New Balance 996 Women Coupon_1524 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 Sequent Mens White/Cool Grey/Pure Platinum/Black Running Shoes V90785,Men's Training Shoe Nike Train Prime Iron DF 832219-010Nike Air Max Tavas Mens Black/White/Black Running Shoes V33209,. 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 Zoom Odyssey Mens Wolf Grey/Cargo Khaki/Lucid Green/Black Running Shoes V97214,Men's Training Shoe Nike Zoom Speed Trainer 3 804401-600Nike Flyknit Lunar 3 Mens Total Orange/Blue Lagoon/Laser Orange/Black Running Shoes V81144,.

"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 Lunaracer+ 3 Mens Green Strike/Black/Hyper Orange/White Running Shoes V56427,Men's Weightlifting Shoe Nike Romaleos 3 852933-600Nike Shox Deliver Mens White/White/Metallic Silver/Black Running Shoes V95622,, 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. Adidas Anyanda Flex Womens Black/White/Silver Metallic Flip Flops V36202,Nike Men's Shoe Air Force 1 Mid 07 315123-029Adidas Energy Boost 2 Womens Solar Blue/Tech Grey Metallic/Solar Metallic Running Shoes V76194,. Like other industries in a rapidly aging Japan, the construction business is desperate for labor. Adidas Ultra Boost Womens Sun Glow/Solid Grey/Purple Glow Running Shoes V79681,Men's Turf Soccer Shoe Nike MagistaX Finale II TF 844446-708Adidas Gymbreaker Bounce Trainer Womens Black/Matte Silver/Shock Pink Training Shoes V21643,. As baby boomers retire, the labor shortage -- in construction and in the wider economy -- is bound to become more acute.

Womens Shoes Cole Haan Lena Wedge WP 55mm II Maple Sugar Patent WP 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 Air Max Excellerate Womens Hyper Orange/Pure Platinum/Cool Grey/Black Running Shoes V58693,Men's Turf Soccer Shoe Nike MercurialX Proximo TF 718775-580Nike Air Max 90 Womens Black/Wolf Grey/White Running Shoes V38344,, 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 Air Zoom Pegasus 32 Womens Black/Bright Crimson/Sail/Hyper Orange Running Shoes V14463,Nike Air Force 1 07 LV8 University White/Gum Light Brown/WhiteNike Free 4.0 Flyknit 2015 Womens Black/Hyper Orange/University Blue/Sail Running Shoes V20656,, Japan is in the midst of a quiet revolution when it comes to immigrant workers. Nike Free 5.0 2015 Womens Violet Ash/White/Hyper Orange/Black Running Shoes V84341,NIKE AIR HUARACHE Black/Menta/Hot Lava/BlackNike Zoom Vomero 10 Womens Blue Tint/Racer Blue/Chalk Blue/Black Running Shoes V39994,.

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, Men's Nike Vapor Speed Low TD Black/White UK#N5-8761,NIKE AIR FORCE 1 HIGH 07 White/WhiteMen's Nike Mercurial Finale TF Urban Lilac/Bright Mango/Black UK#N5-9487,.

Womens Boots ECCO Touch 75 Ankle Bootie Mahogany Cow Nubuck

Immigration remains a politically charged issue in Japan, Men's Nike SB Check Black/Anthracite 1 UK#N5-9132,Nike Air Max 93 Jade Stone/Black Pine/Fuchsia Flash/Dark DuneWomen's Nike DF Ballistec Advantage White/Light Aqua/Classic Charcoal/Volt UK#N5-9326,. "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. "Women's Nike Golf Lunar Saddle White/Red Violet/Violet Shade UK#N5-9471,Men's Shoe Jordan Eclipse 724010-005Under Armour Ozsee Storm Backpack CP98,."

Womens Sandals ECCO Damara Strap Sandal Birch 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.adidas Originals Infant Stan Smith Trainer CP461,NIKE AIR MAX 90 ULTRA BREATHE White/Light Retro/Lava Glow/Whiteadidas Originals Junior Stan Smith Trainer CP558,. 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.

"Kickers Junior Kick Low Core Shoe CP616,NIKE AIR MAX THEA Pink Pow/FireberryConverse Nursery Chuck Taylor All Star Ox Double Tongue Trainer CP743,, like all other countries, does have racist problems, but hate crime and hate speech are relatively Foray Frost Regular Fit Jean CP845,NIKE AIR TECH CHALLENGE II Black/Sunset Glow/WhiteJack & Jones Stan Morgan JJ751 Denim Jean CP872,," 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 ECCO Golf Biom Golf at 6pm.com

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 Core Full Zip Hooded Top CP992,NIKE AIR ZOOM PEGASUS 31 Vapor Green/White/Flash Lime/BlackMajestic Raiders Walker Hooded Top CP1101,, and 60% are 65 or older. Most of their children have left for the city in search of better-paying office work.

Antony Morato Contrast Fabric Jacket CP1208,NIKE DUNK ULTRA MODERN Pure Platinum/Wolf Grey/White/Pure PlatinBrave Soul Oakville Faux Fur Bomber Jacket CP1268,, 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.

Womens Shoes GUESS Plasmas Multi Floral 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, Hawksworth Hawkbit Long Jacket CP1406,Nike Flyknit Racer Unisex Running Shoe 526628-731Pretty Green Corporation Monkey Jacket CP1494,, where the temperature can reach 40 C in summer.

Nike Hybrid Cuff Jogger CP1730,Nike Flyknit Racer Unisex Running Shoe (Men's Sizing) 526628-402adidas Originals Premium Essentials Fleece Short CP2064,. He speaks basic Japanese, which he picked up watching anime series such as "One Piece" and "Detective Conan."

Supremacy Ash Tennis Short CP2204,NIKE FREE 4.0 FLYKNIT Total Orange/Atomic Pink/Hyper Crimson/BlaUCLA Piped Swim Short CP2345,," 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 Tech Fleece N98 Jacket CP3580,NIKE FREE 4.0 FLYKNIT Dark Grey/Pure Platinum/White/BlackTimberland 6 Inch Premium Boot CP3769,.

Womens Shoes GUESS Harlea Tan Synthetic 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."

Clarks Originals Trigenic Flex Shoe CP3892,NIKE FREE TRAINER 5.0 Black/Dark Grey/Whiteadidas Originals Superstar SuperColor Trainer CP4011,.

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.

adidas Originals AdiEase Cup Trainer CP4082,NIKE MAGISTA ONDA FG White/Vapor Green/Menta/Chromeadidas Originals Stan Smith Gold Trainer CP4174,.

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

Converse Chuck Taylor All Star High Leather Mono Trainer CP4275,NIKE LUNARTEMPO Total Orange/White/Black/Lyon BlueCruyff Santi Technical Trainer CP4415,.

Womens Boots Naturalizer Jewels Wide Calf Banana Bread Internet company Rakuten, based in Tokyo, has been actively recruiting foreign talent. (Photo by Yasunori Okamura)

Lyle & Scott Cally Mesh Slip On Trainer CP4546,NIKE ROSHE Pure Dark Fireberry/White/Pink PowNike Zoom Stefan Janoski Trainer CP4619,. 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,Nike Air Max Thea Trainer CP4720,NIKE TRAINERENDOR Blue Force/Sail/Pink Pow/BlackNike Lunar Stefan Janoski Mid Flash Trainer CP4843,, 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, Reebok Furylite Graphic Trainer CP4988,NIKE ZOOM SB STEFAN JANOSKI SE Black/White/Gum Light Brown/BlackVans Old Skool Trainer CP5070,.

Womens Shoes Naturalizer Kyndell Sailboat Turquoise Nubuck 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. Moon Boot Womens Monaco Low Boot CP5171,NikeCourt Air Zoom Ultrafly Unisex Tennis Shoe 819692-007Unisex Shoes adidas Adizero TJ/PV Navy/White/Equipment Green,.

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 adidas Galactic Elite Grey/Silver Metallic/Super Pop,Women's Running Shoe Nike Free RN 831509-400Womens Boots Aerosoles High Gear Dark Tan 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 Sandals Aerosoles A2 by Aerosoles Eyes On You White Fabric,Men's Running Shoe Nike Air Zoom Elite 8 748588-400Womens Shoes Aerosoles Softball Black,.

Family ties

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

Womens Shoes New Balance WW980 Black 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 Boots ALDO Cherrie Black Leather,Women's Shoe Nike Air Max 90 Premium Jacquard 807298-200Womens Shoes ALDO Carminati Bronze,, Care Port Itabashi.  

Womens Boots Anne Klein Kahlan Wide Dark Brown Multi Wide Leather,Women's Shoe Nike Air Max Thea EM 833887-500Womens Shoes Anne Klein Myles Black Reptile,, 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. 

Womens Shoes New Balance C696v2 - Tennis Grey/Purple

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 Anne Klein AK7Orra Taupe Suede,Women's Shoe Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 33 831356-100Womens Shoes Badgley Mischka Sansa Garnet Red Satin,.  

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 C Label Lychee-1 Silver,Women's Shoe Nike Flyknit Zoom Agility 698616-004Womens Boots Calvin Klein Olena Black Tumbled Leather/Stretch,. 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 Calvin Klein Bertha Ematite/Winter Taupe Metallic Box/Leather,Women's Shoe Nike Free TR Focus Flyknit 844817-108Womens Shoes Calvin Klein Calida Steel Metallic Box,."

Womens Shoes Calvin Klein Laine Indigo,

Subscribe to get unlimited access to all articles.

Womens Sandals CARLOS by Carlos Santana Kiara 2 White,Adidas X 15.3 Fg/Ag Boys Grade School Black/Shock Pink/Solar Gold Soccer Shoes V26313Womens Boots Clarks Gelata Italia Black/Brown Spot Haircalf,
NAR site on phone, device, tablet

Womens Sandals Clarks Lydie Kona White Leather,

Subscribe to get unlimited access to all articles.

3 months for $9

Womens Shoes Clarks Sugar Sky Black Leather,Nike Free 5.0 2015 Boys Grade School Dark Obsidian/Hot Lava/White/White Running Shoes V51436Womens Shoes Clarks Cabaret City Black Suede,
NAR site on phone, device, tablet

Your trial period has expired

You need a subscription to...

Womens Shoes Clarks Helina Amo Pewter,Nike Air Max 90 Girls Grade School White/Blue Lagoon/Metallic Silver Running Shoes V89555Womens Sandals COACH Coral Nude/Midnight Navy,

Your full access to the Nikkei Asian Review has expired

You need a subscription to:

Womens Shoes COACH Lara Metallic Nude Studded,Adidas 2015 Crazylight Boost Primeknit Mens Solar Yellow/Black Basketball Shoes V77844Womens Boots Cole Haan Avalon Tall Boot Dark Chocolate,
Womens Sandals Cole Haan Gillian Mid Wedge Ivory/Chestnut Stripe Lizard,Adidas Crazy 8 Mens Red Sld/Black Basketball Shoes V72332Womens Shoes Cole Haan Phira Mule Black,
  • Men's Training Shoe Nike Train Quick 844406-107
  • Reebok Shaq ATTAQ IV size us 10 Black White M41972 new with box orlando sports black
  • Nike Dunk Hello Kitty Kids Pink Nike USA TrainersYouth
  • Asics Gel-Noosa Tri 10 Men's Running Shoes Orange Yellow Green Black COMUK:9290
  • Nike Zoom Soldier Viii - Men'S - Basketball - Shoes - James Lebron - Black/Black/Wolf Grey
  • Women-Nike Solarsoft Thong 2 Print Flip Flops White/Bright Crimson/Very Berry
  • Discount Sale Air Max 2011 Netty Womens Breathable-Running Shoes Beige White In the UK online
  • Discount Authentic Womens Nike Air Jordan 13 Shoes Black/Light Blue/Dark Grey
  • Adidas UK Shop - Adidas Raleigh Mid Shoes (White) for Women
  • New Balance Yacht Club WL574YCG Green White Black Womens Shoes
  • Latest M. Moustache Marin Boat Shoes Beige For Men Online Sale
  • Real Cheap Nike Air Flight 89 Total Blackout
  • 2017 Shox Men's Nike Air Max Effort Tr Black/White Shoes Canada CXG8103691
  • Cheap Nike Air Max 95 GOLD BLACK
  • Nike Lebron 8 Viii Ps Dunkman Men Basketball Shoes
  • Men's - Air Jordan Dominate Pro 2 Gym Red / White-Black Shoes
  • Adidasi Alergare Asics Gel-sonoma 3 Barbati Albastri/Negrii/Verzi (776290HXP)
  • Men's Nike Vapor Untouchable Pro PF 839924 324
  • ADIDAS LOS ANGELES (EURO ONLY)
  • Nike Mens Shoes / White Black Mystic Teal White Shoes Nike Air Max Uptempo YS45620341r
  • Adidas D Rose 6 Mens Black Basketball Shoes V11985