Cheap 157877 Nike Lunareclipse 2 Women Black White Orange 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 MAX 95 Dk Obsidian/Hyper Cobalt/Flash Lime/Met Silver,Nike Kevin Durant War Boots Men Coupon_1785NIKE AIR ZOOM PEGASUS 31 Vapor Green/White/Flash Lime/Black,. 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 FREE 1.0 CROSS BIONIC Polar/White/Pink Pow,Nike Kobe Bryant Men Coupon_1808NIKE INTERNATIONALIST Blue Force/Ice Blue/Black/White,.

"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 LUNAR HYPERQUICKNESS (TEAM) Gym Red/Bright Crimson/Metallic,Nike Kobe Bryant Men Coupon_1809NIKE SB STEFAN JANOSKI MAX White/Black,, 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. Women's Running Shoe Nike Flyknit Lunar 3 698182-603,Nike Kevin Durant War Boots Men Coupon_1780Women's Shoe Nike Air Force 1 Low Upstep BR 833123-400,. Like other industries in a rapidly aging Japan, the construction business is desperate for labor. Women's Shoe Nike Air Zoom Elite 8 748589-101,Nike Kevin Durant War Boots Men Coupon_1781Women's Shoe Nike Free Focus Flyknit 844817-800,. As baby boomers retire, the labor shortage -- in construction and in the wider economy -- is bound to become more acute.

Womens Shoes Calvin Klein Celia Black Tumbled Patent 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 Juvenate Flo Print 842532-500,Nike Kobe Bryant Men Coupon_1804Women's Training Shoe Nike Metcon 1 813101-002,, 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.

Nike Free 5.0 2015 Girls Toddler Black/Vivid Pink/Pink Pow/Metallic Silver Running Shoes V29437,Nike LeBron James Men Coupon_1864Nike Free 5.0 2015 Boys Preschool Black/Dark Grey/Cool Grey/White Running Shoes V17227,, Japan is in the midst of a quiet revolution when it comes to immigrant workers. Adidas D Rose 5 Boost Boys Grade School Light Onix/Black/White Basketball Shoes V61207,Nike Kobe Bryant Men Coupon_1826Nike Air Max 90 Boys Grade School Black/Dark Grey Running Shoes V16519,.

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 Huarache Run Boys Grade School Black/Anthracite Running Shoes V12923,Men's Baseball Cleat Nike Air Huarache 2KFilth Keystone Mid 807141-017Nike Roshe One Girls Grade School Black/Pink Blast/White/Gamma Blue Running Shoes V23935,.

Womens Boots CARLOS by Carlos Santana Lever Mustang

Immigration remains a politically charged issue in Japan, Adidas D Lillard 1 Mens White/Grey/Scarlet Basketball Shoes V91799,Converse Chuck II Waterproof Thermo Unisex Boot 155331C-001Women's Training Shoe Nike Lunar Sculpt 818062-801,. "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 Energy Boost 2 Esm Mens Black/Zero Metallic/Solar Yellow Running Shoes V38680,JORDAN FLIGHT RUNNER 2 Light Green Spark/Pure Platinum/Black/WhiteAdidas Vigor Tr6 Mens Collegiate Navy/Blue/Black Running Shoes V45637,."

Womens Boots Clarks Swansea Grove Black Suede 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 X 15.1 Fg/Ag Mens Solar Yellow/Frozen Yellow/Black Soccer Shoes V78091,Men's Baseball Cleat Jordan 4 Retro Metal 807710-010Nike Air Max Turbulence Ls Mens Black/White Running Shoes V31412,. 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 Tavas Mens Cool Grey/White/Pure Platinum Running Shoes V47709,Men's Baseball Cleat Nike Trout 2 Pro 807133-010Nike Flex Fury 2 Mens University Red/Black/Total Crimson/White Running Shoes V82097,, like all other countries, does have racist problems, but hate crime and hate speech are relatively Nike Free 5.0 2015 Mens Black/White/White Running Shoes V37385,Men's Basketball Shoe Air Jordan XXXI N7 854272-003Nike Roshe One Mens Lucid Green/Vivid Sulfur/Black Running Shoes V62518,," 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 Brinkley Arney Greystone Synthetic

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

Adidas Adizero Tempo 6 Womens Vivid Berry/Metallic Silver/Glow Coral Running Shoes V84462,Men's Basketball Shoe Kobe A.D. 852425-004Adidas Vigor 6 Tr Womens Shock Mint/White/Shock Red Running Shoes V74692,, and 60% are 65 or older. Most of their children have left for the city in search of better-paying office work.

Adidas Volley Response Boost Womens Frozen Yellow/Silver Metallic/Collegiate Navy Volleyball Shoes V,Men's Basketball Shoe LeBron XIII Low 831925-051Nike Air Max 1 Womens Black/Gum Medium Brown Running Shoes V19602,, 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 Shoes Clarks Concert Band Brown Metallic Leather 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 Thea Womens University Red/Black/White Running Shoes V82249,Men's Basketball Shoe Nike HyperLive 819663-170Nike Free 4.0 Flyknit 2015 Womens Blue Grey/Sail/Voltage Green/Black Running Shoes V39487,, where the temperature can reach 40 C in summer.

Nike Roshe One Womens Black/White/Metallic Platinum Running Shoes V35113,Men's Basketball Shoe Nike Zoom HyperRev 2016 820224-101Men's Nike Magista Onda FG Total Orange/Laser Orange/Hyper Punch/Persian Violet UK#N5-9438,. He speaks basic Japanese, which he picked up watching anime series such as "One Piece" and "Detective Conan."

Men's Nike Air Max Tailwind 8 University Red/Hyper Orange/White/Black UK#N5-9084,Men's Football Cleat Nike Alpha Pro 2 3/4 TD LE 2.0 820280-140Nike Kids Jr Mercurial Victory Firm Ground Soccer Blue/Lagoon/White UK#N5-9308,," 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.

Women's Nike Air Pegasus '83 Grey Mist/Black/White UK#N5-9418,Men's Football Cleat Nike Vapor Carbon Elite 2014 TD 631425-301Women's Nike FS Lite Run 2 Blue Lagoon/White/Tide Pool Blue UK#N5-9207,.

Womens Shoes Clarks Pegg Abbie Black 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."

Creative Recreation Junior Reece Hooded Top CP416,Men's Football Cleat Nike Vapor Untouchable 698833-016Nike Infant Roshe Run Trainer CP531,.

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.

Nike Junior Air Jordan 7 'Fuchsia Flash' Retro Trainer CP660,Men's Football Cleat Nike Vapor Untouchable Pro 833385-701Creative Recreation Nursery Cesario Low Ripstop Trainer CP752,.

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

Levi's 511 Slim Jean CP897,Men's Golf Shoe Nike Lunar Control 4 819037-101Condemned Nation Trank Longline Overhead Hooded Top CP981,.

Womens Boots COACH Patricia Fatigue/Chestnut Internet company Rakuten, based in Tokyo, has been actively recruiting foreign talent. (Photo by Yasunori Okamura)

Nike Tech Fleece Hooded Top CP1113,Men's Nike Air Force 1 Low White/WhiteBellfield Ludlo Tech Jacket CP1243,. 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,Creative Recreation Davies Drop Needle Bomber Jacket CP1325,Men's Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 31 652925-802Luke 1977 Complete Showers Jacket CP1438,, 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, VMU London Wool Leather Bomber Jacket CP1551,Men's Nike Basketball ShoeKD 8 749375-610adidas Originals Premium Essentials Fleece Short CP2064,.

Womens Shoes COACH Wanda Khaki/Raw Denim 12cm Sig C/Patent 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. Publish Amadeus Short CP2198,Men's NIKE FREE 4.0 FLYKNIT 717075-302Creative Recreation Lincoln Track Top CP3543,.

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. Timberland 6 Inch Premium Boot CP3757,Men's Nike Roshe LD-1000 802022-401Hugo Boss Losti Flip Flop CP3852,, 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," adidas Originals Superstar Foundation Trainer CP3968,Men's Nike Shoe Air Max 90 Mid Winter 806808-002adidas Originals Los Angeles Trainer CP4092,.

Family ties

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

Womens Shoes COACH Richmond Swagger Hi Top Wedge Natural 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, Asics Gel-Kayano EVO Trainer CP4246,Men's Nike Basketball Shoe KD 8 749375-050Creative Recreation Cesario Low XVI Stingray Trainer CP4330,, Care Port Itabashi.  

Fred Perry Stockport Suede Trainer CP4453,Men's Running Shoe Nike Air Max 2017 849559-001Nike Air Max Thea Trainer CP4587,, 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 Chesney Bootie Greystone Leather

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 Air Max 90 Essential Trainer CP4712,Men's Running Shoe Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 32 Flash 806576-600Nike Koth Ultra Mid Trainer CP4857,.  

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, Puma Trinomic R698 Bright Trainer CP4927,Men's Running Shoe Nike Flex Fury 2 819134-404Vans Old Skool Trainer CP5099,. 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 Originals Womens Adilette Slide Sandal CP5204,MEN'S RUNNING SHOE NIKE LUNARGLIDE 7 747355-405Womens Shoes adidas Speed Trainer 2 Silver Metallic/Semi Night Flash/Frozen Green,."

Womens Shoes adidas Running Solar Boost Solar Pink/Dark Grey/White,

Subscribe to get unlimited access to all articles.

Womens Sandals Aerosoles Wip Free Natural,Men's Shoe Nike Air Zoom All Out Flyknit 844134-002Womens Sandals Aerosoles Serenwipity Black,
NAR site on phone, device, tablet

Womens Boots ALDO Dyna Black Nubuck,

Subscribe to get unlimited access to all articles.

3 months for $9

Womens Sandals ALDO Napoleone Bone,Men's Shoe Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 92 844652-004Womens Boots Anne Klein Kahlan Wide Black Multi Wide Leather,
NAR site on phone, device, tablet

Your trial period has expired

You need a subscription to...

Womens Shoes Anne Klein Ovido Brown Reptile,Men's Shoe Nike Dunk Retro QS 850477-001Womens Shoes ASICS Patriot 8 Black/Silver/Berry,

Your full access to the Nikkei Asian Review has expired

You need a subscription to:

Womens Boots C Label Binky-4 Black,Men's Shoe Nike Hyperdunk 2016 Flyknit 843390-146Womens Shoes C Label Alamo-2 Black,
Womens Sandals Calvin Klein Udela Black Leather,Men's Shoe Nike LunarCharge Essential BN 933811-070Womens Shoes Calvin Klein Nareen Black/Black/White Multi Snake,
  • Nike Derrick Rose Men Coupon_1668
  • Dc Shoes Mens Wes Kremer 2 S Shoe Men IL75603
  • Pair Pack (x2) Celestion Rocket 50 Guitar Speaker 12" 8ohm
  • Nike Big Nike Low 355152-016 Black White Leather Basketball Shoes Medium Men
  • Adidas Adipower Sport Boost Golf Shoe - Men'S - Golf - Shoes - Light Onix/Dark Silver Metallic/Bahia Blue
  • Men's/Women's Nike Air Max 90 Anti Fur Shoes Black/Royal Blue
  • Nike Air Jordan 11 Womens White Black Cyan Shoes G100y8873
  • Interactive HXW00N0564067T9998 Interactive Shoes For Women
  • UK - Converse All Star Gray Black White Canvas Sneakers Womens Size 10 Mens Size 8 H3v7412
  • Salomon Speedcross Vario Gore-Tex Women's Trail Running Shoes - SS17 B01N144YL1
  • 2017 Nike Official Women's Nike Air Max Tailwind 7 Black/Fuchsia Flash/Fuchsia Glow/Flash Lime Shoes Canada SHS7904074
  • Genuine Cheap Nike KD 5 Elite Team Orange True Yellow-Total Orange-Photo Blue 585386-800
  • 2017 Nike All Black Shoes Men's Nike Free Trainer 5.0 V6 Amp (Oregon) White/Metallic Silver/Volt/Black Shoes Canada UHP5703785
  • Cheap Air Jordans 4 Black Yellow
  • Nike Mens Shoes / Team Orange Wolf Grey Dark Grey Total Orange Shoes Nike Air Pegasus '89 EE42T61h1
  • Men's - Creative Recreation Cesario White Rainbow Shoes
  • Adidasi Training Under Armour Commit Barbati Negrii (466888GFL)
  • Men's Nike Hypervenom Phelon II IC Green Strike/Black
  • Nike Air Odyssey LTR Black Dark Grey Volt (684773-003)
  • Adidas Mens Shoes / White Forest Metallic Silver Boys Shoes Adidas Falcon Trainer 3 DR55O5614
  • Men's Shoe Nike Presto Fly 908019-003