Clearance Sale For Mens Salomon Crossamphibian Swift Neutral Running Shoes Black 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

Salt & Pepper Baby Girls' Nb Jumpsuit Love Snowsuit B01F5451F4,Fashion Mens Timberland Bradstreet Lace-Up Boots Black,Superfit Marley Girls’ Hi-Top Slippers B06Y2KGD4Q,. 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, Uglyfrog #39 Bicycle Wear Cycling Jersey Long Sleeve Men's Bicycle Spring Triathlon Top B074K2ZP61,Genuine Mens CMP Rigel Wp Walking Shoes Black,Wrangler Men's Cowboy Cut Original Fit Jean B001AE4E2A,.

"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, Levi's Canvas Men shoes - COREY CANVAS II,Genuine Mens YOURTURN High-Top Trainers Black,Levi's Marcy Hombre US 9.5 Blanco Zapatillas Mancha 8267,, 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. Levi's Shoes Men's 9.5 M Ethan Cacti Navy - Blue,Get Discount Mens adidas Originals Gazelle Trainers Shoes Mint,Levis Benson In Black And Brown/tan Shoes Men Size 11 M Driving Heel - Charcoal Black/ Tan,. Like other industries in a rapidly aging Japan, the construction business is desperate for labor. Men Levi's Shoes Chandler Hi Casual Canvas 516729-40A Black Brown 100% Authentic - Black,Good Quality For Mens Melvin & Hamilton Clark 6 Lace-Ups Shoes Brown,Nike Dunk Low Premium SB LEVI'S BLUE DENIM Sz 6-13 DARK OBSIDIAN 573901-447 - Blue,. As baby boomers retire, the labor shortage -- in construction and in the wider economy -- is bound to become more acute.

Skechers Sport Women's Flex Appeal 2.0 Insights Fashion Sneaker Black/Black 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 SB Blazer Low GT Men Red,High Quality For Mens Diesel S-Tunnyngs High-Top Trainers Beige,Nike Roshe Daybreak NM Men Orange,, 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.

New Balance 996V2 Gray/Green(Men) Model 41689,High Quality For Mens Salomon X Alp Walking Shoes Red,Nike Zoom Elite 6 Pimento/Team Orange/Reflective Silver(Men) Model 40041,, Japan is in the midst of a quiet revolution when it comes to immigrant workers. Mizuno Wave Kazan Chinese Red/Dude Blue/Spectra Yellow(Men) Model 80945,Latest Mens adidas Performance Pureboost Neutral Running Shoes Grey,Asics Gt-2000 3 Hot Orange/Silver/Black(Men) Model 70223,.

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, Mens Training Shoes Adidas Originals ZX 700 White Blue Navy,Latest Mens Onitsuka Tiger Mexico 66 Trainers Shoes Grey,Air Jordan 3 5Lab3 Basketball Shoes Reflective Silver Black White,.

Womens Adidas Running Shoes - Ultra Boost - Black/Grey Item W0040

Immigration remains a politically charged issue in Japan, New Balance NB M999RF x Ronnie Fieg Mens Leather Shoes Steel Blue Grey Black White,Latest of 2018 Mens Marc Jacobs Trainers White,Nike Air Max 90 Lunar C3.0 White Dark Grey Black Blue Volt Mens Training 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. "Nike Air Max 90 Independence Day Pack Blue Unisex Mesh Training Shoes,Limited Mens Merrell Waterpro Maipo Hiking Shoes Black,Adidas Men D Rose 773 III - Black/White/Black,."

Womens ASICS Training Shoes - GEL-Acclaim - Silver/Blue Grotto Item W0316 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 Boys Grade School Top Ten - Black/Black/Black,Luxury Mens adidas Performance X Tango 16.1 In Indoor Football Boots Blue,adidas Originals Men Tubular Runner - Collegiate Navy/Collegiate Navy/White,. 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 Men Air Max Full Ride Tr - Black/White/Voltage Green/Anthracite,New Arrivals Mens Nike Performance Mercurialx Proximo Ii Ic Indoor Football Boots Grey,Nike Men Flex Experience Rn 4 Premium - Black/Racer Blue/White,, like all other countries, does have racist problems, but hate crime and hate speech are relatively Nike Men Reax Lightspeed - Black/Electric Green/Wolf Grey,New Arrivals of Mens Pier One Trainers Dark Blue,2016 Nike LeBron 13 Low ‘Cavs’ Team Red/Sail-Black For Sale,," 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.

Ladies 100% Harris Tweed Tote Bag 10 Colours Available New LB1008 B01N2T7SA2

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

2017 Nike KD 9 Elite,New Style of 2018 Mens Jack & Jones Jfwarton Trainers Shoes Grey,2018 Air Jordan 13 ‘Hyper Royal’ White/Hyper Royal-Black For Sale,, and 60% are 65 or older. Most of their children have left for the city in search of better-paying office work.

Air Jordan 10 OVO Black/Metallic Gold-Black,Newest Mens Hilfiger Denim Trainers Dark Blue,Air Jordan 31 PE Black Volt 2016 Release,, 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.

Adidas Court Attitude - Grey/ Blast Purple 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, Air Jordan XXXI ‘Royal’ Black/Game Royal/White 2016 Release,Official Sale60% Off Mens Dockers by Gerli Trainers Grey,Cheap Air Jordans 2012 New Style White Black Blue Shoes,, where the temperature can reach 40 C in summer.

Jordan Jumpman Pro ‘Bred’ Black/Varsity Red-White 2017 Retro,Official Sale60% Off Mens Wrangler Sunset Trainers Shoes Blue,New Carmelo Anthony Jordan White Cement Black Blue Shoes,. He speaks basic Japanese, which he picked up watching anime series such as "One Piece" and "Detective Conan."

Nike Air Jordan XII 12 White Grey-Black/ white 2017 Release,Original Mens Dockers by Gerli Trainers Khaki,Nike LeBron 15 Black Ice/Metallic Gold For Sale,," 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.

Wholesale & Wholesale Priced Girls Air Jordan 26 White Black Pink 83688-516 Sneakers,Original Mens Zign Casual Lace-Ups Black,Vibram Furoshiki Walking-Yoga-Fitness Shoe Blue Flower,.

Adidas Crazy Strike - Black/ White/ Black 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."

adidas NMD_R1 (red),Provide Mens Redskins Norani Trainers Shoes Dark Blue,Nike Air Presto Essential (black),.

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.

adidas UltraBOOST Uncaged (black / white),Purchase Mens ecco Soft Trainers Shoes Blue,Nike Air Huarache Run SE (beige),.

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

adidas New York (purple / grey),Purchase Mens Merrell Moab Mid Gtx Walking Boots Grey,adidas Tubular Entrap W Primeknit (black / white),.

Adidas Pro Conference Hi - Black/ Red/ White Internet company Rakuten, based in Tokyo, has been actively recruiting foreign talent. (Photo by Yasunori Okamura)

Nike WMNS Pre Montreal Racer Vintage PRM (brown,Purchase Mens Veja Esplar Trainers Shoes Off-White,Nike WMNS Air Huarache Run Ultra BR (white / white),. 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,Mens ASICS Court Shoes - GEL-Solution Speed 2 - Onyx/Silver Item M0096,Retail Mens Converse Zakim Trainers Shoes Bordeaux,Mens ASICS Wrestling Shoes - Aggressor 2 - Dusty Blue/Silver Item M0328,, 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, Mens Merrell Hiking Shoes - Moab Mid Waterproof - Olive Item M0560,Retail Mens Wood Wood Quinn Slip-Ons Shoes Black,Mens New Balance Running Shoes - Vazee Rush - Grey/Orange Item M0847,.

Adidas Streetball - White/ Yellow/ 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. Mens Nike Training Shoes - Lunar Caldra - Silver/Volt Item M1063,Select 100% Authentic Mens Wrangler Trainers Grey,Mens Saucony Running Shoes - Triumph ISO 2 - Grey/White Item M1266,.

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. Mens Under Armour Running Shoes - Speedform Fortis - Steel/Black Item M1452,Select Low Price Mens Puma Carson Sports Shoes Red,Womens Nike Air Max 87 White Pink Running Shoe For Cheap,, 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," Womens Nike Air Max Breathable Black Blue Shoe Loved Around,Shop the Fashionable Mens Jack & Jones Jfwmervin Trainers Shoes Gold,Womens Nike Air Revolu Hi Grey Orange Shoe Happy Shopping,.

Family ties

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

New Balance Fresh Foam Zante - Black/ Blue 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, Womens Nike Free Powerlines Ii Blue Rose Shoe Loved Around,Top Quality Mens Merrell Moab Gtx Walking Shoes Grey,Womens Nike Zoom Kd Vi Rose Red Blue Shoe Loved By Everyone,, Care Port Itabashi.  

Converse Chuck Taylor All Star Craft Sl Women White,Wholesale Mens Mustang Trainers Grey,2016 Aug adidas Running Cosmic Women's Training Running Shoes AQ2179,, 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. 

Nike Hyperdunk 2013 - Tropical Teal

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. New Women's Adidas Cosmic Boost Running Shoe Yellow and Pink Size 10.5,Nike Air Max Invigor Men Black,Big Handbag Shop Womens Top Zip Opening 3 in 1 Tote Shopper Bag with Medium Long Strap and Make up Bag B009SLPFOS,.  

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, ExOfficio Women's Bugs Away Breeze Ls Blouse B011D2DAIW,Converse Chuck Taylor All Star Hi Men Black,JENNIE LIU Women's 100% Cashmere Navy Crew Neck Sweater B0172OYAMA,. 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," Propet Women's Billie Oxford B01CYSMI96,Nike Kwazi Men Blue,Windbreaker Women Horsefeathers Adore Windbreaker B0198I5HM0,."

Nike Air Max 1 Ultra Essential Women White,

Subscribe to get unlimited access to all articles.

Nike Roshe Cortez NM Women Blue,Big Star Men's Algen_Zip_Hood_Sweat Sports Hoodie B01CJOABKI,Adidas Barricade Team 4 White/Solar Red(Women) Model 76623,
NAR site on phone, device, tablet

Adidas Adizero Tempo 7 Boost Black/Flash Pink(Women) Model 56146,

Subscribe to get unlimited access to all articles.

3 months for $9

Reebok Touchlite Bodycombat Black/Solar Pink/White(Women) Model 36902,Champion Men`s Tech Fleece Pullover Hoodie B01HIUSLFA,Adidas Climachill Ride Orange Womens Mesh Shoes For Running,
NAR site on phone, device, tablet

Your trial period has expired

You need a subscription to...

Nike Air Max 90 Tape Mens & Womens Camo Grey Black Red White Chic Trainers,Criminal Damage Hammer Trousers (Black/Red) B0037XPPRU,Adidas Women adiZero Boston 5 TSF - Mineral Red/Shock Pink/Bold Onix,

Your full access to the Nikkei Asian Review has expired

You need a subscription to:

Nike Women Air Huarache Run Ultra Br - Black,Dunlop unisex purofort thermo+ safety wellington boot B00HU5H4F2,Nike Women Lunar Lux Tr - Black/White/Pink Blast/Cool Grey,
New Balance Women's 590 Speed Ride Trail Running Shoes Black/Pink,Geox B Each Girl a Baby Girls’ First shoes - sneakers B00WK3489O,Merrell Women's Adhera Strap Backstrap Sandals Black,
  • Shopping 179456 Nike Dunk High Women Canvas Shoes
  • Nike Zoom KD VI Meteorology Basketball Shoes 3128494
  • Cool Grey/Dust Gray/White Nike trainers new collection Hyperdunk 2016 Low "Wolf Grey" Nike trainers
  • Nike Air Max 2014 Men High Shoes Men Black Green /Nike Jordan [ N2933]
  • Men's - Running - New Balance Fresh Foam Boracay 3 - Shoes - Black White 7TV9680
  • adidas Originals Stan Smith Winter Men Grey
  • Official GIUSEPPE ZANOTTI DESIGN 130Mm Nappa Leather - Red women's Sandals - 55BC432
  • Asics Gel
  • Mens Nike Air Penny Hardaway 5 V Black White Shoe Clearance Sale
  • Womens Nike Dunk Sb High Cut Star Light Pink Black White Shoe Fast Delivery
  • Pointer Womens Soma II (mysterioso)
  • Nike Air Jordan 13 Carmelo Anthony Womens Shoes White Blue Yellow
  • 2018 Low prices - Puma Pulse XT Knit Women Training Shoes Clearwater-Sulphur
  • Adidas Originals Bargain Superstar Men Black (S41823)
  • Nike Vapor Carbon Elite 2014 Men's Lacrosse Cleat Shoes White/Metallic Silver
  • Men's - Nike Air Max LeBron 9 Low Team Red / Wolf Grey-Chilling Red-Light Orange Shoes
  • Alternative Eco Black Eco Jersey Drape Maxic GIH876859
  • Men's Nike Air Force 1 Flyknit Low Black/Bright Crimson/Court Purple/Black
  • Nike Futura Print 611975-412 University Blue/Dark Grey Heather/Volt
  • Converse Shoes Sale Sumner Ox black/navy CO 3437