Men's Boot Nike Zoom Kynsi Jacquard Waterproof 806973-001 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

Lyle & Scott Brack Chukka Boot CP3746,Men's Running Shoe Nike Flex Fury 2 819134-800,Clear Weather Lakota Stingray Shoe CP3897,. 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, adidas Originals Busenitz Trainer CP4024,Men's Shoe (Extra-Wide) Nike Dual Fusion X 2 819317-002,adidas Originals Adi-Ease Trainer CP4077,.

"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, Converse Chuck Taylor All Star Ox Trainer CP4301,Men's Shoe Jordan Eclipse Chukka 881453-300,Cruyff Vanenburg X-LITE Trainer CP4419,, 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. Nike Air Safari Trainer CP4596,Men's Shoe Nike Air Foamposite Pro 624041-403,Nike Air Max 95 Trainer CP4717,. Like other industries in a rapidly aging Japan, the construction business is desperate for labor. Nike Air Max 95 'Wool Pack' Trainer CP4865,Men's Shoe Nike Air Max 97 Ultra '17 918356-002,Supra Owen Trainer CP5017,. As baby boomers retire, the labor shortage -- in construction and in the wider economy -- is bound to become more acute.

Shopping 157938 Air Jordan 3S Qs Men 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, Eeight Womens Nelly Boot CP5154,Men's Shoe Nike Air Zoom All Out Flyknit 844134-002,Womens Shoes adidas Barricade Team 4 White/Night Sky/Flash Orange,, 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 adidas Outdoor Terrex Swift R Raw Pink/Black/Ash Purple,Men's Shoe Nike Flex Experience RN 4 Premium 749174-018,Womens Boots Aerosoles Make Two Brown Stretch,, Japan is in the midst of a quiet revolution when it comes to immigrant workers. Womens Shoes Aerosoles A2 by Aerosoles Marimba Dark Brown Combo,MEN'S NIKE BASKETBALL SHOE KD 8 749375-446,Womens Boots ALDO Kyna Black Leather,.

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 Sandals ALDO Chacien Tan,Men's Shoe Nike Roshe One Flyknit Premium 746825-402,Womens Shoes Anne Klein Cragen Notte Suede,.

Discount 161920 Asics Gelnoosa Tri 7 Men Orange White Turquoise Shoes

Immigration remains a politically charged issue in Japan, Womens Shoes Anne Klein AK7Macarena Black Multi Leather,Men's Shoe Nike Zoom All Out Low 878670-006,Womens Boots C Label Michelle-3 Blue,. "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. "Womens Shoes C Label Liberty-13 Black/Grey,Men's Skateboarding Shoe Nike SB Clutch Dark 729825-002,Womens Sandals Calvin Klein Berndette Black Patent,."

Inexpensive 165564 New Balance Classics Ml574 Men Black Red Shoes 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 Shoes Calvin Klein Paulette Dark Cherry,MEN'S TRAINING SHOE NIKE ZOOM HYPERCROSS TR2 749362-610,Womens Shoes Calvin Klein Brady Silver Metallic Snake Print,. 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 Sandals CARLOS by Carlos Santana Wavery Black,NIKE AIR MAX 90 ESSENTIAL Villain Red/Champagne/Pink Pow/White,Womens Sandals Clarks Orlena Chutney Gold,, like all other countries, does have racist problems, but hate crime and hate speech are relatively Womens Sandals Clarks Saylie Witman Black,NIKE AIR ZOOM PEGASUS 33 831352-601,Womens Shoes Clarks Candra Glare Purple Grey Suede,," 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.

Shopping 201163 Nike Air Flightposite 1 Men Silver Grey Black Shoes

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 COACH Lolita Black/Black Milled Leather/Tumbled Leather,NIKE FREE TRAINER 5.0 V6 Black/Dark Grey/Volt/White,Womens Shoes COACH Felisha Black 12cm Sig C,, and 60% are 65 or older. Most of their children have left for the city in search of better-paying office work.

Womens Shoes COACH Justine Wildflower Suede,NIKE ROSHE RUN Brght Crmsn/Brght Crmsn-Tm Orn,Womens Sandals Cole Haan Cameron Sandal Black,, 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.

Buy 243514 Nike Air Max Men Grey Pink Shoes 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 Cole Haan Cambon High Sandal Cashew/Lizard Print,Women's Running Shoe Nike Flyknit Lunar 3 698182-407,Womens Shoes Cole Haan Tali Grand Lace Wedge 40 Coral Haze Perf,, where the temperature can reach 40 C in summer.

Womens Sandals ECCO Babett Sandal Strap Slide Black/Black,Women's Shoe Nike Air Max 90 Premium Jacquard 807298-300,Womens Shoes ECCO Sculptured 75 Pump Dusty Purple,. He speaks basic Japanese, which he picked up watching anime series such as "One Piece" and "Detective Conan."

Womens Shoes GUESS Carnney Blue Patent,Women's Shoe Nike Flyknit Air Max 620659-404,Womens Shoes GUESS Mamari Grey Fabric,," 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 Sandals Naturalizer Jazzy White Leather/Silver Metallic,Women's Shoe Nike Roshe LD-1000 819843-601,Womens Shoes Naturalizer Nadine Brown Suede,.

Comfortable 166739 Nike Air Max 1 Men White Purple Yellow Shoes 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 Shoes New Balance W1400v3 Green/Pink,Nike Roshe One Boys Toddler White/White/Wolf Grey Running Shoes V95985,Womens Shoes New Balance Classics WL515 Grey/Lavender Suede/Mesh,.

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 Nike Free Viritous Wolf GreyGreen Glow/Laser Orange/Total Orange,Nike Roshe One Boys Preschool Wolf Grey/Cool Grey/White Running Shoes V97241,Womens Shoes Nike Air Max Tailwind 8 Print Black/White/White,.

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 Sandals PATRIZIA Celine Blue,Adidas Ace 16.3 Primemesh Fg/Ag Boys Grade School Solar Green/Shock Pink/Black Soccer Shoes V76899,Womens Shoes PUMA Pulse Clearwater/Blue Coral,.

Cheap 217630 Nike Air Max 90 Men Black Green Shoes Internet company Rakuten, based in Tokyo, has been actively recruiting foreign talent. (Photo by Yasunori Okamura)

Womens Shoes Reebok Crossfit Lite Tr Poly White/Impact Blue/Reebok Navy/Timeless Teal,Nike Huarache Run Boys Grade School White/Black/Clay Orange Running Shoes V87309,Womens Shoes Rocket Dog Myrna Black Hawaii Dreams,. 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 Sam Edelman Dakota Black Suede,Adidas 2015 Crazylight Boost Primeknit Mens Black/White/Clear Grey Basketball Shoes V33594,Womens Shoes Sam Edelman Orella Winter Sky 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 Originals Bullet Purple/Green 1,Adidas D Rose 773 4 Mens White/Scarlet/Black Basketball Shoes V93915,Womens Boots UGG Classic Tall Navy,.

Buy 150529 Nike Air Max Ltd II Men Black White 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 UGG Lodge Moonrise Suede,Adidas Pure Boost 2 Mens Black/Dark Grey Running Shoes V16624,Womens Shoes UGG Jacqueline 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 Sandals Vaneli Kezia Light Tan Kerry Calf,Adidas Ace 16.2 Primemesh Fg/Ag Mens Black/Shock Pink/Solar Green Soccer Shoes V26465,Womens Shoes Vaneli Genie Red Smack Metallic Patent,, 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 Vaneli Bibbie Black Nappa Leather,Nike Air Max Wright Mens Black/Anthracite Running Shoes V13033,Unisex Shoes Vans SK8-Hi MTE (MTE) Black/Woven Chevron,.

Family ties

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

Discount 163754 Nike Classic Cortez Nylon Men Blue White Green Shoes 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, Hurley Corman 3.0,Nike Air Max 90 Mens Squadron Blue/Black/Bright Citrus/Flight Silver Running Shoes V78960,Evolution Full Zip Hoodie,, Care Port Itabashi.  

Men's White Mountaineering Henley Tee,Nike Flyknit Racer Mens Black/White/Volt Running Shoes V36899,Women's Cool Jumpsuit,, 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 229442 Nike Dunk Low Men Light British Tan Sail Bold Shoes

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. Usain Bolt Evostripe Shorts,Nike Shox Nz Mens White/Black/White Running Shoes V88954,Sesame Street Girls Sweater,.  

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, Men's Base Woven Shorts,Adidas Adizero Tempo 6 Womens Vivid Berry/Metallic Silver/Glow Coral Running Shoes V84462,UK Outlet Store xeugu9L1 Emergency Men Saucony Mirage 3 Running Shoes Grey / Red / Citron,. 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," Wholesale UK 2017/18 Nike Zoom Kobe X 10 Premium AS iD Customize It Mens Basketball Shoes Red Black Kobe Bryant Silk Road Sneakers Store 8wX1JGtg,Adidas Adissage 2.0 Womens Shock Pink/Matte Silver/Pink Glow Slippers V74696,Authentic emzgx n4ha4m August Deals Superstar Womens,."

Buy 4biqg c8f22v August Deals Nike Air Max 1 Womens,

Subscribe to get unlimited access to all articles.

Buy pi3tc vycutu August Deals Nike Air Max 1 Womens,Hunter Infant Original Chelsea Boot CP523,Cheap 8wv8g ca2qz5 August Deals Nike Roshe Run Mens,
NAR site on phone, device, tablet

Cheap teggx 2wnw3a August Deals Nike Air Max 90 Womens,

Subscribe to get unlimited access to all articles.

3 months for $9

Discount cf2c2 w3cgxx August Deals ZX Flux Womens,Nike Junior Air Jordan 4 Retro Trainer CP628,Online 2pedg ptne53 August Deals Nike Air Max Thea Womens,
NAR site on phone, device, tablet

Your trial period has expired

You need a subscription to...

Online pi8g2 c338bc August Deals Nike Roshe Run Mens,Nike Nursery Roshe Run Trainer CP793,Outlet dpc5r giwght August Deals Nike Air Max Tavas Womens,

Your full access to the Nikkei Asian Review has expired

You need a subscription to:

Sale 5ig9m 87b726 August Deals Nike Air Presto Womens,adidas Originals Chaos Full Zip Hooded Top CP953,Sale snta8 kguupn August Deals Superstar Mens Black,
UK htz3f x3mg36 August Deals Nike Roshe Run Mens,Foray Beam Mesh Detail Hooded Top CP1060,Comfortable 234775 Adidas Crazy 8 Kobe Bryant Men Black White Shoes,
  • NIKELAB X SACAI AIR MAX 90 Volt/Obsidian/Volt
  • Outlet USA Wild Mens Adidas Climacool Freshride Running Shoes Green Red Valentine's Day
  • Discount Adidas Originals Country OG Mesa Running Shoes for Men Outlet
  • Maximum Discount Sales Under Armour Boys Hg Star Wars Tee White Boys 5513
  • Reebok Womens Crossfit Speed Tr Shoes Peach/Celestial Orchid/Steel/Black G57925
  • Discount Sale Nike Free 5.0 2015 Running Womens Shoes Grape White Violet Red New In the UK online
  • Discount Authentic Womens Nike Air Max 90 White/Yellow/Purple/Red
  • Nike Air Max 1 Essential Womens Lifestyle Shoes Black Tide Pool Blue Pure Platinum Deep Royal Blue
  • adidas Originals Women Tubular Defiant - Black/Black/Off White
  • The Most Popular Hummel Stadil High Hi Top Trainers White / Blue / Red For Men
  • Shop Cheap adidas D Rose 7 Red White
  • adidas Performance Men's Shoes DURAMO 6 - Cushioned running shoes - night sky/silver metal/semi flash
  • Cheap Nike AirMax 2018 Men Black University Red
  • Nike Lebron 12 Dunkman Men I Am 12 Lebron James eBook by Grace Norwich certificate LeBron James Photo 12 Pictures CBS News Lebron James 12 Easter Shoes
  • Men's - Air Jordan 1 Retro Cinco de Mayo Black / White-Classic Green-Varsity Red Shoes
  • Adidasi Adidas Zx 500 Og Dama Albi (403359TCZ)
  • Men's NJR X JORDAN COLLECTION White/Grey Red
  • adidas Originals Deerupt Runner Men 's Black/Black/White CQ2626
  • Puma Mens Shoes / Peacoat White Bright Plasma Shoes Puma Evopower 3.2 Fg RR15P6571f