)
  • New Tuk Casbah Creepers Low Top Trainers Black For Women
  • Design Lebron 13 XIII Glow In Upcoming The Most Expensive Dark Glow Black Green
  • 2017 Women's Nike Sneakers Men's Jordan Rising High White/Wolf Grey/Infrared 23/Black Shoes Canada GFN150485
  • Pumps & Heels Women David Tate Sabra Pump Black Wholesale Price
  • Package Air Jordan 12 Men Kids Jordan 6 Retro Shoes 2018 Air Jordan Shoes Air Jordan 12 Retro Cherry THE FIX Mens 153265 012 AIR JORDAN 12 RETRO Online
  • Mens Adidas Shoes Adidas ZX 700 Shoes Blue Rose Pink No.2066
  • Boots Men Chukka Rubber-Soled Leather Boots Brown New Arrival
  • Mens Puma Trionfo Low Baylee Trainers Black Red
  • Nike Air Max 1 Essential Running Shoes Men Black/White/Blue
  • Nike Flyknit Racer Rainbow Blue