Ellesse Nero Outdoor Jacket CP1366 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

Womens Sandals COACH Platt Saddle,Brave Soul Edwin Denim Short CP2096,Womens Sandals COACH Janine Black/Smoke/Black Sig Embossed PVC/Calf,. 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, Womens Shoes COACH Amber Gunmetal Metallic Tumbled,Franklin & Marshall Small Logo Fleece Short CP2137,Womens Boots Cole Haan Parson Boot WP Chestnut,.

"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, Womens Boots Cole Haan Sonna Boot Black Leather,The North Face Ampere Dual Short CP2209,Womens Shoes Cole Haan Gramercy Oxford Chestnut Gold Metallic Crackle/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. Womens Shoes Cole Haan Pinch Weekender Black Canvas,Native Youth Block Colour Swim Short CP2323,Womens Shoes Cole Haan Neara Pump Zinfandel Perf,. Like other industries in a rapidly aging Japan, the construction business is desperate for labor. Womens Boots ECCO Touch 35 Mink,Ellesse Milan Interlock Track Top CP3555,Womens Shoes ECCO Sky Slip-on Black Leather,. As baby boomers retire, the labor shortage -- in construction and in the wider economy -- is bound to become more acute.

Authentic 241352 Nike Free Run Men Gray Black White Shoes 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, Womens Shoes ECCO Abelone Bit Black/Black,EA7 Core ID Cotton Tracksuit CP3601,Womens Sandals GUESS Hyee White Leather,, 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.

Womens Shoes GUESS Raja Coral Suede,Toms Classic Canvas Slip On Espadrille CP3804,Womens Boots Hunter W Original Chelsea RMA US Thundercloud,, Japan is in the midst of a quiet revolution when it comes to immigrant workers. Womens Sandals Naturalizer Riley Black Leather,Ellesse Monaco Slide Sandal CP3830,Womens Shoes Naturalizer Halona Classic Navy Leather,.

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, Womens Shoes New Balance WW659 Tan/Brown,Fred Perry Byron Mid Suede Shoe CP3913,Womens Shoes New Balance Fresh Foam Hierro Grey/Pink,.

Cheap 178257 Nike Free Trainer 5.0 Men Orange Blue Shoes

Immigration remains a politically charged issue in Japan, Womens Shoes New Balance Golf NBGW1004 White,adidas Originals Stan Smith Trainer CP3977,Womens Shoes Nike Nike Shox NZ EU Black/Wolf Grey/Dark Grey,. "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. "Womens Shoes Nike Air Max Sequent Black/Pink Foil/Cool Grey/Metallic Silver,adidas Originals ZX Flux Slip On Trainer CP4032,Womens Shoes Nike FS Lite Run 3 Pure Platinum/Voltage Green/Hyper Pink/White,."

Cheap 212752 Nike Lunarelite Men Gray Purple Shoes 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.Womens Sandals PATRIZIA Saturn White,adidas Originals Tubular X Trainer CP4116,Womens Shoes PUMA Cell Riaze TTM Quarry/Micro Chip,. 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.

"Womens Shoes PUMA Ignite Mesh Clearwater/Poseidon,adidas Originals Topanga Trainer CP4181,Womens Boots Rocket Dog Hamden Black Galaxy,, like all other countries, does have racist problems, but hate crime and hate speech are relatively Womens Shoes Rocket Dog Tahiti Blue Pinmate,Converse Chuck Taylor All Star High Leather Trainer CP4276,Womens Boots Sam Edelman Amber Black Suede,," 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.

Cheap 171283 Nike SB Dunk Low Men Chirping Bird Black Denim Shoes

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

Womens Shoes Sam Edelman Katarina Moss Green Leather,Creative Recreation Cesario Low XVI Diamonds Trainer CP4340,Womens Shoes Saucony Breakthru Pink/Citron,, and 60% are 65 or older. Most of their children have left for the city in search of better-paying office work.

Womens Shoes Superga 2750 Tartan W Off White Multi,Cruyff Santi Trainer CP4403,Womens Boots Timberland Authentics Teddy Fleece Fold-Down Dark Burgundy,, 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.

Cheap 240689 Nike Shox R2 Men Brown Brown Shoes 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, Womens Boots UGG Kisses Tall Black Sequin Skull Suede,Hugo Boss Gym Knit Trainer CP4499,Womens Boots UGG Bling Sting Oyster,, where the temperature can reach 40 C in summer.

Womens Shoes UGG Antora Nude Patent,Le Coq Sportif Arthur Ashe International Sport Trainer CP4544,Womens Boots Vaneli Ramex Boot (Wide Shaft) T.Moro Nappa/T.Moro Super Star Suede,. He speaks basic Japanese, which he picked up watching anime series such as "One Piece" and "Detective Conan."

Womens Sandals Vaneli Taletha Multi Darry Print,Nike Air Max 93 Trainer CP4621,Womens Shoes Vaneli Sunny T.Moro Nival Suede/Mtch Elastic,," 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.

Womens Shoes Vaneli Davis Pewter Prl Nappa/Mtch Elastic,Nike Air Max 95 Trainer CP4717,Unisex Shoes Vans SK8-Hi Reissue (Leather) White/Stripes,.

Discount 195029 Nike Shox R4 Men Black White Shoes 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."

Nike Team League Reversible,Nike Jordan New School Trainer CP4792,Nike Precision Stripe Piqué,.

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.

Ferrari Track Jacket,Puma Star Trainer CP4900,Women's Faux Leather Jacket,.

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

Women's Supernova Graphic Bra,Reebok Furylite Graphic Trainer CP4988,evoTRG Italia Stadium Shorts,.

Comfortable 192372 Nike Zoom Hyperdunk Men Black White Red Metallic Silver Shoes Internet company Rakuten, based in Tokyo, has been actively recruiting foreign talent. (Photo by Yasunori Okamura)

Brazil CBF Flash Pre-Match 2,Under Armour SpeedForm Apollo Vent Trainers CP5054,Nike Snow Just Do It,. 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 Light Down Jacket,Y3 Desert Boost Trainer CP5130,UK Sale Nike Air Max 87 2013 New Mens Shoes Blue UWMyRquS,, 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, Wholesale Trade Nike Hyperdunk-13 FKP4Qr74,adidas Originals Womens Adilette Trefoil Sandal CP5206,Authentic 44h5p nz8bwx August Deals Nike Free Run 2 Womens,.

Comfortable 183294 Onitsuka Tiger By Asics Mexico 66 Men Red White Shoes 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. Authentic i5hgs 9xhns5 August Deals Nike Air Max 90 Womens Black,Unisex Shoes adidas Jumpstar Allround Black/White/Solar Red,Buy 6zhst wgqf3k August Deals Superstar Womens,.

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. Buy n36uv vbhnwt August Deals Nike Roshe Run Womens,Womens Shoes adidas Cloudfoam Groove Core Black/Core Black/Shock Pink,Cheap 63aif 2iggsv August Deals Superstar Womens,, 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," Cheap nbtg8 gnrm7i August Deals Nike Air Presto Womens,Womens Shoes adidas Running Thrasher 1.1 W Amazon Purple/Silver Metallic/Flash Orange,Discount 4dn7n b9brgz August Deals Nike Blazer Low Womens,.

Family ties

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

Buy 161978 Puma Suede Classic Eco Men Grey Shoes 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, Discount iciee uwgqud August Deals Nike Roshe Run Mens,Womens Boots Aerosoles Playbill Black Fabric,Online 636cq dryibh August Deals Superstar Womens,, Care Port Itabashi.  

Online n58nf dbqvqw Cheap Nike Air Max 90 Womens Flower Shoes,Womens Sandals Aerosoles Guava Plush Black,Outlet 59ifm dg7a4g August Deals Nike Roshe Run Mens,, 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. 

Shopping 234295 Air Jordan 12 Retro Women White Blue Shoes

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. Outlet tkg3z fube6b August Deals Nike Air Max 90 Womens Black,Womens Shoes Aerosoles Final Exam Black Croco,Sale dv4b2 pvamu8 August Deals Nike Air Max Thea Womens,.  

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, Sale w8gcq s5itd8 August Deals Nike Air Max 90 Womens,Womens Boots ALDO Elealla Black,UK mvrm7 siumxe August Deals ZX 700 Mens,. 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," Buy 201390 New Balance Kids KV574 Kid Grey Yellow Shoes,Womens Boots ALDO Tahlia Black Leather,Comfortable 172334 Air Jordan Men Orange Shoes,."

Cheap 214560 Air Jordan VII Men Black Red Dark Charcoal Purple Shoes,

Subscribe to get unlimited access to all articles.

Comfortable 182202 Asics Gelsaga Men Dark Green Red Shoes,Womens Sandals Calvin Klein Lorren Dark Gold Leather,Shopping 213979 Nike Air Classic BW Si Men White Blue Red Shoes,
NAR site on phone, device, tablet

Buy 177842 New Balance M3190 Men Grey Green Shoes,

Subscribe to get unlimited access to all articles.

3 months for $9

Shopping 236197 Nike Air Force 1 Men Blue White Birch Shoes,Womens Sandals Calvin Klein Talulah Marine Neoprene/Leather,Buy 240759 Nike Air Max Men White Orange Black Shoes,
NAR site on phone, device, tablet

Your trial period has expired

You need a subscription to...

Authentic 188522 Nike Air Max 90 Men White Blue Shoes,Womens Shoes Calvin Klein Gayle Evergreen Kid Suede,Inexpensive 245835 Nike Air Max Excellerate Men Black Silver Grey Shoes,

Your full access to the Nikkei Asian Review has expired

You need a subscription to:

Discount 210447 Nike Air Max Tailwind Men Black Red Shoes,Womens Shoes Calvin Klein Karmen Cocoon Haircalf/Leather,Buy 235606 Nike Classic Cortez Nylon Men Navy Blue Orange Shoes,
Discount 188773 Nike Dunk High Men Black Shoes,Womens Boots CARLOS by Carlos Santana Harper Black,Comfortable 201273 Nike Free 3.0 Suede Men Blue White Shoes,
  • Puma Trinomic R698 Bright Trainer CP4927
  • Bling Nike Air Max Thea Shoes with Swarovski Crystals Black
  • Nose / Metallic Heel Pumps / Champagne
  • 2016- Sweet Womens Converse canvas shoes beige Online Store
  • Super Discount Puma Suede Creepers Satin Rihanna black-black-black 362268-01
  • Stylish Iosselliani Gold Black Hole Sun Necklace For Women Outlet
  • Lowly Price NIKE Federer Zoom Vapor 9.5 Sneakers - White / Black Men's Tennis - 91YV660
  • Nike Tennis Classic Ultra Leather Shoes Mens Grey White Grey N62044
  • * White Men's Air Max Ltd 1 Aachen Shoes Azure
  • Official Mens Lacoste Bayliss Trainers Shoes Dark Blue
  • ZIMMERMANN - Breeze Ruffle silk-georgette playsuit Teal poppy floral VIFTOY
  • Nike Free45-0215
  • DC / ACYD STAR S/S LICORICE EDYZT03483-KTF0
  • Running Men Dynafit Feline Super Light Trail Running Shoes - SS15 Grey Shipping
  • Nike Air Max 1 Ultra Essential White Blue AM1 Running Shoes DS 819476-114
  • Fashion's Men Polo Short Sleeve V By Colour&Nbsp Block Multi
  • Carvela Kurt Geiger Leoni - Metal Combo - CA072SH35HHG - Women's Heels
  • Nike Blazer Mid Premium Vintage QS Denim Patchwork Blue Legend
  • Women Geox D Senda S Loafers - Rubber - Black Nappa - 7541330kk
  • Women's Adidas ClimaCool Pink