Inexpensive 208040 Nike Blazer High Men Brown Beige White 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

Men's Shoe Nike Roshe One 511881-335,Discount 214553 Nike Free 3.0 V2 Suede Men Olive White Shoes,Men's Shoe NikeCourt Air Zoom Ultra React 859719-700,. 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, Nike 90 2014 Shoes,Buy 235365 Nike Free 3.0 V4 Men Blue White Shoes,NIKE AIR ZOOM PEGASUS 31 Blue Lagoon/Volt/Dark Obsidian/Black,.

"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, NIKE INTERNATIONALIST MID River Rock/Total Orange/Summit White/F,Discount 191669 Nike Free Run Men Grey Yellow Shoes,NikeLab Gyakusou Zoom Streak 6 Unisex Racing Shoe 875850-400,, 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. Women's Shoe Nike Air Max 90 Ultra Essential 724981-603,Inexpensive 201332 Nike Free Run 3 Men Black Blue White Shoes,Women's Shoe Nike FS Lite Run 3 807145-005,. Like other industries in a rapidly aging Japan, the construction business is desperate for labor. Nike Flex Experience 4 Girls Toddler Black/Volt/Pink Pow/White/Vivid Pink Running Shoes V30398,Inexpensive 163632 Nike Kd VIi Men Black Shoes,Adidas D Lillard 1.0 Boys Grade School Black/Onix/Scarlet Basketball Shoes V23652,. As baby boomers retire, the labor shortage -- in construction and in the wider economy -- is bound to become more acute.

Women's Essentials Zebra Tee 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 Huarache Run Boys Grade School White/Black/Clay Orange Running Shoes V87309,Inexpensive 180175 Nike Lebron 8 V2 Men Black Red Shoes,Adidas Crazy Light 3 Mens Pride Blue/Electricity/White Basketball Shoes V69464,, 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.

Adidas Adizero Tempo 7 Mens Solar Blue/White/Black Running Shoes V76391,Comfortable 227824 Nike Lunarglide 2 Men Black Grey Shoes,Adidas Ace 16.3 Primemesh Fg/Ag Mens Shock Blue/Semi Solar Slime/White Soccer Shoes V74530,, Japan is in the midst of a quiet revolution when it comes to immigrant workers. Nike Air Max 90 Mid Winter Mens Gym Red/Black/Wolf Grey Running Shoes V57223,Inexpensive 185082 Nike Max Lebron VIii Men White Black Shoes,Nike Flyknit Racer Mens Blue Lagoon/Polarized Blue/Ghost Green/Black Running Shoes V39932,.

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, Adidas Eezay Dots Womens Grey/White/Flash Red Flip Flops V57172,Buy 169426 Nike SB Dunk Low Men Black White Shoes,Adidas Ultra Boost Womens Sun Glow/Solid Grey/Purple Glow Running Shoes V79681,.

Nike Shield Wind

Immigration remains a politically charged issue in Japan, Nike Air Max 2015 Womens Black/Reflective Silver/White/Summit White Running Shoes V25288,Discount 218926 Nike Shox Nz Men Black Red Shoes,Nike Flex Fury Womens Game Royal/Green Glow/Menta/White Running Shoes V54656,. "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 Lunareclipse + 5 Womens Black/Pure Platinum/White Running Shoes V24860,Inexpensive 183015 Nike Shox O Nine Men White Blue Shoes,Men's Nike Flex Supreme TR 4 Black/Volt/White UK#N5-9586,."

Nike Tech Windrunner 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 Kids Free 5.0 Lava Black/Total Crimson/Metallic Silver UK#N5-9600,Inexpensive 232399 Nike Shox R4 Men White Black Blue Shoes,Women's Nike Lunar Lux TR Stealth/Pure Platinum/Wolf Grey/Pink Pow UK#N5-8994,. 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 Kids Jr Tiempo Rio II FG-R Soccer Black/Black/White Multi Snake UK#N5-9620,Inexpensive 176594 Nike Shox R6 Men White Red Shoes,adidas Originals Nursery ZX Flux Print Trainer CP710,, like all other countries, does have racist problems, but hate crime and hate speech are relatively Only & Sons Warp 3079 Skinny Ripped Jean CP907,Buy 243914 Nike Zoom Hyperdunk Men Black Blue Shoes,Nicce Logo Hooded Top CP1104,," 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.

Golf Mixed Stripe Polo

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

Brave Soul MJK Oslo Jacket CP1250,Cheap 188957 Nike Zoom Kobe IV Men Black Yellow Grey Shoes,Levi's Type III Sherpa Trucker Jacket CP1434,, and 60% are 65 or older. Most of their children have left for the city in search of better-paying office work.

Condemned Nation Triple Knitted Cardigan CP1790,Buy 223913 Nike Zoom Kobe VI Men Orange Shoes,Publish Sloan Chino Short CP2196,, 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.

Grasshoppers Zürich Shorts 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, EA7 7 Colours Woven Suit CP3604,Buy 201087 Onitsuka Tiger By Asics Mexico 66 Men Black Blue Shoes,Nike Solarsoft Thong II Flip Flop CP3863,, where the temperature can reach 40 C in summer.

adidas Originals Racer Lite Trainer CP4038,Discount 193323 Puma Future Cat Super Lt Men White Black Shoes,Asics Gel-Lyte III Trainer CP4204,. He speaks basic Japanese, which he picked up watching anime series such as "One Piece" and "Detective Conan."

Creative Recreation Cesario Low Woven Trainer CP4380,Discount 234261 Air Jordan Retro 4 Unisex Military Blue White Grey Shoes,New Balance M574 Trainer CP4564,," 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.

Nike KD VIII 'USA' Trainer CP4751,Comfortable 176591 Nike Roshe Run Unisex Purple Floral Print Shoes,Ralph Lauren Polo Jermain Trainer CP4953,.

Archive Sweater 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."

Vans Atwood Canvas Trainer CP5116,Buy 208132 Air Jordan 1 Retro Women White Pink Grey Shoes,Unisex Shoes adidas Adizero Javelin 2 Black/White/Solar Red,.

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 adidas Running Duramo 7 Black/Night Metallic/Bold Pink,Comfortable 226724 Asics Gelnoosa Tri 9 Women Black Coral Green Shoes,Womens Sandals Aerosoles Yetaway Tan Snake,.

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 Aerosoles A2 by Aerosoles Lollipowp Gold Combo,Shopping 190391 New Balance W3190V1 Women Silver Blue Shoes,Womens Shoes ALDO Galliher Black,.

Men's Climacool Aeroknit Shorts Internet company Rakuten, based in Tokyo, has been actively recruiting foreign talent. (Photo by Yasunori Okamura)

Womens Shoes Anne Klein Barb Grey Twinkle Leather,Inexpensive 160996 Nike Air Force 1 Women White Shoes,Womens Shoes Badgley Mischka Kallan Beige Leather,. 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 Sandals C Label Kona-3 Yellow,Comfortable 192886 Nike Air Max 90 Women Grey Black Shoes,Womens Boots Calvin Klein Jeans Gracie Leather Dark Tan 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 Calvin Klein Gilia Greige Kid Skin,Discount 166231 Nike Classic Cortez Nylon Prm Women Silver White Black Shoes,Womens Shoes Calvin Klein Gayle Jazzberry,.

Various Sizes Nike Air Max 90 Flag Usa Nba Dallas Mavericks Mens Shoes Free Shipping On0Fc1NP 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 Clarks Hayride Elm Black Leather,Discount 225182 Nike Flyknit Roshe Run Women Shoes,Womens Sandals Clarks InMotion Sail Black,.

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 Shoes Clarks Tarah Sofia Black Patent Leather,Comfortable 234888 Nike Free 5.0 V5 Women Dark Grey Yellow White Shoes,Womens Boots COACH Coleen Fatigue 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 COACH Lara Black Studded,Shopping 188602 Nike Lunarglide 3 Women Gray Yellow Blue Shoes,Womens Boots Cole Haan Leslie Waterproof Bootie Black Suede,.

Family ties

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

Authentic 5putc enxsr5 August Deals Nike Air Max 90 Womens Grey 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 Shoes Cole Haan Magnolia Skimmer Paloma Baby Haircalf,Adidas Bounce Titan 2013 Men Coupon_042,Womens Shoes Cole Haan Avery Printed Tutu Ballet Nude/Black,, Care Port Itabashi.  

Womens Boots ECCO Adel Mid Boot Mink/Mink,Adidas Originals JS Men Coupon_126,Womens Shoes ECCO Touch 15 Scale Ballerina Black/Black Leather,, 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. 

Authentic neybb ukzbhd August Deals Nike Air Max Thea Womens

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. Womens Shoes GUESS Cherie Rustic Tan Suede,Adidas Springblade 2013 Men Coupon_262,Womens Boots Naturalizer Johanna Wide Shaft Banana Bread Leather,.  

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, Womens Shoes Naturalizer Ivan Coral Nubuck,Asics Running Shoes Women Coupon_398,Womens Shoes New Balance WX608v4 White/Mint,. 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," Womens Shoes New Balance Classics WL515 Grey/Lavender Suede/Mesh,Christian Louboutin Sale Women Coupon_524,Womens Shoes Nike Air Pegasus '83 Wolf Grey/Bright Crimson/Deep Garnet/Black,."

Womens Sandals PATRIZIA Extravagant Black,

Subscribe to get unlimited access to all articles.

Womens Shoes PATRIZIA Budgie Navy,Nike Derrick Rose Men Coupon_1667,Womens Shoes Reebok Yourflex Trainette 7.0 L MT Neon Cherry/Cool Breeze/White,
NAR site on phone, device, tablet

Womens Shoes Rocket Dog Memories Black Thai Silk,

Subscribe to get unlimited access to all articles.

3 months for $9

Womens Sandals Sam Edelman Reid Black/White,Nike Kobe Bryant Men Coupon_1803,Womens Shoes Sam Edelman Augusta Pop Fuchsia Kid Suede Leather,
NAR site on phone, device, tablet

Your trial period has expired

You need a subscription to...

Womens Shoes Superga 2311 Leahorsew Leopard,Men's Basketball Shoe KD Trey 5 IV 844571-606,Womens Boots UGG Jade Lodge Suede,

Your full access to the Nikkei Asian Review has expired

You need a subscription to:

Womens Boots UGG Classic Short Serape Cream Twinface,Men's Firm-Ground Soccer Cleat Nike Magista Opus FG 649230-505,Womens Boots Vaneli Genius Black Mike Calf/Gold Trim,
Womens Sandals Vaneli Bebra Lime Nappa/Turquoise Nappa,Men's Nike Basketball Shoe Kyrie 2 819583-104,Womens Shoes Vaneli Davis Castagna Prl Nappa/Mtch Elastic,
  • Shopping 214187 Nike Zoom Kobe V Men White Forest Shoes
  • Nike Air Max 2012 Mens Gray Black Sneakers 3126958
  • Special Price Adidas X Porsche Design S4 Sport Bounce Men Shoes Black Grey A51k7749
  • Nike Air Max 2013 Men Running Shoes Volt/Black /Nike Jordan [ N1893]
  • Men's - Blue AG - Soccer - Shoes Solar Orange 1YK6147 - adidas Messi 16.2 FG White
  • Reebok Mens Cross Training Black/Red
  • King Push x Adidas Originals Eqt Guidance 93 Shoes
  • Nike Wmns Classic Cortez Leather Gray
  • Mens Nike Air Jordan V.1 Chukka Christmas Red Shoe For Sale
  • Mens New Balance Trail Running Shoes - Fresh Foam 980 Trail - Red/Black Item M0864
  • Coconuts Women'S Freshman Sandal - "Natural"
  • Sale Nike Dart 11 Trainers Shoes Womens Blue/Graph/Pink 598422AX
  • Nike Air Max Excellerate 4 - Women Shoes
  • UK Classic combination - Puma BMW Pitlane Men Shoes Bmw Team Blue-Bmw Team Blue-High Risk Red
  • Office Taupe Suede Louisiana Stud Moccasin CPO113305
  • Men's - Nike Free Xilla Trainer Stealth / White-Drenched Blue-Voltage Shoes
  • Asos Brown Loafers With Tassel LUE676742
  • Men's Air Jordan 1 Retro Low OG Black/Sail/Medium Grey
  • NFL Super Bowl New England Patriots Game Jersey (Tom Brady) 689149-419 College Navy/Wolf Grey/University Red
  • Top Quality Under Armour Fat Tire Trail Running Shoes 1262238 Black Green