Buy 177407 Air Jordan Evolution 85 Men White Brown Black 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

Buy 186721 Nike Zoom Kobe VI Men Shoes,Cheap 216009 Nike Dunk High Men White Blue Sea Green ShoesComfortable 166870 Onitsuka Tiger By Asics Mexico 66 Men White Red 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, Inexpensive 194433 Puma Lifestyle Low Men Green Black Shoes,Cheap 197194 Nike Dunk High Men Red Metallic Gold ShoesBuy 192011 Adidas Ax Flux Unisex Black White 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, Authentic 182288 Adidas ZX 700 Unisex Red Black Purple Shoes,Buy 147135 Nike Dunk High Men Green Label Art Event ShoesBuy 204726 Nike Air Max Unisex Black Jade 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. Shopping 241068 Adidas Originals Superstar 2.0 Women Purple Orange Shoes,Authentic 191357 Nike Dunk High Men ShoesInexpensive 166543 Air Jordan 1 Retro Women Black Dark Pink Purple Shoes,. Like other industries in a rapidly aging Japan, the construction business is desperate for labor. Discount 212447 Air Jordan Retro 13 Women Black Cherry White Shoes,Comfortable 234148 Nike Dunk High Men ShoesAuthentic 181428 New Balance Classics Wl574 Women Blue Shoes,. As baby boomers retire, the labor shortage -- in construction and in the wider economy -- is bound to become more acute.

Nike Hayward Backpack CP85 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, Authentic 160391 New Balance W1540 Women Black Shoes,Cheap 180698 Nike Dunk High Men White Red ShoesInexpensive 178719 Nike Air Force 1 Women White Columbia 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.

Comfortable 189495 New Balance WW1765 Women White Blue Shoes,Shopping 197249 Nike Dunk High Men Blue Reef Candy Black ShoesComfortable 200194 Nike Air Max Women Black Fuchsia White Shoes,, Japan is in the midst of a quiet revolution when it comes to immigrant workers. Authentic 179517 Nike Air Max Ultra Women Black Pink Shoes,Shopping 228888 Nike Dunk High Men Blue Denim ShoesDiscount 171411 Nike Classic Cortez Nylon Women Red 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, Shopping 221761 Nike Dunks High Women Shoes,Shopping 202833 Nike Dunk Low Men Red Old Royal ShoesCheap 156263 Nike Dunk High Women Shoes,.

Flossy Infant Plimsole CP512

Immigration remains a politically charged issue in Japan, Comfortable 222051 Nike Free Run 2 Women Grey Grape Total Orange White Shoes,Buy 186562 Nike Dunk High Men White Red Black ShoesInexpensive 180829 Nike Lunareclipse 2 Women Grey White Pink 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. "Discount 173194 Puma Anti-fur Women Black Pink Shoes,Inexpensive 198934 Nike Dunk Low Men ShoesAdidas Bounce Titan V Men Coupon_071,."

Nike Junior Roshe Run Trainer CP631 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 JS Men Coupon_147,Inexpensive 195815 Nike Dunk High Men ShoesAdidas Springblade 2013 Men Coupon_244,. 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 Originals JS Women Coupon_321,Authentic 154584 Nike Dunk Low Men ShoesAdidas Springblade Men Coupon_224,, like all other countries, does have racist problems, but hate crime and hate speech are relatively Christian Louboutin Sale Women Coupon_509,Inexpensive 226121 Nike Dunk Low Men Brown White Horse ShoesChristian Louboutin Sale Women Coupon_572,," 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.

Asylum Native Spray On Jean CP817

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

Giuseppe Zanotti Sale Women Coupon_669,Authentic 203958 Nike Dunk Low Men Blue ShoesJimmy Choo Pumps Women Coupon_794,, 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_823,Comfortable 147025 Nike Dunk Mid Pro SB Men Gray Yellow ShoesNew Balance Men Coupon_1004,, 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.

Converse Core Overhead Hooded Top CP997 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, New Balance Men Coupon_1051,Cheap 158461 Nike Dunk Low Men Grey ShoesNew Balance 574 Men Coupon_1139,, where the temperature can reach 40 C in summer.

New Balance 574 Men Coupon_1257,Shopping 242343 Nike Dunks High Men Minnie Mouse ShoesNew Balance 998 Men Coupon_1337,. He speaks basic Japanese, which he picked up watching anime series such as "One Piece" and "Detective Conan."

New Balance 574 Women Coupon_1431,Authentic 152694 Nike Free 3.0 V3 Men Green White ShoesNew Balance 996 Women Coupon_1529,," 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_1574,Comfortable 221262 Nike Free 3.0 V4 Men Gray White ShoesNike Kevin Durant Men Coupon_1749,.

Rose London Longline Hooded Top CP1147 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."

Converse Chuck Taylor All Star II Shield Canvas Unisex Boot 153570C-333,Buy 222146 Nike Free 3.0 V4 Men Gray Black ShoesMen's Basketball Shoe Kobe A.D. 852425-004,.

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.

Converse Thunderbolt Modern Unisex Shoe 155040C-423,Comfortable 196849 Nike Free 3.0 V4 Men Black Gray White ShoesMen's Golf Shoe Nike Lunar Control Vapor 849971-100,.

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 FREE 4.0 FLYKNIT 717075-302,Cheap 223149 Nike Free 4.0 V2 Men Purple Grey ShoesMen's Nike Shoe Kobe Mentality 2 818952-001,.

Condemned Nation Reno Varsity Jacket CP1306 Internet company Rakuten, based in Tokyo, has been actively recruiting foreign talent. (Photo by Yasunori Okamura)

Men's Running Shoe Nike Free 3.0 Flyknit 718418-100,Inexpensive 149306 Nike Free 5.0 V4 Men Light Grey Green White ShoesMen's Running Shoe Nike LunarTempo 2 818097-401,. 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 Trainer ST 820253-403,Authentic 157422 Nike Free 5.0 V4 Men Black Blue ShoesMen's Shoe Nike Air Max 90 Ultra Essential 819474-005,, 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 Zoom All Out Flyknit 844134-616,Authentic 229674 Nike Free Run 2 Men Black Navy White ShoesMen's Shoe Nike Flyknit Chukka SneakerBoot 805092-300,.

Franklin & Marshall Small Logo Hooded Top CP1062 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 Metcon 2 819899-480,Cheap 155804 Nike Free Run 3 Men Black White ShoesMen's Shoe Nike Zoom KD 9 (Texas) 899640-110,.

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 Training Shoe Nike Air Max Full Ride TR 1.5 869633-011,Inexpensive 148334 Nike Free Trainer Men Gray Green White ShoesMen's Turf Soccer Shoe Nike MercurialX Proximo TF 718775-580,, 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 ZOOM PEGASUS 31 Black/Clearwater/White/Blue Lagoon,Authentic 173178 Nike Free Tr Fit Men Black ShoesNIKE FREE FLYKNIT CHUKKA Volt/Fuchsia Flash/Lyon Blue/Black,.

Family ties

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

Ellesse Zoff Crew Neck Cable Knit Jumper CP1797 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 ROSHE RUN Brght Crmsn/Brght Crmsn-Tm Orn,Cheap 147670 Nike Hyperize Kobe Bryant Olympic Men White Red ShoesWomen's Running Shoe Nike Free RN 831509-100,, Care Port Itabashi.  

Women's Shoe Nike Air Zoom Elite 8 748589-401,Authentic 219073 Nike Kobe Dream Season II Low Men White Black Purple ShoesWomen's Shoe Nike Internationalist 629684-406,, 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. 

EA7 Core Training Fleece Short CP2120

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 Tri Fusion Run Boys Toddler Game Royal/Black/Metallic Silver/White Running Shoes V54584,Comfortable 245272 Nike Hyperdunk Kobe Bryant Olympic Men Black Red ShoesAdidas Element Refine Boys Preschool Black/White/Vivid Mint Running Shoes V36751,.  

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 Air Max 95 Boys Grade School Black/Blue Lagoon/Volt/White Running Shoes V14253,Inexpensive 180639 Nike Lebron 10 Men Red Black White ShoesNike Air Max 90 Girls Grade School Obsidian/Bright Mango/Chalk Blue/Canary Running Shoes V66958,. 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 D Lillard 2.0 Mens Gold/Dark Grey/Green Glow Basketball Shoes V56135,Authentic 239053 Nike Lunar Macleay Men Black Orange ShoesAdidas Adizero Tempo 6 Mens Infrared/Tech Silver Metallic/Hero Ink Running Shoes V60316,."

Adidas Originals Adilette Mens Germany/Black/Red/Yellow Slippers V55465,

Subscribe to get unlimited access to all articles.

Nike Air Max Wright Mens Dark Grey/Deep Royal Blue/White Running Shoes V50331,Cheap 149153 Nike Shox Conundrum Men White Black Red ShoesNike Air Zoom Pegasus 32 Mens Pure Platinum/Dark Grey/Black Running Shoes V69845,
NAR site on phone, device, tablet

Nike Free 5.0 2015 Mens Black/White/White Running Shoes V37385,

Subscribe to get unlimited access to all articles.

3 months for $9

Nike Zoom Winflo 2 Mens Wolf Grey/Anthracite/Racer Blue/White Running Shoes V96808,Cheap 151193 Nike Shox O Nine Men White Blue ShoesAdidas Ultra Boost Womens Sun Glow/Solid Grey/Purple Glow Running Shoes V79681,
NAR site on phone, device, tablet

Your trial period has expired

You need a subscription to...

Nike Air Max Sequent Womens Fuchsia Glow/Hyper Orange/Vivid Purple/Black Running Shoes V54286,Cheap 168552 Nike Shox Nz 2.0 Men White Blue ShoesNike Air Zoom Pegasus 32 Womens Vivid Purple/Fuchsia Glow/Hyper Orange/Black Running Shoes V85251,

Your full access to the Nikkei Asian Review has expired

You need a subscription to:

Nike Free 5.0 2015 Womens Violet Ash/White/Hyper Orange/Black Running Shoes V83961,Cheap 176258 Nike Shox R4 Men Grey Pink ShoesMen's Nike Mercurial Victory V FG Bright Crimson/Persian Violet UK#N5-9314,
Men's Nike Hyperdunk 2014 Bright Mango/Black UK#N5-8762,Comfortable 168411 Nike Shox R4 Men Black Pink ShoesWomen's Nike Orive Lite Black/Cool Grey/White/Black UK#N5-9615,
  • Authentic 234545 Nike Dunk High Men Brown Camo Shoes
  • The Best Cheap Nike Performance Air Max 2016 - Cushioned Running Shoes - Black/White H5l6632
  • Men Road Running Shoes Black 719738
  • Unisex Converse Chuck Taylor All Star Lean Leather Low Top - Shoe XD233319e
  • Clothing - Under Armour Pursuit Tapered Pants - True Grey Heather True Grey Heather 2SB4410 - Casual - Men's
  • Authentic Air Jordan 14 Black Suede shoes
  • Nike Shox Roadster 12 Grey Blue White Shoes
  • Nike Air Vapormax Flyknit Websites 2.0 Reverse Orca White/Black Authentic 942842-103
  • Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 33 iD Black Gold Mens Running Shoes Sneakers 889350 991
  • Nike SB Air Zoom Stefan Janoski CNVS PRM (black / white)
  • New New Balance 680 Running Shoes Pink For Women Sale Online
  • 2017 Nike Fingertrap Max NRG Camo Turbo Green outlet Black-Obsidian-Electric Green outlet
  • 2017 Nike Shoes Black Womens Men's Jordan Super.Fly 4 Black/Wolf Grey/Infrared 23/Black Shoes Canada KLN540520
  • Pumps & Heels Women Kelly & Katie Valentina Pump Black Online Shop
  • Palladium Boue Pampa Oxford MWR068412
  • Mens Air Jordan Air Jordan 7 VII Retro Black Chambray Light Graphite No.2379
  • Boots Men Kenneth Cole Reaction Desert Wind Chukka Boot Brown Best Buy
  • Mens Nike Shox R3 Shoes Brown White
  • Polo Ralph Lauren Tynedale Casual Shoes Men Dark Blue
  • Adidas Originals Stan Smith laser
  • Authentic 223421 Nike Shox R4 Men White Pink Shoes