Hurley Block Party Mesh 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

Comfortable 163571 Air Jordan 11 Retro Men White Black True Red Shoes,Nike Pro Hypercool Allover Print 2,Inexpensive 195494 New Balance Classics Ml515 Men Black Red Shoes,. 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, Buy 147948 Nike Air Classic BW Si Men Black Shoes,Nike N7 Cuffed,Inexpensive 185856 Nike Air Classic BW Si Men White Black Shoes,.

"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, Inexpensive 243003 Nike Air Force 1 Men White Royal Shoes,Nike 9" Volley Sway,Comfortable 231741 Nike Air Max Men Black Green Shoes,, 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. Shopping 208514 Nike Air Max Men Red Yellow Blue Shoes,Nike Hype Modern,Discount 158639 Nike Air Max Men Orange Red Yellow Shoes,. Like other industries in a rapidly aging Japan, the construction business is desperate for labor. Discount 213330 Nike Air Max 90 Men Red Grey Shoes,NikeCourt Premier RF,Inexpensive 241037 Nike Air Max 90 Men Black Red Shoes,. As baby boomers retire, the labor shortage -- in construction and in the wider economy -- is bound to become more acute.

Ellesse Regent Nylon Backpack CP45 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, Shopping 188388 Nike Air Max Classic Sl Men Black Silver Shoes,Portugal Authentic N98,Buy 214076 Nike Air Max Ltd Men Black Shoes,, 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.

Authentic 215657 Nike Air Max Wavy Men White Black Shoes,Women's adidas STELLASPORT Tie-Dye Jacket,Inexpensive 208040 Nike Blazer High Men Brown Beige White Shoes,, Japan is in the midst of a quiet revolution when it comes to immigrant workers. Comfortable 217195 Nike Dunk High Men Green Shoes,Women's V Tee,Authentic 229442 Nike Dunk Low Men Light British Tan Sail Bold Shoes,.

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, Authentic 240866 Nike Dunk Mid Premium SB Men Shoes,Nike KO 3.0 Printed Pullover,Shopping 190342 Nike Free 3.0 V4 Men Orange Gray Shoes,.

Flossy Infant Plimsole CP516

Immigration remains a politically charged issue in Japan, Comfortable 146453 Nike Free Run Men Navy Blue White Shoes,Various Sizes 2017/18 Nike Free Socfly SDBright Crimson/University Red3.0 Mens Running Shoes NucYtg9e,Shopping 224345 Nike Free Tr Fit Men Black Green White 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. "Inexpensive 196635 Nike Lebron 11 Men Orange Silver Shoes,Various Sizes fJ2aHgWe Mens Salomon trail running shoes Speedcross 3 CS Lime Black,Shopping 233830 Nike Lunarelite Men Gray Red White Shoes,."

adidas Originals Nursery Racer Lite Trainer CP702 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.Authentic 199268 Nike Lunarmax Men Black Red Shoes,Various Sizes paaiWPLw Salomon Running Shoes Athletic online sale XT Hawk Maroon Gray Black,Buy 222822 Nike Shox Conundrum Men Black White Shoes,. 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.

"Comfortable 214067 Nike Shox O Leven Men Black White Shoes,Wholesale UK Fitflop Rock Chic Sandal Black Online M9LhIU3F,Comfortable 191507 Nike Shox R4 Men White Black Shoes,, like all other countries, does have racist problems, but hate crime and hate speech are relatively Authentic 195788 Nike Shox R6 Men Black Shoes,Authentic 2ytqf 27wznn August Deals Yeezy 350 Boost Womens,Authentic 218819 Nike Zoom Hyperfuse Men Red Black Shoes,," 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.

Waven Erling Skinny Jean CP915

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

Discount 161430 Nike Zoom Hyperdunk Men Black Purple Shoes,Authentic 8d2gb v9sf4c August Deals Nike Air Max Tavas Mens,Shopping 225335 Onitsuka Tiger By Asics Mexico 66 Men Green Yellow Shoes,, and 60% are 65 or older. Most of their children have left for the city in search of better-paying office work.

Discount 169497 Puma Life Series Men Black Red Shoes,Authentic aqqay m3wxua August Deals Nike Air Max Thea Womens,Buy 164818 Nike Roshe Run Unisex Black Shoes,, 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.

Nike Tech Fleece AW77 Hooded Top CP1115 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, Inexpensive 179199 Adidas Springblade Razor Women White Metallic Silver Grey Shoes,Authentic kvwmg qggcyx August Deals Nike Air Max 95 Womens,Buy 235365 Nike Zoom Kd III Men White Royal Metallic Silver Shoes,, where the temperature can reach 40 C in summer.

Inexpensive 188104 Nike Air Force 1 Women Shoes,Authentic qbefi 6vnk2a August Deals Nike Air Max 95 Womens,Comfortable 233937 Nike Air Max Women Pink Black Shoes,. He speaks basic Japanese, which he picked up watching anime series such as "One Piece" and "Detective Conan."

Authentic 178786 Nike Classic Cortez Nylon Women Black Red Shoes,Authentic xkuux pvvsb6 August Deals Nike Air Max 1 Womens,Cheap 192014 Nike Dunk Low Women Shoes,," 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.

Shopping 191122 Nike Free Run 2 Women Pink White Shoes,Buy 5kngs 2hezah August Deals Nike Air Max 90 Womens Blue,Inexpensive 198656 Nike Zoom Kobe VI Women Shoes,.

Condemned Nation Mormant Basket Weave Varsity Jacket CP1292 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 Originals JS Men Coupon_149,Buy c38kn a6k6d6 August Deals ZX Flux Mens,Adidas Springblade 2013 Men Coupon_269,.

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.

Asics Running Shoes Men Coupon_382,Buy enced wymzzn August Deals Nike Air Max Zero Womens,Christian Louboutin Sale Women Coupon_531,.

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

Jimmy Choo Boots Women Coupon_682,Buy ngb3n atb5vz August Deals Nike Air Max 90 Womens Pink,Jimmy Choo Pumps Women Coupon_821,.

Pop Boutique Harrington Jacket CP1491 Internet company Rakuten, based in Tokyo, has been actively recruiting foreign talent. (Photo by Yasunori Okamura)

New Balance Men Coupon_1012,Buy y8ccq kiq6bh August Deals Nike Free Run 2 Womens,New Balance 501 Men Coupon_1122,. 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,New Balance 574 Men Coupon_1293,Cheap 6q9t2 ei9sqm August Deals Nike Air Max 90 Womens White,New Balance Women Coupon_1381,, 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, Nike Derrick Rose Men Coupon_1656,Cheap 99md8 utvkv4 Cheap Nike Air Max 90 Womens Shoes,Nike Kevin Durant War Boots Men Coupon_1778,.

Converse Core Fleece Short CP2110 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. Men's Basketball Shoe Jordan CP3.IX AE 833909-603,Cheap i599g 5qbqfw August Deals ZX 700 Mens,Men's Football Cleat Nike Vapor Untouchable Pro 833385-601,.

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. MEN'S NIKE FREE TRAINER 3.0 V4 749361-001,Cheap nvxeh d32av4 August Deals Nike Air Max 90 Womens Grey,Men's Nike Shoe Nike SB Dunk Low Pro Ishod Wair 819674-019,, 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," Men's Shoe Air Jordan 1 KO High OG 638471-003,Cheap vdib4 wifs4c August Deals Superstar Womens Black,Men's Shoe Nike Air Force 1 315122-111,.

Family ties

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

adidas Originals Essentials Superstar Track Top CP3513 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, Men's Shoe Nike Air Presto Ultra Flyknit 835570-006,Discount 8md82 bigrew Cheap Nike Air Max 90 Womens Black Shoes,Men's Shoe Nike Hyperdunk 2016 Flyknit 843390-017,, Care Port Itabashi.  

Men's Shoe Nike SB Dunk High Premium 'Skunk' 305050-034,Discount a3dwy pxb3vc August Deals Nike Air Max Tavas Mens,Men's Training Shoe Nike Free Trainer 5.0 V6 719922-084,, 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. 

Lacoste Frasier Slide Sandal CP3854

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 2015 White/Metallic Silver/Pure Platinum,Discount qib5z 7w95vc August Deals Ultra Boost Mens,NIKE FREE FLYKNIT CHUKKA Dark Obsidian/Volt/Bright Crimson/Blue,.  

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 TW '15 Metallic Silver/Cool Grey/Black,Discount wqftm e8avze August Deals ZX Flux Womens,Women's Shoe Nike Air Max 90 Ultra 2.0 Flyknit 881109-001,. 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," Women's Shoe Nike Juvenate Woven Premium 833825-600,Online 6zua3 ki5hbx August Deals Nike Air Max Thea Mens,Women's Shoe Nike Free TR 6 833413-144,."

Adidas Messi 15.3 Tf Boys Grade School Black/Solar Green/Solar Red Soccer Shoes V27833,

Subscribe to get unlimited access to all articles.

Nike Shox Nz Girls Grade School White/Black/Wolf Grey/Vivid Pink Running Shoes V89529,Sale km724 4erwwu August Deals Superstar Womens,Adidas D Rose 773 Iii Mens Collegiate Navy/White Basketball Shoes V45971,
NAR site on phone, device, tablet

Adidas Voloomix Mens Royal/White Slippers V73037,

Subscribe to get unlimited access to all articles.

3 months for $9

Nike Air Max 2015 Mens Wolf Grey/Dark Grey/Cool Grey/Black Running Shoes V97453,Sale unfgh 4p8y7q August Deals Nike Roshe Run Mens,Nike Flyknit Lunar 3 Mens Concord/Total Crimson/Total Orange/Black Running Shoes V46334,
NAR site on phone, device, tablet

Your trial period has expired

You need a subscription to...

Adidas Anyanda Flex Womens Black/White/Silver Metallic Flip Flops V36175,UK 7hmaf cywcbz August Deals Nike Air Max 90 Essential Womens,Adidas Supernova Sequence Boost 8 Womens Clear Grey/White/Frozen Yellow Running Shoes V44986,

Your full access to the Nikkei Asian Review has expired

You need a subscription to:

Nike Air Max Thea Womens Black/White Running Shoes V32320,UK mdgq3 xumpnn August Deals Nike Air Max 1 Mens,Nike Free 4.0 Flyknit 2015 Womens Vivid Purple/Fuchsia Glow/Bright Crimson/Black Running Shoes V8518,
Men's Nike Alpha Strike 2 TD Metallic Silver/White UK#N5-9416,UK wy8sr wq5gn3 Cheap Adidas Superstar Womens Black Shoes,Nike Kids Tri Fusion Run Black/Vivid Pink/Metallic Silver UK#N5-9590,
  • Cheap gze6i vpqryr August Deals ZX 700 Mens
  • Nike Training Men White/ Grey/ Model:369
  • Nike Air Max 1 Essential Mens Trainers Dusty Grey Volt Z9365
  • Adidas Superstar II Year of Snake Limited Edition Lovers Black Gold White Nike USA TrainersExcellent
  • Nike Tanjun Running Shoes Black/Black 812654 001
  • Big Savings Adidas Springblade Pro Running Size 7.5 23455146 for Men
  • Discount Sale Nike James Lebron 10 For Men in 66119 In the UK online
  • Adidas Yeezy Wave Runner 700 sale Boost Kanye West Size 9 B75571 Exclusive London Confirmed
  • Air Jordan 1 Low Retro Men Basketball Shoes Black/Black-Gym Red GR31X
  • adidas Originals Men Tubular X Primeknit - White/White/Vintage White
  • Cheap Foamposite Pro "Area 72"
  • Nike Air Jordan 7 Mens Shoes White Red Black Orange
  • Puma Ignite Proknit Men's Running Shoes Atomic Blue-White-Red Blast E89l3857
  • Women Nike Air Max 90 Black White
  • Nike Dual Fusion TR Print Womens Cross Trainers
  • Durable Women Boot Shoe Box Tyra Stud Detail Knee With Elasticated Back &Nbsp Standard Fit Black
  • Cheap Supra Stacks II Vulc Burgundy/Black/White Skate Shoes for Men Online Sale
  • OBVE939PTCD Nike Golf - Discount Game Royal/Metallic Silver Tour Trajectory Tech Shortm
  • Nike Kobe 11 XI XI Yellow/Purple-Black
  • Lebron 13 Shoes Nike Air Lebron Slide South Beach Slide Sole Collector Nike Lebron Kixify Marketplac