Men's 2016 Netherlands Vapor Match Home - Soccer Jersey EW867053h 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 Nike Air Jordan V 5 Retro Low Basketball Shoes -Size 10 -819171 001,Men's Jordan Retro 7 TD - Football Cleat BL40055x,NIKE AIR JORDAN 1 RETRO LOW OG 705329-600 CHICAGO RED WHITE BLACK SIZE: 13,. 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 Air Jordan 3 Retro Jokers Uk 8 BNIB,Men's Nike Vapor Keystone 2 Low - Baseball Cleat MF337140n,Nike Air Max + 2012 Mens Running Shoes White/Light Gray Size 11.5,.

"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, Asics Gel-Galaxy 8 Kids Running Shoes Pink Yellow Blue Gender:Junior COMUK:2040,Men's Hurley Phantom Free - Sandal XN29893o,Salomon Evasion Aero Men's Walking Shoes Black COMUK:7140,, 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. Asics Gel-Impression 8 Men's Running Shoes Blue Black COMUK:8661,Men's LeBron XIII Limited - Basketball Shoe SB792457s,Merrell Fraxion Thermo 6 Men's Walking Boots Brown Sand Gender:Mens COMUK:7203,. Like other industries in a rapidly aging Japan, the construction business is desperate for labor. Adidas Ax2 Gore-Tex Men's Walking Shoes Grey Black Gender:Mens COMUK:3449,Men's Nike Magista Onda IC - Indoor-Competition Soccer Shoe SL647049h,Saucony Ride 8 Men's Running Shoes Orange Black Navy Blue COMUK:7691,. As baby boomers retire, the labor shortage -- in construction and in the wider economy -- is bound to become more acute.

Reebok Club C85 TDG Black 8442E 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, Merrell Grassbow Mid Sport Gore-Tex Men's Walking Boots Red Grey Black Gender:Mens COMUK:5456,Men's Nike Air Max 1 Ultra Essential - Shoe PE489678e,Cheap Nike Sportswear Air Presto Essential Black Running Shoes for Men Online Sale,, 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.

Cheap Reebok Furylite Tonal Rustic Wine Running Shoes for Men On Sale,Unisex Jordan 23 Lux - Bucket Hat TV44306w,Discount Adidas Originals Tubular Shadow Knit Core Black Sneakers for Men Online,, Japan is in the midst of a quiet revolution when it comes to immigrant workers. Discount Fila Crosscourt 2 F White Sneakers for Men Sale Online,Unisex Nike True Vapor (NFL Packers) - Adjustable Hat HR231737u,Discount Puma Popcat Puma White Sandals for Men Sale Online,.

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, Latest Adidas Original Adilette White Sandals for Men On Sale,Unisex Nike Performance (Duke) - Adjustable Golf Hat XG210145v,Latest Converse Chuck Taylor All Star Lean Charcoal Basketball Shoes for Men Sale,.

Le Coq Sportif Avantage Speckel Gum White 2917W

Immigration remains a politically charged issue in Japan, Latest Nike Sportswear Current Slip On BR Lemon Chiffon Sneakers for Men Sale,Unisex Nike SB Zoom Janoski Canvas - Skateboarding Shoe WR979590f,Latest Superga 2750 EFGLU White Sneakers for Men Online Sale,. "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. "New Adidas Originals Tango Black Sweatpants for Men On Sale,Unisex Converse Chuck Taylor All Star High Top - Shoe HN796088n,New Lacoste L1230 Aqua Polo for Men Online,."

Vans Brigata Suede Red 9609U 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.New Puma Suede Classic CITI Puma Black Basketball Shoes for Men Online Sale,Cheap Adidas Derrick Rose 8 Black Gold Sale,NEW NIKE NIKELAB AIR FORCE 1 LOW VACHETTA TAN MENS SZ 11.5 (555106 200) AF1,. 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 Roshe Run Trainers Shoes Trainers Shoes Light Gray Blue /Nike Jordan [ N2595],Cheap Grey Black Yellow Harden Vol 2 II Sale,Clarks Originals Desert Boots Mens Desert Boots in Dark Brown Q3708,, like all other countries, does have racist problems, but hate crime and hate speech are relatively Camper Beetle Mens Casual Shoes in Brown Q3894,Cheap Mens Nike Air Max 2017 Junior Black White Sale,Supra Stacks II Mens Skate Trainers in Black Black Q4119,," 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.

ASICS Tiger Gel-Lyte III Cream 3156B

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

Converse All Star Leather Ox Black Black Mens Trainers Q4302,Cheap Mens Nike Kyrie III "BHM" Sale,Tommy Hilfiger Riley 4C Mens Trainers in White Navy Q4501,, and 60% are 65 or older. Most of their children have left for the city in search of better-paying office work.

Clarks Originals Trigenic Flex Mens Trainers in Rust Q4685,Cheap Nike Hyperdunk 2017 TB Grey Black Sale,Cheap Asics GEL-Kenun White/White/Glacier Grey Training Shoes for Men Outlet,, 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.

Authentic & Low Price Adidas Hellion 1.0 Blue Item:200152 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 ZX 700 Running Shoes Women Gray White Black Red,Cheap Nike PG 1 kids The Bait Sale,Adidas Superstar II Women W Flower Shoes Gold White,, where the temperature can reach 40 C in summer.

Nike Sportswear Womens Jacket Summit Grey 6562N,Nike Air Force 1 Mens 488298 077,Reebok Womens Dynamic Oversize Sweat Black 4581I,. He speaks basic Japanese, which he picked up watching anime series such as "One Piece" and "Detective Conan."

Reebok Womens Dynamic Crop Tank Black 8099S,Nike Air VaporMax All Black 924501-001,adidas Originals Womens Stan Smith Pink 6089D,," 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 Womens Classic Cortez Suede Beige 7979M,VLONE x NIKE LAB AIR FORCE 1 LOW,Reebok Womens CL Nylon Neutrals Brown 2954R,.

Authentic & Low Price Asics Gel-Fujiattack 4 Maroon Item:200364 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."

Superga Womens 2790 Velvet Blue 9612O,Kids Nike Free Run 2 Running Shoes Yellow/White /Nike Jordan [ N44],Buy Nike Free 5.0 V3 Women's Shoes (Jade) Australia Online,.

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.

Cheap Nike Roshe Run KPU Women's Shoes (Blue) Australia Online,Air Jordan 4 Men Luminous Shoes Black/Red White /Nike Jordan [ N1500],2015 Hot Sale Nike Air Max Thea Womens Print Wolf Grey/Hyper Pink/White Running Trainers OutletClose,.

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

2016- Fashion Womens Converse canvas shoes beige There is a sense of the city,Air Jordan 13 Men Shoes Red White /Nike Jordan [ N4624],2016- Wholesale Mens and Womens Converse All Star shoes blue brown Quality (High Quality),.

Authentic & Low Price Nike Kaishi Red Item:200612 Internet company Rakuten, based in Tokyo, has been actively recruiting foreign talent. (Photo by Yasunori Okamura)

BK71212 Air Max 1 Nike CMFT PRM TAPE Womens Black Slategrey Deeppink White Training Nike USA Trai,Nike Air Max 2014 Men Shoes Sky Blue Black /Nike Jordan [ N1687],Cheap Nike Air Max Womens 90 White Gray Black Red Trainers OutletPretty And Colorful,. 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,adidas Originals ZX Flux Women Grey,Nike Air Force 1 Men High Shoes Black/Varsity Red /Nike Jordan [ N559],Nike Sportswear Loden Women Red,, 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, Women's NikeCourt Pants - Woven Pants HQ128644c,Nike Air Max 2009 Men Running Shoes Black/Varsity Red /Nike Jordan [ N1838],Women's Nike Impossibly Light - Running Jacket BT544720p,.

Authentic & Low Price Puma Icra Trainer Fr Grey Item:200892 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. Women's NFL Los Angeles Rams Game Jersey (Todd Gurley) - Football Jersey EC681822e,Nike Air Max 90 Men Shoes Black White Grey Yellow /Nike Jordan [ N4431],Women's Nike Pro 3" Cool Tracer - Compression - Training Shorts UO585753q,.

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. Women's Nike Soccer Graphic - Tank Top LQ666837p,Nike Air Max 90 Men Shoes Red White Grey /Nike Jordan [ N3004],Women's Nike Modern Fan (MLB Reds) - Top JR190621n,, 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," Women's Nike LunarTempo 2 Print - Running Shoe SK218331x,Nike Air Max 90 Men Shoes Black Green Grey /Nike Jordan [ N3049],Women's Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 33 (Team) - Running Shoe GW556032g,.

Family ties

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

Authentic & Low Price Reebok Hexaffect Run 2.0 Grey Item:201091 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, Women Nike Air Force 1 Flyknit Black White,Nike Air Max 95 Men Running Shoes Black White /Nike Jordan [ N1984],Nike Air Force 1 Women High Shoes White/Black/Varsity Red /Nike Jordan [ N3296],, Care Port Itabashi.  

Nike Air Max 90 Women Shoes Blue /Nike Jordan [ N3680],Nike Air Max Light Running Shoes Grey/-Blue /Nike Jordan [ N648],Nike Free 3.0 V3 Women Shoes Red Black White /Nike Jordan [ N3906],, 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 & Low Price Skechers Go Run Ultra 2 Navy Blue Item:201355

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 Lunarglide+ 4 Women Running Shoes Gray/Blue /Nike Jordan [ N4090],Nike Air Max TN Men Shoes Black Grey Yellow /Nike Jordan [ N1315],Toms Cross Stitch Zoe Womens Sandals in Red White Q3987,.  

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, Puma Faas 600 S Women's Running Shoes Black Gender:Womens COMUK:8245,Nike Blazer Leopard Print Low Shoes Red Black /Nike Jordan [ N159],Merrell Terran Lattice Ii Women's Walking Sandals Brown COMUK:9954,. 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," Keen Liberty Ridge Women's Walking Boots Grey Gender:Womens COMUK:7883,Nike Dunk SB Low Men Low Shoes Maize Blue /Nike Jordan [ N2276],Adidas Terrex Swift R Mid Women's Walking Shoes Pink Black Navy Blue Gender:Womens COMUK:4333,."

Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 32 Women's Running Shoes Purple COMUK:3026,

Subscribe to get unlimited access to all articles.

Salomon Rx Break Women's Walking Sandals White Green COMUK:1619,Nike Zoom Lebron 10 Unisex Basketball Shoe White Black/Red /Nike Jordan [ N916],2016- Retro Ladies Adidas Neo QT Lite W Green Trainers Big Discount,
NAR site on phone, device, tablet

Adidas Scott Metro Attitude Hi Large Tongue Carbon Gray And Black Shoes,

Subscribe to get unlimited access to all articles.

3 months for $9

Puma Archive Logo Hoody Blue 9029E,Nike Free Run 2014 Men Unisex Couple Shoes Grey Black /Nike Jordan [ N321],Fila Artoni Swim Short Pink 9517W,
NAR site on phone, device, tablet

Your trial period has expired

You need a subscription to...

Nike Sportswear Jogger Fleece Grey 3151S,Nike Skateboarding Unisex Shoes Grey /Nike Jordan [ N4376],Le Coq Sportif ESS Tee n,

Your full access to the Nikkei Asian Review has expired

You need a subscription to:

Adidas Originals Equipment Support ADV Black 9280K,Nike Zoom Lebron 10 Unisex Shoes Gray/Pink/Jade /Nike Jordan [ N1247],adidas Originals Tubular Doom Sock Primeknit White 6865P,
Converse CONS Star Player EV Grey 8076V,Puma Tfx Sprint V3 Men's Running Spikes White Green Blue COMUK:2565,Nike Sportswear Mayfly Woven Black 2050D,
  • Men's Shoe Nike Air Foamposite Pro 624041-006
  • New Fashion Mens Casual High Top Sneakers Athletic Running Shoes GOLD / BLACK / WHITE / R
  • Adidas ZX 700 Men Burlywood Chocolate White
  • Mizuno Wave Bolt 4 Men's Court Shoes Black COMUK:5023
  • Nike Elastico Pro Iii Ic - Men'S - Soccer - Shoes - Blue Lagoon/Black/White/Total Crimson
  • Women's Adidas Originals ZX 500 II "Floral Concept" Shoes Cardinal/Cardinal/Running White
  • Nike Free Run 3 Womens Dark Blue Peachblow Shoes P67x5874
  • Nike Air Max 90 Womens Shoes New Black Rosa
  • * Running Shoes Air Max 95 Women Nike Em
  • Asics 33-Fa Powder Blue/Lightning/Blue(Women) Model 49789
  • ecco Women's Shoes HILL - Boots - black
  • On Sale Cheap Air Jordan 6 Detroit Pistons Black Varsity Red-True Blue-Light Graphite 384664-001
  • 2017 Nike Shoes Black Men's Nike Mercurial Superfly Fg Bright Crimson/Persian Violet Shoes Canada ZNE5202514
  • Cheap Kyrie Shoes Nike Kyrie Irving 3 Kids Gold Black White
  • Nike Mens Shoes / Black Medium Ash Hyper Pink White Shoes Nike Roshe Run CW28916541y
  • Men's - Air Jordan XIV 14 Retro White / Black-Varsity Red-Metallic Silver Shoes
  • Adidasi Nike Juvenate Premium Dama Negrii/Gri (312942SQW)
  • MEN'S Nike Mercurial Superfly V FG Black/Black
  • Nike KD Trey 5 II EP Photo Blue Team Orange
  • Nike Mens Shoes / Black Photo Blue Shoes Nike Zoom Rival D 8 SU86L52u1z