Havaianas Top Mix Flip Flop CP3847 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 Clarks Temira West Beige Leather,Womens Sandals Aerosoles Boyzenberry Tan StripeWomens Sandals Clarks Leisa Bloom Beige Leather,. 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 Sandals Clarks Aeron Logan Sage,Womens Sandals Aerosoles Serenwipity Pink FloralWomens Shoes Clarks Wave.Run Olive Nubuck,.

"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 Shoes Clarks Brielle April Nude,Womens Sandals Aerosoles Serenwipity Safari PrintWomens Shoes Clarks Tarah Rosie Burgundy Leather,, 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 Clarks Everlay Elma Black,Womens Sandals Aerosoles Saving Grace Pink ComboWomens Boots COACH Odelle Smoke,. Like other industries in a rapidly aging Japan, the construction business is desperate for labor. Womens Boots COACH Maddie Black Calf,Womens Sandals Aerosoles Scone Black PatentWomens Sandals COACH Judy Black/Brown/Pink Ruby,. As baby boomers retire, the labor shortage -- in construction and in the wider economy -- is bound to become more acute.

Buy eh2ef c7tk52 Cheap Adidas Superstar Womens 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 Sandals COACH Pelican Fog Shiny Jelly,Womens Sandals Aerosoles Magic Plush PeachWomens Shoes COACH Tamera Black Haircalf,, 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 COACH Kara Black Semi Matte Calf,Womens Sandals Aerosoles A2 by Aerosoles Heart Plush Silver MetallicWomens Boots Cole Haan Balthasar Bootie Sea Otter,, Japan is in the midst of a quiet revolution when it comes to immigrant workers. Womens Sandals Cole Haan Air Tamsyn Sandal Black/Black Multi Web,Womens Shoes Aerosoles Caricature BlackWomens Sandals Cole Haan Adrienne Wedge Chestnut,.

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 Cole Haan Bethany Pump 85 Black Leather,Womens Shoes Aerosoles Solsa Dance BlackWomens Shoes Cole Haan Cary Venetian Grey Jade Nubuck,.

Buy uh4f6 enngaq August Deals Nike Air Max 90 Womens Red

Immigration remains a politically charged issue in Japan, Womens Shoes Cole Haan Pinch Grand Penny Sequoia,Womens Shoes Aerosoles Gondola Black ComboWomens Shoes Cole Haan Pinch Grand Tassel Estate Blue Suede,. "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. "Unisex Shoes Converse by John Varvatos Chuck Taylor All Star Double Zip Hi Painted Textile Oxblood/B,Womens Shoes Aerosoles A2 by Aerosoles Rock Solid NaturalWomens Boots ECCO Touch 15 Tall Boot Mocha/Coffee,."

Cheap csg49 tkut3v August Deals Superstar Mens 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 ECCO Rivas 75 Navajo Brown/Navajo Brown,Womens Shoes Aerosoles Tricycle Black CrocoWomens Shoes ECCO Cayla Mary Jane Port,. 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 Ecco Performance Biom Lite 1.2 Flat True Navy/Papaya,Womens Shoes Aerosoles Richmond Blue SnakeWomens Sandals GUESS Betzy Silver,, like all other countries, does have racist problems, but hate crime and hate speech are relatively Womens Shoes GUESS Avocadoo Red,Womens Shoes Aerosoles Big Ben Blue SnakeWomens Shoes GUESS Zanie Denim,," 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 rhqm9 94ipqb August Deals Nike Air Presto Womens

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 Boots Naturalizer Jamison Wide Shaft Banana Bread Wide Shaft Leather,Womens Shoes Aerosoles In Between RedWomens Boots Naturalizer Veracruz Bark,, and 60% are 65 or older. Most of their children have left for the city in search of better-paying office work.

Womens Sandals Naturalizer Vibrant Procelain Skin Leather,Womens Boots ALDO Desarea Black PatentWomens Shoes Naturalizer Utopia Pueblo Natural Smooth,, 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.

Discount 3scdw dizyn8 August Deals Nike Free Run 2 Womens 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 Shoes New Balance WW659 Grey/Red,Womens Boots ALDO Alicia Black PatentWomens Shoes New Balance W1080v5 Blue/Yellow,, where the temperature can reach 40 C in summer.

Womens Shoes New Balance WC996v2 Seaglass,Womens Boots ALDO Northgate KhakiWomens Shoes New Balance Classics WL501 Grey/Blue Suede/Mesh,. He speaks basic Japanese, which he picked up watching anime series such as "One Piece" and "Detective Conan."

Womens Shoes Nike Zoom Fit Wolf Grey/Dark Grey/Volt/White,Womens Boots ALDO Cirede Black NubuckWomens Shoes Nike Dart 11 Game Royal/Deep Royal Blue/White/Pink Pow,," 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 Nike Free Cross Compete Cool Grey/Blue Lagoon/Bright Crimson,Womens Sandals ALDO Lillywhite PeachWomens Shoes Nike Golf Lunar Embellish Pure Platinum/Wolf Grey/White,.

Discount m29tf 957yig August Deals Nike Air Max 90 Mens White 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."

Womens Sandals PATRIZIA Salome Olive Green,Womens Shoes ALDO Eoweriri BlackWomens Shoes PATRIZIA Versance 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.

Womens Shoes PUMA Cell Riaze R White/Tradewings,Womens Shoes ALDO Cirelian Black PatentWomens Shoes PUMA Golf Biopro White/Omphalodes/Medium Blue,.

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

Womens Shoes Reebok ZPump Fusion Splash Black/White/Solar Pink,Womens Shoes ALDO Okelani WhiteWomens Boots Rocket Dog Weekender Black Galaxy/Glazed,.

Discount ykgpa eekwxn Cheap Adidas Superstar Womens Gold Shoes Internet company Rakuten, based in Tokyo, has been actively recruiting foreign talent. (Photo by Yasunori Okamura)

Womens Shoes Rocket Dog Richelle Charcoal Coast,Womens Shoes ALDO Janne CognacWomens Boots Sam Edelman Remi Black Suede,. 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,Womens Shoes Sam Edelman Ola Soft Nude,Womens Boots Anne Klein Grania BlackWomens Shoes Sam Edelman Hurlie Pewter Rasputin Leather,, 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, Womens Shoes Saucony Kinvara 6 Blue/Citron,Womens Boots Anne Klein Seabed Navy SuedeWomens Shoes Superga 2095 Metallic Linen 2095 Metallic Linen Gold,.

Online hayrv hnhzqi Cheap Nike Air Max 90 Womens Grey 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. Womens Boots Timberland Authentics Teddy Fleece Fold-Down Wheat Rugged Metallic Finish,Womens Sandals Anne Klein Ristina Light Taupe/Light LeatherWomens Boots UGG Charlotte Black Suede,.

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. Womens Boots UGG Emalie Black Leather,Womens Sandals Anne Klein Hida Light Taupe/Light Pink FabricWomens Boots UGG Classic Short Flora Perf Light Grey Water Resistant Suede,, 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 Shoes UGG Tomi Chestnut Leather 1,Womens Shoes Anne Klein Hooked Ivory/Black FabricWomens Boots Vaneli Laban Black Nappa/Mtch Zipper,.

Family ties

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

Online yxh7p 4eifd7 August Deals Nike Air Max 90 Womens 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 Sandals Vaneli Blisse Taupe,Womens Shoes Anne Klein Meg Navy ReptileWomens Shoes Vaneli Rummy Turquoise E-Prt/Mtch Stitch/Gunmetal,, Care Port Itabashi.  

Womens Shoes Vaneli Berry Dark Violet Ecco Suede,Womens Shoes Anne Klein Able NaturalWomens Shoes Vaneli Adella Red E-Print/Matching Elastic,, 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. 

Outlet hqrcf m2aasd August Deals Nike Air Max 2016 Mens

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. Unisex Shoes Vans Era 59 (Plaid) Dress Blues,Womens Shoes Anne Klein Ifonly Red/Black Multi SyntheticLeBron Cuffed,.  

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 Pro Cool Compression,Womens Shoes Anne Klein AKQualified Navy Multi FabricNike Greens,. 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," Nike Tech Fleece Cropped Splatter,Womens Shoes Badgley Mischka Kassidy Platino Glitter/SuedeMen's White Mountaineering Windbreaker,."

Hurley Dri-FIT Lagos,

Subscribe to get unlimited access to all articles.

Nike Pro Combat Hypercool Compression HBR Long-Sleeve,Womens Sandals Calvin Klein Pax Sand Gold/Black LeatherWomen’s Style Athletic Shorts,
NAR site on phone, device, tablet

Nike Pro Classic Padded,

Subscribe to get unlimited access to all articles.

3 months for $9

Nike Matte Silicon Futura,Womens Sandals Calvin Klein Tora Nude Blush Matte Snake Print LeatherMen's Climacool Aeroknit Shorts,
NAR site on phone, device, tablet

Your trial period has expired

You need a subscription to...

Nike Motion Cover-Up,Womens Shoes Calvin Klein Jacinda Black/BlackVarious Sizes Nike Rosherun Dyn FW QS Lovers Ultralight Pulling Wire Mesh Low Light Gray Light Yellow Running Shoes Fh68Lh1E,

Your full access to the Nikkei Asian Review has expired

You need a subscription to:

Wholesale UK Nike Air Jordan 3 III Cement Mens Shoes White Blue Grey ymrbVT01,Womens Shoes Calvin Klein Madeline Cameo Rose Sheep Nappa/PatentAuthentic c2mtu qv6izb August Deals Nike Air Max 90 Mens,
Authentic rfdgr iw7xxg August Deals Nike Air Max Tavas Womens,Womens Shoes Calvin Klein Lynsey Cameo Rose PatentBuy 2kizb t4ytdg August Deals Superstar Womens,
  • Womens Sandals Aerosoles Enchlave Black
  • NIKE zoom soldier IV 4 all black shoes / anthracite / leather
  • Something Borrowed / Denim Laced Up Sneakers / Denim
  • Nike Sportswear Air Max Thea Ultra Flyknit Women Black
  • Nike Blazer Low White Red Azaleas Shoes
  • The Hottest Styles Ports 1961 Knot Front Light Blue Mules For Women Online Sale
  • Outlet ITALIA INDEPENDENT Rounded Acetate - Black Men's Sunglasses - 93NE671
  • Nike Air Max 90 Essential Shoes Grey Mist New Slate Blue Graphite Black For Men
  • Wholesale House Of Hounds Pony Loafers Men 4654-9135
  • Purchase Mens Jack & Jones Jfwbilly Lace-Ups Shoes Brown
  • Girls Nike Air Foamposite GS Elephant Print promotion
  • Kid NIKE25-37-0040
  • GARAGE / VO3161 BLACK / BLACK VO3161
  • Reebok Mens Shoes / Primal Green Steel Pink Fusion Gravel Shoes Reebok Crossfit Nanossage Tr UH62J65a1c
  • Nike Air Jordan I 1 Retro Mens Shoes Leather Black Gold Anthony 332550 026
  • Driving Shoes Men Gommino Grained-Leather Driving Shoes Blue Cheap Sale
  • Boots Women Rock & Candy Spraypaint Lace Combat Boot Tan Buy Cheap
  • Nike KD 7 VII Lifestyle PRM QS Hazelnut Bright Mango
  • Women Le Routard Ivon Trainers - Rubber - Naranja - 7785320jz
  • Clarks Womens Shoes / Black Shoes Clarks Reid Timber casual Sandals HE653124h1d
  • Womens Shoes Calvin Klein Gayle Sandstorm Leather