Inexpensive 216926 Asics Gelnoosa Tri 9 Men White Navy Yellow 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

KD7 Emerald Green/Dark Emerald/Total Orange/Metallic Silver,Buy 166470 Nike Air Force 1 Men White Orange Shoes,Men's Basketball Shoe Nike Zoom KD 9 843392-611,. 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, Men's Indoor/Court Soccer Shoe Nike MercurialX Proximo IC 718774-580,Authentic 163442 Nike Air Force 1 Men White Green Royal Shoes,Men's Nike Shoe Air Zoom Structure 19 (2015 Chicago Marathon) 815752-013,.

"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, Men's Running Shoe Nike Air Zoom Vomero 10 717440-002,Comfortable 174845 Nike Air Max Men Light Grey White Royal Shoes,Men's Shoe Air Jordan Trainer 1 Low 845403-600,, 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. Men's Shoe Nike Air Huarache Ultra 819685-100,Authentic 172763 Nike Air Max Men Black Shoes,Men's Shoe Nike Air Zoom Odyssey 749338-101,. Like other industries in a rapidly aging Japan, the construction business is desperate for labor. Men's Shoe Nike Free Train Force Flyknit 833275-010,Buy 174982 Nike Air Max Men White Silver Shoes,Men's Shoe Nike SB Stefan Janoski Max L 749678-614,. As baby boomers retire, the labor shortage -- in construction and in the wider economy -- is bound to become more acute.

Womens Boots UGG Chaney Brown Twinface/Leather 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, Men's Training Shoe Nike Free Trainer 5.0 V6 719922-616,Shopping 182288 Nike Air Max 180 Men Black Pink Shoes,NIKE AIR MAX 90 PREM IUMDark Grey/Wolf Grey,, 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.

Nike Flyknit Racer Unisex Running Shoe (Men's Sizing) 526628-800,Discount 162828 Nike Air Max 90 Men White Black Shoes,Nike Unisex Running Shoe Zoom Streak LT 2 599532-308,, Japan is in the midst of a quiet revolution when it comes to immigrant workers. Women's Shoe Nike Air Max 1 Premium 454746-010,Cheap 179184 Nike Air Max 90 Men White Green Shoes,Women's Shoe Nike Free TR 6 833413-142,.

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, Nike Air Max 90 Girls Toddler Copa/White/Blue Lagoon Running Shoes V48465,Shopping 213893 Nike Air Max 90 Men Cyan White Shoes,Adidas D Rose 5 Boost Boys Grade School Scarlet/Black/White Basketball Shoes V73577,.

Womens Slippers UGG Aira Crystals Black Suede

Immigration remains a politically charged issue in Japan, Adidas Springblade Drive Girls Grade School Solar Pink/Black/Solar Blue Running Shoes V77461,Inexpensive 196228 Nike Air Max Ltd II Men Black Red Shoes,Adidas D Rose 6 Mens Black Basketball Shoes V11985,. "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. "Adidas Pure Boost Mens Infrared/White Running Shoes V60336,Comfortable 198310 Nike Air Max Tailwind 4 Men Black Grey Pink Shoes,Adidas X 15.1 Leather Fg/Ag Mens Solar Yellow/Frozen Yellow/Black Soccer Shoes V78233,."

Womens Sandals Vaneli Marlina Old Gold Cabry Print 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 Air Zoom Odyssey Mens Black/Green Strike/Bright Crimson/White Running Shoes V19153,Shopping 241031 Nike Blazer High Men White Black Shoes,Nike Fs Lite Run 3 Mens Black/White Running Shoes V31632,. 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.

"Adidas Energy Boost Reveal Womens Black/Purple Running Shoes V24993,Shopping 202185 Nike Dunk High Men White Red Shoes,Adidas Volley Response Boost Womens Black/Silver Metallic/Power Red Volleyball Shoes V26795,, like all other countries, does have racist problems, but hate crime and hate speech are relatively Nike Air Max Thea Womens Radiant Emerald/Fiberglass Running Shoes V72097,Shopping 153352 Nike Dunk High Men Cherry Brown Yellow Red Shoes,Nike Internationalist Womens University Red/Black/Blue Grey/Bright Mango Running Shoes V81942,," 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.

Womens Shoes Vaneli Grassy Black Icaro Velour

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 FS Lite Trainer II Black/Volt/White/Metallic Platinum UK#N5-9585,Shopping 231332 Nike Dunk Low Men Brown Blue Shoes,Nike Kids Jr Magistax Pro TF Soccer Black/Volt/White/Volt UK#N5-9584,, and 60% are 65 or older. Most of their children have left for the city in search of better-paying office work.

Hype Speckle Backpack CP63,Discount 195182 Nike Dunks High Men Blue White Shoes,Kickers Infant Core Kick High Boot CP529,, 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.

Unisex Shoes Vans LPE (Poly Cotton) Khaki 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, adidas Originals Nursery Hamburg Trainer CP724,Comfortable 236487 Nike Free 4.0 Flyknit Men Green Black Shoes,Waven Erling Skinny Jean CP915,, where the temperature can reach 40 C in summer.

Nike SB Icon Full Zip Hooded Top CP1123,Authentic 182737 Nike Free Run 2 Men Gray Yellow White Shoes,Brave Soul Atherton Longline Mesh Bomber Jacket CP1270,. He speaks basic Japanese, which he picked up watching anime series such as "One Piece" and "Detective Conan."

Only & Sons Nylon Sleeve Bomber Jacket CP1486,Authentic 173178 Nike Free Tr Fit Men Black Shoes,adidas Originals Premium Essentials Fleece Short CP2064,," 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.

Native Youth Block Colour Swim Short CP2323,Buy 224033 Nike Hyperdunk Men Red Green Shoes,Timberland 6 Inch Premium Boot CP3766,.

Nike Rally 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 Samba Suede Trainer CP3943,Comfortable 152679 Nike Lebron 11 Men Shoes,adidas Originals ZX Flux Camo Trainer CP4121,.

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.

Creative Recreation Cesario Low XVI Trainer CP4320,Comfortable 182982 Nike Lunareclipse Shield Men Black Yellow Shoes,Lacoste Premium Leather Gazon Slip-on Trainer CP4517,.

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 Air Max 95 OG Trainer CP4716,Discount 159259 Nike SB Dunk High Men Shoes,Puma Suede Classic Trainer CP4914,.

Nike Rally Boyfriend Full-Zip Internet company Rakuten, based in Tokyo, has been actively recruiting foreign talent. (Photo by Yasunori Okamura)

Vans Old Skool Premium Leather Trainer CP5075,Cheap 152734 Nike Shox Nz Men White Yellow Shoes,Womens Sandals adidas Anyanda Flex Slide Black/Solar Pink/Silver Metallic,. 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 adidas Running Springblade Drive 2 Clear Onix/Flash Red/Silver Metallic,Discount 207083 Nike Shox R4 Men White Shoes,Womens Sandals Aerosoles Plushed Metal Dark Tan,, 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 Boots ALDO Desarea Black Patent,Shopping 172261 Nike Shox R4 Men White Pink Shoes,Womens Shoes ALDO Gottman Black Nubuck,.

Youth Basketball Jacket 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 Shoes Anne Klein Weekend Black/Grey,Discount 184556 Nike Shox Rivalry Men White Black Shoes,Womens Shoes Badgley Mischka Sansa White Satin,.

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 C Label Adler-7A Pink,Discount 240896 Nike Shox Rivalry Men White Shoes,Womens Sandals Calvin Klein Jiselle Soft White Toscana Leather,, 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 Calvin Klein Anabelle Sahara Blush Nappa/Patent,Inexpensive 151382 Nike Zoom Kobe VIi Men Black Shoes,Womens Sandals CARLOS by Carlos Santana Kaden Oceanic Blue,.

Family ties

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

Austria Home Replica Shorts 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 Clarks Nadene Ziva Taupe Leather,Comfortable 173600 Nikelebron11 Men Dark Green Black Shoes,Womens Shoes Clarks Un.Rosily Tan,, Care Port Itabashi.  

Womens Shoes Clarks Ciera Gull Nutmeg Leather,Discount 240924 Adidas Originals Superstar 2.0 Unisex Black White Shoes,Womens Sandals COACH May Saddle,, 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. 

Nike Mobility Micro Geo

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 Boots Cole Haan Graham Short Boot Fatigue Suede,Discount 245373 Asics Gelspeedstar 6 Unisex Red Blue Shoes,Womens Sandals Cole Haan Jillian Wedge Optic White,.  

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 Cole Haan Tali Luxe Wedge 40 Stormcloud Suede,Inexpensive 227253 Asics Sportstyle Gt 2 In Unisex Grey Orange Shoes,Womens Boots ECCO Touch 55 Tall Buckle Boot Coffee/Coffee,. 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 ECCO Aimee Nautical Sneaker Dusty Purple/Dusty Purple,Shopping 171228 Asics Gel Kinsei 4 Women Purple Fluorescent Green Blue Shoes,Womens Shoes GUESS Ette Natural Patent,."

Womens Boots Naturalizer Mona Black Leather,

Subscribe to get unlimited access to all articles.

Womens Shoes Naturalizer Saban Cardinal Leather,Adidas Bounce Titan 2013 Women Coupon_294,Womens Shoes New Balance WX711 Silver/Green,
NAR site on phone, device, tablet

Womens Shoes Nike Zoom Pegasus 31 White/Bright Mango/Hyper Grape/Black,

Subscribe to get unlimited access to all articles.

3 months for $9

Womens Shoes Nike Genicco Print Black/Wolf Grey/White,2015 Christian Louboutin Women Coupon_426,Womens Sandals PATRIZIA Pearl Turquoise,
NAR site on phone, device, tablet

Your trial period has expired

You need a subscription to...

Womens Shoes PUMA Suede Classic Lo Blocks and Stripes Black,Christian Louboutin Sale Women Coupon_564,Womens Boots Rocket Dog Cowell Black/Harvey,

Your full access to the Nikkei Asian Review has expired

You need a subscription to:

Womens Slippers Rocket Dog Barstow Black Icemaker,Jimmy Choo Bridal Women Coupon_703,Womens Shoes Sam Edelman Katarina Moss Green Leather,
Womens Shoes Saucony Spitfire Citron/Purple/Orange,Jimmy Choo Pumps Women Coupon_840,Womens Shoes Timberland Earthkeepers Ellsworth Ballerina Warm Grey Nubuck,
  • Comfortable 198684 Nike Dunk Low Men Green Black White Red Shoes
  • Reasonable Price Timberland Earthkeepers Stormbucks - Boots - Dark Brown S15l4278
  • Etnies Etnies Verano Men Sneakers Black/Grey 322033
  • Cheap Air Jordan 31 (XXXI) Low "Michigan" College Navy Amarillo Sale
  • Cool Grey Black Running - Pure Platinum Wolf Grey 8CX3563 - Men's - Nike Air Max Sequent 2 - Shoes
  • Authentic Air Jordan XIII Retro 3M reflective
  • Adidas Ultra Boost Shoes Best Quality
  • Top Quality adidas Harden Vol. 1 Shoes Mens Core Black / Light Scarlet / Running White Bw0546
  • Nike Free Flyknit 3. 0 Orange Volt Mens Running Shoes
  • Nike Air Oscillate (white)
  • New Trendy Airstep / A.S.98 Noa Sandals Black For Women On Sale
  • Amazing Under Armour Micro G Spawn Low outlets 2 1252477 003 Wolf Grey White
  • 2017 Nike Store Canada Women's Nike Air Max Sequent Black/Wolf Grey/White/Metallic Hematite Shoes Canada JXP0304055
  • Pumps & Heels Women J. Renee Surrender Platform Pump Multicolor Online Shop
  • Package Nike Flyknit Lunar 3 Nike Flyknit Lunar Nike Nike Flyknit Lunar 3 Fleet Feet Sports Nike Men Flyknit Cheap See Savings for Nike Men Flyknit
  • Boots Men Frank Wright Wright Barnet II Leather Boots Black 2017 New Style
  • Mens Puma Drift Cat Trainers Black with Brown and Grey
  • Reebok Classic Leather 60/40 Casual Shoes Men Blue
  • Kobe 11 green black