New Balance 574 Men Coupon_1201 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

Nike Air Max Siren Womens Black/Anthracite/Wolf Grey/Coolt Grey Running Shoes V14147,New Balance 574 Women Coupon_1489,Nike Air Max 90 Womens White/Black/Wolf Grey Running Shoes V89297,. 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 Flex Run 2015 Womens Chalk Blue/Hyper Orange/Varsity Maize/White Running Shoes V43721,New Balance 574 Women Coupon_1505,Nike Roshe One Womens University Red/University Red/Sail Running Shoes V83029,.

"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 Nike Match Supreme White/Black/White/Black UK#N5-9481,New Balance 670 Women Coupon_1517,Men's Nike Air Max Invigor Premium Black/White/Black UK#N5-9578,, 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 Nike Mercurial Vortex II FG Blue Tint/Racer Blue/Hyper Turquoise/Bright Mango UK#N5-9560,Nike Derrick Rose Men Coupon_1570,Women's Nike Golf Lunar Control White/Bright Citrus/Pink Pow UK#N5-8930,. Like other industries in a rapidly aging Japan, the construction business is desperate for labor. Calvin Klein 1 Pack Linear Cotton Trunk CP404,Nike Kevin Durant War Boots Men Coupon_1755,Havaianas Infant Brasil Logo Flip Flop CP518,. As baby boomers retire, the labor shortage -- in construction and in the wider economy -- is bound to become more acute.

Nike Baseline Stock 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 Junior Stefan Janoski Suede Trainer CP662,Nike Kobe Bryant Men Coupon_1809,Toms Nursery Classic Slip On Espadrille CP798,, 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.

Alphalab Plinth Full Zip Hooded Top CP956,Nike Kevin Durant War Boots Men Coupon_1776,Criminal Damage Space Long Hooded Top CP1032,, Japan is in the midst of a quiet revolution when it comes to immigrant workers. Antony Morato Driver Jacket CP1205,Men's Basketball Shoe Jordan Extra.Fly 854551-001,Brave Soul Sanjay Light Bomber Jacket CP1281,.

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, Jack & Jones Solid Light Biker Jacket CP1418,Men's Basketball Shoe Nike Hyperdunk 2016 844359-660,Nike Flex Fury Womens Black/Wolf Grey/Cool Grey/White Running Shoes V37440,.

Nike ENMY Selvedge

Immigration remains a politically charged issue in Japan, Carhartt Skill Short CP2101,Men's Firm-Ground Soccer Cleat Nike Mercurial Superfly Leather FG 747219-001,11 Degrees Tropical Fade Swim Short CP2277,. "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 Tribute Track Top CP3578,Men's Golf Shoe Nike Air Zoom 90 IT 844569-100,Ellesse Navona Full Logo Flip Flop CP3835,."

Running Jacket 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.Timberland Classic Boat Shoe CP3932,Men's Nike Air Max 90 Ultra BR Shoe 725222-404,adidas Originals Adi-Ease Trainer CP4098,. 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.

"Bjorn Borg X100 Low Rub Trainer CP4256,Men's Nike Basketball ShoeKD 8 749375-807,Creative Recreation Kaplan Patent Suede Trainer CP4361,, like all other countries, does have racist problems, but hate crime and hate speech are relatively Hugo Boss Lighter Influence Trainer CP4479,Men's Nike SB Stefan Janoski Max Unisex Shoe 631303-841,Nike Roshe Run Trainer CP4626,," 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.

Nike AW77 Cuffed Fleece

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

Nike Internationalist 'Fleece Pack' Trainer CP4734,MEN'S NIKE SHOE LEBRON 12 EXT 748861-900,Oill Athens Signature Trainer CP4885,, and 60% are 65 or older. Most of their children have left for the city in search of better-paying office work.

Supra Hammer Run Trainer CP5031,Men's Running Shoe Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 32 749340-402,Timberland Womens 6 Inch Premium Boot CP5180,, 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 French Terry Alumni 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 adidas Stabil Boost Star Metallic/White/Tech Metallic,Men's Running Shoe Nike LunarEpic Flyknit 818676-801,Womens Shoes adidas Running Solar Boost Solar Pink/Dark Grey/White,, where the temperature can reach 40 C in summer.

Womens Sandals Aerosoles Power Of Love Tan,Men's Shoe Air Jordan 1 Retro Low OG 705329-003,Womens Shoes Aerosoles A2 by Aerosoles Lollipowp Black,. He speaks basic Japanese, which he picked up watching anime series such as "One Piece" and "Detective Conan."

Womens Boots ALDO Linsey Taupe,Men's Shoe Jordan Impact 854289-415,Womens Shoes ALDO Mattiace Red,," 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 Boots Anne Klein Camden Black Suede,Men's Shoe Nike Air Force 1 Comfort Lux Low 805300-001,Womens Shoes Anne Klein Hubert Black Multi Reptile,.

2016 Brazil CBF Stadium Home 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 Badgley Mischka Polo White Satin,MEN'S SHOE NIKE AIR MAX 95 ULTRA JACQUARD 749771-401,Womens Sandals C Label Rollin-14 Teal,.

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 Boots Calvin Klein Berrie Cigar Brown Waxy Suede,Men's Shoe Nike Air Presto Ultra Flyknit 835570-002,Womens Sandals Calvin Klein Jeans Valeri Bronze Dusty Suede,.

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 Calvin Klein Gayle Black/White Leather,Men's Running Shoe Nike Air Zoom Odyssey 749338-001,Womens Boots CARLOS by Carlos Santana Ashton Cognac,.

Nike Poly Core Performance Cut-Out Internet company Rakuten, based in Tokyo, has been actively recruiting foreign talent. (Photo by Yasunori Okamura)

Womens Boots Clarks Enfield Ellen Black Leather,Men's Shoe Nike Free Train Force Flyknit 833275-451,Womens Sandals Clarks Paylor Pax Black Synthetic,. 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 Clarks Ciera Sea Burgundy Leather,Men's Shoe Nike LunarEpic Low Flyknit 843764-401,Womens Shoes Clarks Pravana Claire Black 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 Sandals COACH Camara Gold Matte Mirror Metallic,Men's Shoe Nike Roshe Two Flyknit 365 859535-600,Womens Shoes COACH Sandford Saddle Soft Milled Leather,.

Youth Climachill Shorts 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 Cole Haan Leslie Waterproof Bootie Black Suede,Men's Shoe Nike Zoom Speed Trainer 3 804401-400,Womens Sandals Cole Haan Ayla Wedge II 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 Cole Haan Zerogrand Sneaker Heather Grey/Black/Black Croc,Men's Shoe NikeLab Tiempo Vetta 840482-100,Unisex Shoes Converse Chuck Taylor All Star Zip Hi - Tumbled Goat Charcoal Gray,, 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 Sandals ECCO Touch 45 T-Strap Sandal Black/Black,Men's Training Shoe Nike Zoom Speed Trainer 3 804401-600,Womens Shoes ECCO Touch 15 Scale Ballerina Morillo/Morillo,.

Family ties

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

Various Sizes Nike Shox Turbo 12 Mens Shoes Mesh Black White LqaIpGtn 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 GUESS Jiyana Silver Synthetic,NIKE AIR MAX 2015 Black/Clearwater/Fuchsia Flash/White,Womens Boots Naturalizer Josette Wide Calf Black/Banana Bread Wide Shaft Leather,, Care Port Itabashi.  

Womens Sandals Naturalizer Gail Black Leather,NIKE AIR ZOOM PEGASUS 31 Titanium/Total Orange/Bright Citrus,Womens Shoes Naturalizer Peace Grey Plaid Fabric/Black Smooth,, 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 7qkpy 28u64e August Deals Nike Air Max 90 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 New Balance WT10v3 Navy/Pink Glo,Nike Free SB Nano Dark Grey/Light Retro/White/Black,Womens Shoes Nike Free 5.0 V4 Anthracite/Black/Black,.  

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 Nike In-Season TR 4 Black/Dark Grey/White/Sunset Glow,NIKE LUNAR CLAYTON Black/Sail/Black,Womens Shoes Nike Golf Lunar Empress White/Dark Grey/Pure Platinum,. 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 Sandals PATRIZIA Kochi Gold,NIKE ZOOM CAGE 2 White/Pure Platinum/Metallic Silver,Womens Shoes PUMA PC Extreme Slip-on Clear Frost Grey,."

Womens Shoes Reebok Sublite XT Cushion MT Tin Grey/Shark/Solar Pink/White,

Subscribe to get unlimited access to all articles.

Womens Shoes Rocket Dog Jolissa Grey Ranger,Nike Roshe One Girls Grade School Hyper Pink Running Shoes V59087,Womens Sandals Sam Edelman Dailey Pewter,
NAR site on phone, device, tablet

Womens Shoes Sam Edelman Allison Classic Nude,

Subscribe to get unlimited access to all articles.

3 months for $9

Womens Shoes Saucony Originals DXN Trainer Charcoal/Blue,Adidas D Lillard 1 Mens Brown Oxide/Scarlet/Raw Ochre Basketball Shoes V43104,Womens Boots Timberland Authentics Teddy Fleece Fold-Down Dark Burgundy,
NAR site on phone, device, tablet

Your trial period has expired

You need a subscription to...

Womens Boots UGG Kiings Black Leather/Suede,Adidas Adizero Boston Boost 5 Mens Black/White Running Shoes V31131,Womens Boots UGG Bowen Chocolate,

Your full access to the Nikkei Asian Review has expired

You need a subscription to:

Womens Boots Vaneli Valka Black,Adidas Springblade Drive Mens White/Black Running Shoes V86484,Womens Sandals Vaneli Paulie Platino Met Nappa/Ecru Nappa,
Womens Shoes Vaneli Germain Black Mag Patent/White Mag Patent/Clear Vinyl,Adidas Barricade 2016 Mens Iron Metallic/Black/Shock Blue Tennis Shoes V60474,Womens Shoes Vaneli Shirin Black Soft Nabuk/Black Mesh,
  • Men's Shoe Nike Hypershift 844369-410
  • Mens outdoor sports shoes Canvas UP Casual Sneakers Athletic Knit Shoe
  • Hot Adidas originals SpringBlade Mens -Black/Orange Nike USA TrainersThirty-eight Girls Day
  • Salomon Speedcross 3 Gtx Men's Running Shoes Green COMUK:6182
  • Nike Magista Onda Fg - Men'S - Soccer - Shoes - White/Poison Green/Black/Total Orange
  • Women's Nike Air Huarache OG GS Sneakers Running Shoes Black Print
  • Nike Shox NZ III Third Womens White Black L68l3278
  • Nike Releases Air Max 2013 Womens Shoes Online Fushia
  • Asics Training Shoes Gel-Fit Nova Black Pink Womens
  • Asics Gel-Volleycross Revolution Knockout Pink/White/Electric Blue(Women) Model 67279
  • Alpine200 Hi Top Trainers Black For Men Outlet UK
  • Original Comme des Garcons x Nike Air VaporMax Black Grey
  • 2017 Nike Uk Trainers Men's Kobe Mentality 2 Fierce Purple/Black/University Gold Shoes Canada IZY310696
  • Cheap Nike Air Huarache Run Premium 704830-200 Black Grey
  • Nike Low Kobe 9 Ix 2014 Weave Men Basketball Shoes Purple White
  • Men's - Air Jordan Melo M10 Dark Powder Blue / Team Orange-Black-White Shoes
  • Adidasi Alergare Puma Speed 600 S Ignite Dama Negrii/Roz (471310OBJ)
  • MEN'S NIKE SFB MOUNTAIN Military Brown/Military Brown
  • Nike Zoom Flightclub TF Invisible Pack Black
  • Nike Mens Shoes / Metallic Silver Metallic Silver Black Cool Grey Shoes Nike Shox Nz YS582255r1z