Buy 153553 Nike Free Run 2 Women Gray Jade Fuchsia 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

Nike Air Force 1 07 LV8 University White/Gum Light Brown/White,Nike Kevin Durant Men Coupon_1702Nike Air Max 93 Black/Anthracite/Pure Platinum/Cool Grey,. 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, NIKE AIR ZOOM PEGASUS 31 Pink Pow/Fuchsia Flash/Black,Nike Kevin Durant Men Coupon_1682NIKE FLYKNIT TRAINER CHUKKA SFB Wolf Grey/White/Fuchsia Flash/Lyon 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, NIKE FREE TRAINER 5.0 V6 Game Royal/Obsidian/Deep Royal Blue/Volt,Nike Derrick Rose Men Coupon_1618NIKE LUNAR HYPERQUICKNESS (TEAM) Gym Red/Bright Crimson/Metallic,, 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. NIKE TW '15 Metallic Silver/Cool Grey/Black,Nike Derrick Rose Men Coupon_1659Women's Shoe Nike Air Max 2016 806772-601,. Like other industries in a rapidly aging Japan, the construction business is desperate for labor. Women's Shoe Nike Air Max 1 Ultra Essentials 704993-500,Nike Kevin Durant Men Coupon_1704Women's Shoe Nike Air Max Thea LX 881203-400,. As baby boomers retire, the labor shortage -- in construction and in the wider economy -- is bound to become more acute.

Womens Shoes Calvin Klein Cadence Black Patent/Stretch 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, Women's Shoe Nike Free RN Flyknit 831070-800,Nike Kevin Durant Men Coupon_1749Women's Shoe Nike Free Transform Flyknit 833410-300,, 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.

Adidas D Rose 4.0 Boys Toddler Black/Light Scarlet/Neo Iron Metallic Basketball Shoes V21499,Nike Derrick Rose Men Coupon_1668Nike Air Max 90 Boys Preschool Black/Cool Grey Running Shoes V15176,, Japan is in the midst of a quiet revolution when it comes to immigrant workers. Nike Free 5.0 2015 Boys Preschool Dark Grey/Black/Wolf Grey/Cool Grey/White Running Shoes V49968,Nike Kevin Durant Men Coupon_1711Adidas D Rose 773 Iii Boys Grade School Light Onix/Black Basketball Shoes V61174,.

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 Flex Fury 2 Boys Grade School Grey/Black Running Shoes V56632,Nike Kevin Durant War Boots Men Coupon_1778Nike Free 5.0 2015 Girls Grade School Copa/Vivid Pink/White/Metallic Silver Running Shoes V48436,.

Womens Boots CARLOS by Carlos Santana Claudia Wide Shaft Black

Immigration remains a politically charged issue in Japan, Nike Roshe One Girls Grade School Wolf Grey/Hyper Pink/Cool Grey/White Running Shoes V98675,Nike Kevin Durant War Boots Men Coupon_1786Adidas D Rose 6 Mens Scarlet/White/Scarlet Basketball Shoes V74265,. "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 Isolation 2 Mid Mens Black/Silver/White Basketball Shoes V27228,Nike Kevin Durant Men Coupon_1730Adidas Energy Boost 3 Mens Mid Grey/Black/Blue Running Shoes V64113,."

Womens Sandals CARLOS by Carlos Santana Tonalea Black 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 Voloomix Mens Royal/White Slippers V73037,Nike Kobe Bryant Men Coupon_1827Adidas Barricade 2015 Mens Bright Yellow/Black/Solar Yellow Tennis Shoes V42666,. 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.

"Nike Air Max 2015 Mens Black/White/Black Running Shoes V33198,Converse Thunderbolt Modern Unisex Shoe 155043C-215Nike Air Max Tavas Mens Pure Platinum/Cool Grey/Game Royal/Game Royal Running Shoes V69811,, like all other countries, does have racist problems, but hate crime and hate speech are relatively Nike Flex Run 2015 Mens Black/Dark Grey/Cool Grey Running Shoes V17155,Men's Baseball Cleat Nike Air Swingman Legend (Silver Streak) 807130-070Nike Lunarestoa 2 Mens Black/Anthracite/Cool Grey/Black Running Shoes V13552,," 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.

Womens Sandals Clarks Delsie Grace Light Tan Nubuck

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

Nike Zoom Structure 18 Mens Total Orange/Voltage Green/Ghost Green/Black Running Shoes V81578,Men's Baseball Cleat Nike Huarache 2K Filth 749359-011Adidas Pure Boost X Womens White/White/Shock Yellow Running Shoes V95849,, and 60% are 65 or older. Most of their children have left for the city in search of better-paying office work.

Adidas Supernova Sequence 8 Womens Night Navy/Raw Purple/Super Blue Running Shoes V66702,Men's Baseball Cleat Nike Trout 2 Pro 807133-014Nike Air Max Sequent Womens Chalk Blue/Deep Night/White/Chalk Blue Running Shoes V43620,, 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.

Womens Sandals Clarks Hayla Pier Brown Multi 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 Air Max 90 Womens Black/White/Metallic Silver Running Shoes V35277,Men's Basketball Shoe Jordan Ultra.Fly 834268-002Nike Flex Experience Run 4 Womens Black/Anthracite/White/Metallic Dark Grey Running Shoes V14050,, where the temperature can reach 40 C in summer.

Nike Juvenate Womens Enamel Green/Spring Leaf Running Shoes V53227,Men's Basketball Shoe Kyrie 3 BHM 852415-001Nike Lunarglide 7 Womens Black/Anthracite/Wolf Grey/Summit White Running Shoes V14168,. He speaks basic Japanese, which he picked up watching anime series such as "One Piece" and "Detective Conan."

Men's Nike Mercurialx Finale IC Metallic Gold/Challenge Red/White/Black UK#N5-8990,Men's Basketball Shoe Kobe XI Elite 822675-510Men's Nike Hyperdunk 2015 Soar/Green Strike/Volt UK#N5-9137,," 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 Kids Flex Supreme 4 Black/Pink Pow/White UK#N5-9605,Converse Chuck Taylor All Star Looney Tunes High Top Unisex Shoe 158235F-100Women's Nike Flex 2015 RN Vivid Purple/Hot Lava/Bright Crimson/Black UK#N5-9011,.

Womens Shoes Clarks Alitay Giana Black Patent Leather 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."

Sik Silk Small Logo Backpack CP89,Men's Basketball Shoe Nike Zoom KD 9 843392-002Converse Infant Chuck Taylor All Star Party High Trainer CP497,.

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.

Creative Recreation Junior Cesario Low XVI Trainer CP597,Men's Firm-Ground Soccer Cleat Nike Magista Orden FG 651329-807Timberland Junior Euro Rock Hiker Boot CP688,.

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

Vans Nursery Authentic Trainer CP801,Men's Boot NikeLab Air Max Woven 921854-001adidas Originals Sport Essentials Hooded Top CP946,.

Womens Boots COACH Talia Black/Saddle/Shiny Rubber/Matte Finished Rubberized Leather Internet company Rakuten, based in Tokyo, has been actively recruiting foreign talent. (Photo by Yasunori Okamura)

Ellesse Tommasi Hooded Top CP1049,Men's Football Training Shoe Nike Field General 2 (California) 749310-684Sik Silk Fishtail Oil Dye Hooded Top CP1152,. 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,Brave Soul Brandish Wool Overcoat CP1273,Men's Golf Shoe Jordan Trainer ST 833359-110Good For Nothing Nylon Bomber Jacket CP1393,, 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 Nike Alliance Jacket CP1477,Men's Nike Air Max 90 Ultra BR Shoe 725222-403Hawksworth Farne Cable Knit CP1809,.

Womens Sandals COACH Caterine Chalk 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. Cuckoos Nest Towelling Gym Short CP2116,Men's Nike Air Max Tailwind 7 683632-107Condemned Nation Radical Swim Short CP2298,.

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. EA7 Visibility Poly Tracksuit CP3594,Men's Nike Basketball Shoe Kyrie 2 819583-680Timberland 6 Inch Premium Boot CP3769,, 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," Fred Perry Byron Mid Suede Shoe CP3913,Men's Nike Internationalist Mid Shoe 682844-401adidas Originals Campus 80's Japan Pack Vintage Trainer CP4055,.

Family ties

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

Womens Shoes COACH Chelsea Gunmetal/Gunmetal Metallic Tumbled/Metallic Tumbled 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, adidas Originals Tubular X Trainer CP4152,Men's Nike Shoe CJ3 Flyweave Trainer (Lions)725231-014Converse Chuck Taylor All Star Brea Leather Trainer CP4297,, Care Port Itabashi.  

Creative Recreation Cesario Low Woven Trainer CP4381,Men's Nike Shoe Hyperfr3sh 759996-600Hugo Boss Light Air Trainer CP4475,, 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. 

Womens Boots Cole Haan Carlyle Dress Boot Extended Calf Chestnut

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 Paul Rodriguez CTD Canvas Trainer CP4649,Men's Nike Shoe Jordan Flight Runner 2 715572-018Nike Flystepper 2K3 Trainer CP4746,.  

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 Free Run 2 Trainer CP4873,Men's Running Shoe Nike Air Max 2017 849559-005Supra Noiz Trainer CP5038,. 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," Y3 Sprint Trainer CP5131,Men's Running Shoe Nike Air Zoom Odyssey 749338-607Womens Sandals adidas Voloomix Sleek LG Vivid Mint/Clear Grey/Solar Pink,."

Womens Shoes adidas X 15.3 TF Black/Shock Pink/Shock Mint,

Subscribe to get unlimited access to all articles.

Womens Boots Aerosoles Money Role Black,Men's Shoe Nike Air Max CB 34 316940-001Womens Sandals Aerosoles Scone Dark Blue Patent,
NAR site on phone, device, tablet

Womens Shoes Aerosoles A2 by Aerosoles Big Hearted Peach,

Subscribe to get unlimited access to all articles.

3 months for $9

Womens Boots ALDO Ladosa Black Suede,Men's Shoe Nike Air Presto Ultra Flyknit 835570-006Womens Shoes ALDO Elizota Black Patent,
NAR site on phone, device, tablet

Your trial period has expired

You need a subscription to...

Womens Sandals Anne Klein Cailina Black/Black Fabric,Men's Shoe Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 33 831352-400Womens Shoes Anne Klein Tameron Black/White Fabric,

Your full access to the Nikkei Asian Review has expired

You need a subscription to:

Womens Shoes Badgley Mischka Seneca II Silver Metallic Suede,Men's Shoe Nike Dual Fusion Ballistec Advantage 685278-441Womens Sandals C Label Rollin-13 Fuchsia,
Womens Boots Calvin Klein Jeans Sienna Black,Men's Shoe Nike Free TR Versatility Amp (Argentina) 833336-410Womens Sandals Calvin Klein Doma Fearless Blue Toscana Leather,
  • Nike Derrick Rose Men Coupon_1614
  • Dc Shoes Mens Evan Smith Hi Shoe Men RF96858
  • WGS G12Q 20 watts 12" Guitar Speaker 16ohm
  • Nike Zoom KD IV Christmas Metallic Bronze Black Chilling Red Size 9.5
  • Polo Ralph Lauren Men's Tracksuit Top - Green - Training Jackets
  • Men's/Women's Nike Air Max 2015 Shoes All Black
  • Nike Air Force 1 Low Womens White Red T69q3122
  • Nike Air Max 2015 Running Shoes Black Flash Lime Hyper Punch White For Women
  • UK - [537081F] Converse All Star Ct Shoreline Slip Black Women Sneakers Sz 10.5 C98e9980
  • PSF Womens Safety Shoes 337 Black 6 UK 39 EU B005HQ2J9M
  • 2017 Nike For Womens Shoes Men's Air Jordan Future Low Midnight Navy/White/Grey Mist Shoes Canada EPP390180
  • Genuine Air Jordan 9 Olive
  • 2017 Nike Air Jordan Men's Nike Roshe One Flyknit Premium Pure Platinum/Calypso/Volt/Pure Platinum Shoes Canada OZC7803461
  • Cheap Air Jordan 7 Retro White Blue
  • Nike Mens Shoes / Varsity Red Met Gold Black Shoes Nike Romaleos Ii Power Lifting BD268756h16
  • Men's - Creative Recreation Dicoco Black / Malibu Shoes
  • AF-X Mid Recon Olive - C53b5458 nike shoes sale
  • Men's Nike Hypervenom Phantom II Leather AG-R Black/Total Orange/Black
  • Nike Air Max Lunar 90 Comfort C3.0 White Grey Infrared
  • Adidas Mens Shoes / University Red Metallic Silver White Shoes Adidas Adizero 5-Tool 2.0 JY25Ym1z
  • Men's Shoe Nike Kwazi SE 861687-200