Comfortable 180025 Nike Air Max Tailwind Men Grey Green 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

Adidas Originals JS Men Coupon_141,Cheap 177138 Nike Zoom Hyperfuse Tb Men Yellow Purple ShoesAdidas Porsche Design S3 Men Coupon_193,. 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, Adidas Porsche Typ 64 Men Coupon_218,Buy 185676 Nike Zoom Hyperfuse Low Men Light Blue Orange ShoesAdidas Originals JS Women Coupon_319,.

"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, Asics Mini BMW Men Coupon_367,Comfortable 228399 Nike Shox Rivalry Men Black Pink ShoesChristian Louboutin Sale Men Coupon_420,, 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. Christian Louboutin Sale Women Coupon_493,Cheap 208450 Nike Zoom Hyperdunk Low Men Black White Lucky Green ShoesChristian Louboutin Sale Women Coupon_571,. Like other industries in a rapidly aging Japan, the construction business is desperate for labor. Giuseppe Zanotti Sale Women Coupon_660,Buy 207906 Nike Shox Rivalry Men White Black ShoesJimmy Choo Bridal Women Coupon_755,. As baby boomers retire, the labor shortage -- in construction and in the wider economy -- is bound to become more acute.

Nike Tech Fleece N98 Jacket CP3580 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, Jimmy Choo heels Women Coupon_770,Inexpensive 157217 Nike Zoom Hyperfuse Tb Men Black Green ShoesJimmy Choo Sandals Women Coupon_862,, 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.

Jimmy Choo Wedges Women Coupon_948,Comfortable 175664 Nike Zoom Hyperfuse Xdr Men Orange Royal Blue ShoesNew Balance Men Coupon_1024,, Japan is in the midst of a quiet revolution when it comes to immigrant workers. New Balance 373 Men Coupon_1098,Cheap 214352 Nike Zoom Hyperfuse Xdr Men Blue Black Red ShoesNew Balance 574 Men Coupon_1153,.

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, New Balance 574 Men Coupon_1218,Comfortable 192372 Nike Zoom Hyperdunk Men Black White Red Metallic Silver ShoesNew Balance 891 Men Coupon_1303,.

Nike Benassi Solar Slide 2 Sandal CP3858

Immigration remains a politically charged issue in Japan, New Balance Women Coupon_1352,Shopping 241000 Nike Zoom Kobe IV Men White Red Purple ShoesNew Balance 574 Women Coupon_1489,. "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. "New Balance 574 Women Coupon_1490,Buy 151104 Nike Shox R4 Men Grey Purple ShoesNike Derrick Rose Men Coupon_1620,."

adidas Originals ZX Flux Slip On Trainer CP3997 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.Nike Kevin Durant Men Coupon_1725,Inexpensive 245908 Nike Zoom Kobe V Men Royal White Royal White Metallic Silver ShoesNike Kevin Durant War Boots Men Coupon_1761,. 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.

"Men's Baseball Shoe Nike Lunar Trout 2 Turf 807122-138,Discount 219770 Nike Zoom Kobe V Men Ink Metallic Silver Black Ice ShoesMen's Basketball Shoe Nike Air Max Audacity 2016 843884-005,, like all other countries, does have racist problems, but hate crime and hate speech are relatively Men's Firm-Ground Soccer Cleat Nike Mercurial Veloce II Leather FG 768808-001,Cheap 214783 Nike Zoom Kobe VI Men White Purple ShoesMen's Nike Air Max 90 Ultra BR Shoe 725222-404,," 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.

adidas Originals Gazelle OG Trainer CP4118

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

MEN'S NIKE FREE TRAINER 3.0 V4 749361-007,Comfortable 189697 Nike Zoom Kobe VI Men Black Blue White ShoesMen's Nike Shoe Jordan CP3.IX AE 833909-303,, and 60% are 65 or older. Most of their children have left for the city in search of better-paying office work.

Men's Running Shoe Nike Air Max Tailwind 8 805941-002,Inexpensive 230173 Nike Zoom Kobe VIi Men Cheetah Purple Red ShoesMen's Running Shoe Nike LunarEpic Flyknit 818676-007,, 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 Fulton Mix Quilted Leather QS Trainer CP4308 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, Men's Shoe Air Jordan 7 Retro 304775-123,Inexpensive 233136 Nike Zoom Kobe VI Men Black Blue ShoesMen's Shoe Nike Air Berwuda 555305-006,, where the temperature can reach 40 C in summer.

MEN'S SHOE NIKE AIR MAX 95 ULTRA JACQUARD 749771-401,Buy 185578 Nike Zoom Kobe VIII Basketball Men Grey Royal Purple ShoesMen's Shoe Nike Air Huarache Ultra SE 875841-001,. He speaks basic Japanese, which he picked up watching anime series such as "One Piece" and "Detective Conan."

Men's Shoe Nike Free RN CMTR 831510-001,Shopping 163663 Nike Zoom Kobe VIII Basketball Men Black Purple ShoesMen's Shoe Nike Air Huarache Utility 806979-006,," 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.

Men's Shoe Nike Roshe One Hyperfuse 636220-005,Shopping 209395 Onitsuka Tiger By Asics Machu Racer Men Red White ShoesMen's Shoe NikeCourt Air Zoom Ultra 845007-006,.

Fred Perry Spencer Mesh Trainer CP4456 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."

Men's Training Shoe Nike Lunar Caldra 803879-001,Inexpensive 214810 Onitsuka Tiger By Asics Mexico 66 Men Navy Blue White ShoesNIKE AIR MAX 1 ULTRA MOIRE Game 704995-302,.

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 AIR ZOOM PEGASUS 31 Hot Lava/White/Antarctica/Black,Buy 159042 Puma By Miharayasuhiro Tennis Men Black Grey Silver ShoesNIKE FREE 5.0 Fuchsia Flash/Fuchsia Glow/Clearwater,.

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

NIKE LUNARTEMPO Total Orange/White/Black/Lyon Blue,Buy 173674 Puma Lifestyle Low Men Grey Blue ShoesNIKELAB X SACAI AIR MAX 90 White/Wolf Grey/Volt/White,.

Nike LeBron XI Low Trainer CP4576 Internet company Rakuten, based in Tokyo, has been actively recruiting foreign talent. (Photo by Yasunori Okamura)

Women's Shoe Nike Air Max 1 Ultra Premium Jacquard 861656-001,Shopping 181330 Puma Fluxion II Men White Black ShoesWomen's Shoe Nike Air Zoom Vomero 11 818100-405,. 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,Women's Shoe Nike Metcon 2 821913-100,Authentic 240257 Adidas Originals Rayado Unisex Black White Grey ShoesNike Roshe One Girls Toddler Hyper Pink Running Shoes V59059,, 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, Adidas D Lillard 1.0 Boys Grade School Power Red/Black/White Basketball Shoes V69292,Inexpensive 217088 Nike Zoom Hyperfuse Xdr Men White Green ShoesNike Cortez Boys Grade School Black/White/Leather Running Shoes V34926,.

Nike Roshe NM 'Fleece Pack' Trainer CP4736 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. Nike Air Max Sequent Girls Grade School Wolf Grey/Reflect Silver/Hyper Pink Running Shoes V98966,Shopping 219165 Adidas ZX 700 Unisex White Light Blue Yellow ShoesAdidas D Lillard 1 Mens Solar Red/Black Basketball Shoes V77691,.

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. Adidas Wall 2 Mens Solar Orange/Black/White Basketball Shoes V77200,Comfortable 167497 Nike Air Max Unisex Turquoise Blue Black ShoesAdidas Supernova Sequence 8 Mens Onix/Silver Metallic/Solar Red Running Shoes V67795,, 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 Adizero Ubersonic Mens White/Collegiate Navy/Blue Tennis Shoes V90415,Discount 170356 Nike Zoom Kobe V Men White Red Black ShoesNike Air Max 90 Mid Winter Mens Anthracite/Black/Challenge Red/Tumbled Grey Running Shoes V10730,.

Family ties

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

Nike P Rod 8 Trainer CP4594 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 Flyknit Lunar 3 Mens Photo Blue/Concord/White/Black Running Shoes V68158,Cheap 180600 Air Jordan 3 Retro Unisex Dark Powder Blue/Black Grey White ShoesNike Lunarestoa 2 Mens Black Running Shoes V12577,, Care Port Itabashi.  

Adidas Eezay Dots Womens Solid Grey/Clear Green/Sun Glow Flip Flops V78725,Cheap 155599 Adidas Originals ZX 700 Women Grey Black ShoesAdidas Supernova Sequence Boost 7 Womens Flash Pink/White/Night Flash Running Shoes V53802,, 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. 

Vans Authentic Trainer CP5059

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 Siren Womens Black/Anthracite Running Shoes V13171,Discount 213150 New Balance Mw659 Unisex Black ShoesAdidas Energy Boost 2 Esm Womens Midnight Grey/White/Frozen Green Running Shoes V64398,.  

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 Rn Flyknit Womens White/Blue Glow/Hyper Punch/Black Running Shoes V89538,Cheap 187770 Air Jordan 1 Retro Women Black Pink Orange Florida ShoesMen's Nike MVP Keystone 3/4 Black/White UK#N5-9581,. 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," Men's Nike Flex Fury Cool Blue/University Blue/Game Royal/Black UK#N5-9364,Shopping 147175 Air Jordan VII Retro Women White Red Blue ShoesNike Kids Flex Experience 4 Print Prism Pink/Fuchsia Glow/Pink Foil/Tide Pool Blue UK#N5-9505,."

Women's Nike Cheer Compete White/White/Pure Platinum UK#N5-9470,

Subscribe to get unlimited access to all articles.

Mr Lacy Smallies Laces CP359,Buy 221764 Nike Air Max 90 Women Black Red ShoesNike Infant Air Force 1 Low Trainer CP530,
NAR site on phone, device, tablet

Converse Infant Chuck Taylor All Star High Rubber Trainer CP493,

Subscribe to get unlimited access to all articles.

3 months for $9

Asylum Spray On Jean CP820,Cheap 239163 Nike Air Max Women Black Blue ShoesWomen's Nike Nike Shox NZ EU Black/Wolf Grey/Dark Grey UK#N5-9291,
NAR site on phone, device, tablet

Your trial period has expired

You need a subscription to...

Nike Tech Fleece AW77 Hooded Top CP1124,Cheap 180120 Nike Classic Cortez Nylon Women Fluorescent Green Red ShoesBrave Soul MJK Juke Hooded Bomber Jacket CP1260,

Your full access to the Nikkei Asian Review has expired

You need a subscription to:

Glorious Gangsta MYA BomberJacket CP1390,Comfortable 213902 Nike Air Max 90 Hypefuse Women White ShoesThe North Face Quest Insulated Hooded Jacket CP1527,
adidas Originals Jogger Cargo Short CP2068,Discount 228265 Nike Dunk High Women Flower Pink Red ShoesAsylum Gnarly Swim Short CP2285,
  • Buy 199151 Nike Supreme Dunk High Men Blue Shoes
  • Nike Air Jordan Hydro 2 Slide White/Royal Blue Sneakers 3126552
  • Fashion Brands Adidas Adizero 99G 2Generation FG Soccer Boots White Orange A72i1946
  • Air Jordan 6 Men Shoes Black Green /Nike Jordan [ N4650]
  • Men's - Black Black 7RM5756 - Shoes - Nike Air Max 2017 - Running Black
  • Nike Mens Track And Field White
  • Nike Shox Turbo + 13 XIIIs Black Silver Shoes
  • Nike Wmns Air Huarache Light Prm Black
  • Mens Nike Air Jordan I 1 Retro White Red Black Shoe Just Buy It
  • Mens Merrell Trianers - Freewheel Lace - Goose Item M0736
  • Bearpaw Women Rosie Boot (black)
  • NZ Nike SolarSoft Thong Flip Flops Womens White/Red 276852EI
  • Shop Nike Air Zoom Fly 2Ladies Running Shoes Womens Black/White 719299VX
  • UK Class quality - Puma Pulse XT Knit Men Training Shoes Black-White
  • Onitsuka Tiger Mens Shoes / Light Grey Burgundy Shoes Onitsuka Tiger Mexico 66 GY15O90k1r
  • Men's - Nike Inspire Dual Fusion White / White-Metallic Dark Grey-Black Shoes
  • Asos White The Strappy Rib Camiz IAE687153
  • Nike Shox TL3 Men White Gray Shoes
  • NFL San Francisco 49ers Game Jersey (Aldon Smith) 468966-692 Gym Red
  • Recommended Nike Zoom All Out Low 2 II Wolf Grey Black Men Running Shoes cheaps Sneakers get AJ0035-005
  • Buy 154789 Nike Free 3.0 V4 Women Gray Shoes