Nike Shoes Online Shopping Zoom Lebron 9.5 Mens on Sale White Black Gold 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

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"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.

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Nike Air Max 95 TT Awesome 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 Lunartempo 2 Men White/Pure Platinum/Black Running Shoes,Nike SB Paul Rodriguez 7 VR Athletic Shoes Black / Lt Crimson / Dark Grey Base,Nike LunarEpic Flyknit Running Shoes Sneakers Green White Black 818676-002,, 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.

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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 LeBron XIII (0-4c) Infants Bootie Mulberry/Pure Platinum/Vivid Purple/Black,Nike SB Mens Shoes / Black Gym Medium Brown White Shoes Nike Sb Satire EY35Jj1r,Nike Lebron James 9 Low Blue White Black Basketball Shoes,.

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Immigration remains a politically charged issue in Japan, Nike LeBron 13 EP XIII James Basketball Shoes Yellow Dark Blue 823301,Nike SB Luxury Dunk Low QS Latest Deconstructed Soulland Special 918288-041,Nike Lebron 13 All Star Men Nike LeBron 13 Elite EXT Linen Release Date promotion SneakerFiles Nike Lebron 13 Low Modern Notoriety,. "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 Lebron 13 All Star get Men Lowest price Purple Green AU White Nike Lebron 13 ID Nike LeBron 13 Page 3 of 5 EU Kicks Sneaker Magazine LeBron 13 All Star get Sneaker Assist,Nike SB Eric Koston 2 Athletic Shoes Men Photo Blue / Gray Wolf / Summit White,Nike Lebron 12 outlet Dunkman Store Men LeBron James 12 outlet Pound Weight Loss Incredible Andrew Lebron Shoes 12 outlet Nike Lebron lebron james shoes stores,."

Nike Air Max 90 QS Men Running Shoes Dark Blue Royal Blue Jade 813150-107 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.Nike Lebron 12 Dunkman Men LeBron stores Shoes Nike Lebron James discounts 13 12 Shoes Lebron James discounts 12 Foot Locker UK LeBron stores James discounts and His Hottest Nike LeBron stores 12 The Drop,Nike SB Dunk High Colourful TRD QS Super Danny Factory Supa Safety Orange/Hyper Blue-White AH0471-841,Nike Lebron 12 Dunkman Men Best Deals Nike Lebron 12 Data Lebron 12 Christmas James DS Nike Lebron 12 XII Authentic Easter sz13 Australia James pe sample,. 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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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 Kevin Durant KD 6 VI Aqua Green-Orange/Teal-Navy For Sale,Nike Roshe One SE Mens Shoes White,Nike KD 8 VIII iD Kevin Durant Men Basketball Shoes Purple Blue Green 818303-992,, where the temperature can reach 40 C in summer.

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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."

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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.

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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

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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.

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Nike Air Max 90 Men Bronze/Baroque Brown/Bamboo/Bronze Running Shoes 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)

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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. Nike Factory Sale Nike Mens Kyrie Irving 1 Black White Basketball Shoes Online,Nike Retro Air Jordan 6 Vi Men Basketball Shoes Black,Nike Factory Sale Nike Lebron 11 Graffiti White University Red Black Basketball Shoes Online,, via a loyalty point system.

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Family ties

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

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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 Factory Sale Mens Air Jordan 6 (VI) Retro Camo White Grey Black Shoes Online,Nike Retro Air Jordan 3 Iii Limited Edition Men Basketball Shoes Cool Grey,Nike Factory Sale Kids Air Jordan 3 (III) Retro White Blue Red Shoes Online,, Care Port Itabashi.  

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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. Nike Factory Sale 2015 Nike Hyperrev EP Black Green Basketball Shoes Online,Nike Penny Hardaway Men Basketball Shoes,Nike Factory Sale 2015 Kids Air Jordan 12 Retro All Black Shoes Online,.  

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, Nike Factory Sale 2015 Air Jordan 11 (XI) Low Retro White Black Red Shoes Online,Nike Nikelab Air Max 97 Mid x Good Riccardo Tisci Black Red,Nike Dunk SB New Low Cut Mens Shoes silver black dark blue,. 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.

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