Men's Converse Chuck Taylor All Star Leather Wool Hi-Top Casual Shoes (Grey/White) 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 Northern Ireland 2016 Away Gk Socks Grey - Accessories Socks,Men's Dolfin Swim Trunks Board Short (Red),Fred Perry Laurel Wreath Tape Track Top Red - Mens Track Tops,. 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, Puma Bordeaux 2016/17 Stadium Jersey Blue - Mens Top,Men's FILA At Peake 16 Trail Running Shoes (CASTLEROCK),Nike Air Max 1 Premium 'Safari' White/White-Kumquat Item UK0058,.

"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 Zoom Pegasus 31 Black/Blue Lagoon-Clear Water-White Item UK0102,Men's G.H. BASS & CO. Explorer Performance Crew Short-Sleeve Tee (MEDIEVAL BLUE-47),Nike Lunarglide 6 Volt/Black-Flash Lime-Liquid Lime Item UK0145,, 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 Skateboarding Matchcourt Footwear White/Footwear White/Footwear White Item UK0271,Men's HANES Classics Tagless Boxer Briefs 5-Pack (ASSORTED),Converse Chuck Taylor All Star Hi Black Monochrome Item UK0346,. Like other industries in a rapidly aging Japan, the construction business is desperate for labor. Nike Air Huarache Run Premium Varsity Royal/Wolf Grey-Cool Grey Item UK0391,Men's HANG TEN Laguna Shoes (TAN),Nike Roshe NM Flyknit SE Wolf Grey/Black-White Item UK0465,. As baby boomers retire, the labor shortage -- in construction and in the wider economy -- is bound to become more acute.

2017 Nike Shop Men's Nike Air Trainer Huarache Medium Olive/Jade Stone/White/Black Shoes Canada LMN9103708 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, Reebok Classic Leather Vintage Inspired Collegiate Navy/Excellent Red/Sandtrap Item UK0570,Men's Hot Chillys Pepper Skins Crewneck (Black),Vans Classic Slip-On True White Item UK0638,, 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.

Adriana Degreas Printed cotton-voile robe YWPBPO,Men's HURLEY Sunny Dayz Short-Sleeve Tee (CREAM-ECRU/SAIL-K),AP67594 TP Forest Wooden Seesaw,, Japan is in the midst of a quiet revolution when it comes to immigrant workers. Bandeau & Soft Bras Papyrus Ombre Wireless Bralette Cosabella AUVPBK,Men's HYBRID Spidey Logo Tee (RED HTR),Boutique Yaz Paper Bag Waist Bandeau Jumpsuit Petite jjf_33883 Going Out,.

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, Carter's BABY - Pyjamas - pink multi-coloured MH10083,Men's ISLAND SURF COMPANY Cod Boat Shoes (GREY),CLIFTON 4 Grey FNSRGQ Hoka one one,.

2017 Nike Sports Shoes Online Men's Nike Air Max 95 Red/White Shoes Canada GIG7603097

Immigration remains a politically charged issue in Japan, D CAREY A Marine BQTAXL Geox,Men's KEEN Detroit Mid Waterproof Steel Toe Hiking Boots (GREY HOUNDSTOOTH),DUNE - Eboni snake-embossed leather trainers AHZYMD,. "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. "ELLA VERNIS Black E6I0A0 LPB Shoes,Men's KEEN Oakridge Hiking Shoes (Raven/Burnt Ochre),FG URISPORT Black / Turquoise 5ID4OU Freegun,."

2017 Nike Trainers Fashion Men's Nike Lebron 12 Blue/Metallic Silver/Total Orange/Electric Green Shoes Canada NAI250972 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.FUCJMY Red Chili Durango Nano 4 Climbing Shoes Children blue/black (2018),Men's LAYER 8 CVC Fleece Training Full-Zip Hoodie (CHARCOAL HTHR-CHH),Gracie Camo 90's High Neck Playsuit fas_61662 Casual,. 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.

"HUARACHE RUN SE GRADE SCHOOL White GGXXU4 Nike,Men's LAREDO Tallahassee Cowboy Boots Black D-Width (BLACK),Jennifer Chamandi Lorenzo suede pumps OHZCRK,, like all other countries, does have racist problems, but hate crime and hate speech are relatively JOUVALI Kaki YHRCOX Benetton,Men's Majestic Premier Home Plate Hooded Tech Fleece (Granite/Granite),KURT GEIGER LONDON - Kenner suede slip-on loafers Tan FFPYTH,," 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.

2017 Nike White And Grey Shoes Men's Nike Kobe Mentality Bright Crimson/Black/White Shoes Canada NWL060966

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

LOEWE - Elephant Bleached minibag denim shoulder bag Blue denim/wte/blk RRIYEC,Men's Merrell Jungle Moc Casual Shoes (Classic Taupe),Mae Snake Print China Detail Jumpsuit lwk_39936 Going Out,, and 60% are 65 or older. Most of their children have left for the city in search of better-paying office work.

Men\'s T Short Round Round Neck Short Sleeve 3D Printed Slim Fit Top CVECQ33 Euro-Style Blue,Men's MERRELL Moab 2 Ventilator Low Hiking Shoes Walnut (WALNUT),Name it NBFFANILLE RUMBA BABY - Jumpsuit - dark saphire blue denim VR07357,, 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.

2017 Pink And Blue Nike Shoes Men's Nike Dual Fusion Ballistec Advantage Persian Violet/Midnight Navy/Black/Hot Lava Shoes Canada NKL7803618 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, NOA Brown EVTLWE Airstep / A.S.98,Men's MERRELL Moab FST Leather Hiking Shoes Boulder Wide (BOLDER),PB34181 Nicky Grey Ribbed Twist Front Crop Top,, where the temperature can reach 40 C in summer.

Pretty Ballerinas Ballet pumps - azul dark blue ID24758,Men's Mountain Hardwear Microchill Zip T Half Zip Fleece Pullover (Azul),Rebecca Ruffle Sleeve Bow Back Blouse gvo_11765 Workwear,. He speaks basic Japanese, which he picked up watching anime series such as "One Piece" and "Detective Conan."

SABINE Mother-of-pearl / Pink V1NL2I GBB,Men's NAUTILUS 2114 Composite Toe Athletic Work Shoes Wide (BLACK),SNEAKERS black FX9UBK TUK,," 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.

STEP2WO - Regina 2 leather school shoes 7-11 years Black leather XMERUP,Men's NEW BALANCE 410v5 Trail Running Shoes Black/Thunder (BLACK - MED),THE KOOPLES - Lace-trimmed crepe jumpsuit Bla01 UIZRYV,.

2017 Solid Black Nike Shoes Men's Jordan Cp3.Ix Blue Shoes Canada YBB640296 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."

UMMNKK inov-8 AT/C 8" Running Pant Men black (2018),Men's Nike Alpha Menace Shark Wide Football Cleats (Black/White),VXDBPF BLACK River Island Smart Slim Fit Trouser,.

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.

YSIDRO UNIVERSAL - METALLIC Brown P22X3A Teva,adidas Originals Clima Cool 1 Black,2016 Andrew Wiggins ROY Award With Crazylight Free Shipping Boost 2015,.

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

2016 Under Armour UA Design ClutchFit top Quality Prodigy Brand University Black Red,adidas Originals Gazelle Purple,AH8050-002 NIKE AIR top Quality MAX Bargain 270 Black White,.

2017 White And Pink Nikes Men's Jordan Galaxy Black/White Shoes Canada SKU850411 Internet company Rakuten, based in Tokyo, has been actively recruiting foreign talent. (Photo by Yasunori Okamura)

Big Boy Youth UA Steph Curry 2 Two Great USA All American Midnight Navy Navy White Red,adidas Originals La Trainer OG Blue,Comfortable Nike Kyrie 3 Really Cool Black Best Deals Yellow,. 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,Girls Nike Kyrie 3 Black Awesome Gold discounts White,adidas Originals Stan Smith Bold W White,KD 7 Sport Comfortable University Black Unique Red Used,, 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, Kobe 9 Elite Free Shipping Christmas Crimson 630847 600 Black Bright White,adidas Originals Superstar 80s Woven Black,LeBron 12 Elite ID Exclusive John Elliott Co Used All White wholesale,.

adidas Originals Men's Shoes SAMBA - Trainers - black 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. Lebron 13 XIII Avatar Free Shipping Floral Online,adidas Originals Tubular Nova Primeknit Blue,Nike Air Canada Max Sequent 3 Mens Create 921694-402 Dark Sky Blue Knit Running Shoes Official,.

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 Air Max 2015 Shoes Pow Recommended Foil Aqua Customize Blue Pink Websites Silver,adidas Originals X_PLR Black,Nike Air Max Uptempo 2 Black White Good,, 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 LeBron 12 Low Strike Lava 724557 Customize 003 Black Brand Metallic Silver Volt Online Green,Converse All Star 70 Wool Hi White,NIKE WMNS Amazing AIR AU MORE UPTEMPO 415082 030 Shoes,.

Family ties

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

adidas Performance Men's Shoes D HOWARD 5 - Basketball shoes - solar blue/blue beauty/neon pink 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, sale Kobe 10 Elite promotion Rose Black Gold Comfort,Converse All Star Mono Leather Hi Black,UA Stephen Curry One 1 Dove Order Black Grey Best Deals Green White,, Care Port Itabashi.  

Under Armour Micro G Offer Anatomix Spawn 2 Black White New York,New Balance MRL999AH White,2016 Sale Nike Air Max 1 Shoes Grey White Black Total Orange Mens,, 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. 

ASICS Men's Shoes GEL-NEBRASKA - Walking trainers - black

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. 2016 Sale Nike Air Max 90 Premium EM Shoes Woman White Black Silver Pink,Nike Air Force 1 ,2016 Sale Nike Air Max Lunar90 Shoes LTR QS 'Burnished' Mahogany Orange Mens,.  

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, 2016 Sale Nike Free Run 3 Blue Grey Mens Running Shoes,Nike Free Inneva Woven Blue,2017 All Nike Trainers Men's Nike Mercurialx Proximo Tf Metallic Gold Shoes Canada DHG8002654,. 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," 2017 Black Nikes Men's Nike Magistax Finale Ic Black/Volt/Midnight Navy/Black Shoes Canada QYX9002477,Nike SB Zoom Stefan Janoski L Brown,2017 Buy Shoes Nike Men's Nike Flex Run 2015 Black/Dark Grey/Cool Grey Shoes Canada GEF5001680,."

2017 Dark Grey Nike Shoes Men's Nike Sfb Field 6" Cargo Khaki/Gum Light Brown/Military Brown Shoes Canada QNC3103517,

Subscribe to get unlimited access to all articles.

2017 Light Blue Nike Sneakers Men's Nike Roshe One Print Cool Grey/Black/White Shoes Canada HVH1803476,Reebok x FACE Club C 85 Spirit White,2017 Nike Acg Men's Nike Internationalist Premium Obsidian/White/Obsidian Shoes Canada PME8003382,
NAR site on phone, device, tablet

2017 Nike Basketball Men's Nike Free 4.0 Flyknit Black/Wolf Grey/Dark Grey/White Shoes Canada YOF8201790,

Subscribe to get unlimited access to all articles.

3 months for $9

2017 Nike Cheap Men's Nike Hyperchase Wolf Grey/Cool Grey/Black/White Shoes Canada HVR600861,Vans x Nintendo Authentic Multi,2017 Nike Dunk Men's Nike Code Pro 3/4 D Black/Anthracite/Metallic Silver Shoes Canada OSG0601146,
NAR site on phone, device, tablet

Your trial period has expired

You need a subscription to...

2017 Nike Free On Sale Men's Nike Free Flyknit Nsw Black Shoes Canada QKL2703730,adidas OutdoorResponse Trail Boost,2017 Nike Lunar Nike Vapor Carbon 2014 Elite Td Pf White/Navy/Coast Shoes Canada FQB8101336,

Your full access to the Nikkei Asian Review has expired

You need a subscription to:

2017 Nike Online Shop Men's Nike Sb Lunar Stefan Janoski Mid Shield Black/White/Cool Grey Shoes Canada GNU4102139,adidas Adilette - Brooklyn Nets,2017 Nike Sale Trainers Men's Nike Air Zoom Terra Kiger 3 Cargo Khaki/Deep Royal Blue/Voltage Green Shoes Canada CYH1601626,
2017 Nike Shoes For Sale Men's Nike Mercurial Superfly Fg Black/Gold Shoes Canada YBE7502511,adidas Zero Bounce,2017 Nike Shoes Online Buy Men's Nike Blazer High Dark Obsidian/White/Dark Obsidian Shoes Canada HXI5803245,
  • Inexpensive 159727 Nike Roshe Run Men Black Gray Shoes
  • Nike Air Jordan 3 Retro Black/Dark Charcoal-Black Sneakers 3126050
  • Adidas Poweralley 2 Men Baseball Shoes White 750390
  • Nike Air Max Men Shoes Pink Red /Nike Jordan [ N1658]
  • Light Armory Blue Blue Moon Shoes - Nike Air Max Sequent 2 - Men's - Binary Blue White 2RS8818 - Running
  • Girls Boots Black
  • Affordable Price DOLCE & GABBANA Martini Jacquard & Stretch Wool - Black men's Jackets - 41NI146
  • adidas Originals Equipment Racing 91/16 W Black
  • Mens Nike Ai Max Terra Ninety White Blue Shoe Online Without Sale Tax
  • Mens ASICS Running Shoes - GEL-Exalt 3 - Silver/Black Item M0158
  • The Most Popular Refresh Oceana Boots Taupe For Women Outlet
  • Nike Air cheaps Max 98 OG White/Team Orange-Met Silver 640744-104
  • Keen Women's Shoes VENICE - Walking sandals - gargoyle/irish green
  • PRIMEOVERS TEXAS WOMENS/OLDER GIRLS LEATHER SCHOOL SHOES
  • Oxfords & Lace-Ups Men Kenneth Cole T-Oil Away Wingtip Oxford Black Shop
  • Men's - Nike SB Zoom Stefan Janoski Canvas Black / White-Gum Light Brown-Metallic Grey Shoes
  • Best Nike Air Force 1 Low Special Travis Scott - AQ4211 100
  • NIKE Air Jordan 11 XI Retro IE Low Youth GS
  • Jordan 7 Graphic 657894-100 White/Wolf Grey
  • Donne Nike Nere Chiaro Porpora Air Latest Max Factory TN Scarpe