New Balance Women Coupon_1389 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 90 Womens Wolf Grey/Laser Orange/Total Orange/Coolt Grey Running Shoes V98815,Nike Derrick Rose Men Coupon_1648,Nike Classic Cortez Womens Bright Crimson/White Running Shoes V42131,. 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 Free 5.0 2015 Womens White/Black Running Shoes V87071,Nike Kevin Durant Men Coupon_1708,Men's Nike CJ Pro 3 TD Black/Anthracite/White UK#N5-9425,.

"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 Zoom Hyperrev 2016 Wolf Grey/White/Cool Grey UK#N5-8874,Nike Kevin Durant War Boots Men Coupon_1770,Nike Kids Jr Mercurial Vortex II FG Soccer Wolf Grey/Black/Hyper Pink UK#N5-9465,, 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 Free 5.0 Print Voltage Green/Hyper Orange/White/Black UK#N5-9048,JORDAN MELO 11 White/Gym Red/Black,Nike Flex Fury 2 Womens Dark Grey/White/Pink Blast Running Shoes V51192,. Like other industries in a rapidly aging Japan, the construction business is desperate for labor. Flossy Infant Polka Plimsole CP514,Men's Basketball Shoe Air Jordan XXXI N7 854272-003,Kickers Junior Kick Hi Core Boot CP617,. As baby boomers retire, the labor shortage -- in construction and in the wider economy -- is bound to become more acute.

Men's Cleveland Cavaliers Blazers Ultimate Long Sleeve Hoodie 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, Converse Nursery Chuck Taylor All Star Ox Trainer CP731,JORDAN ILLUSION White/French Blue/White,Only & Sons Loom Slim Jean CP906,, 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.

Criminal Damage Fields Of Gold Hooded Top CP1025,Men's Football Cleat Nike CJ3 Elite TD 725226-100,The North Face Lixus Full Zip Hooded Top CP1157,, Japan is in the midst of a quiet revolution when it comes to immigrant workers. Condemned Nation Albion Biker Jacket CP1293,AIR JORDAN DUB ZERO Black/Classic Charcoal/Wolf Grey/White,Foray Control Softshell Hooded Jacket CP1377,.

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, Rains Parka Jacket CP1509,Men's Nike Air Max Tailwind 7 683632-601,Jack & Jones Lucas Noos Roll Neck Knit CP1830,.

Nike Premium Pack

Immigration remains a politically charged issue in Japan, Nike Flow Short CP2186,Men's Nike Basketball Shoe Kobe X Elite 718763-004,adidas Originals Trix Track Top CP3512,. "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. "Clae Grant Boot CP3732,Men's Nike Roshe LD-1000 802022-401,Drome Neoprene Penny Loafer CP3906,."

Women’s No.1 Full Zip Hoodie 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 Busenitz Trainer CP4024,Men's Nike Shoe Kobe XI 836183-015,adidas Originals Superstar RT Trainer CP4141,. 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.

"Converse Fulton Mix Quilted Leather QS Trainer CP4307,MEN'S RUNNING SHOE NIKE AIR ZOOM PEGASUS 32 749340-607,Criminal Damage Python High Trainer CP4384,, like all other countries, does have racist problems, but hate crime and hate speech are relatively Lacoste Misano 36 Trainer CP4520,Men's Running Shoe Nike Free 4.0 717988-064,Nike Kobe X Trainer CP4677,," 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.

Women's HYKE Dress

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 Nike Air Force 1 Elite Knit Jacquard VT Trainer CP4776,Men's Running Shoe Nike LunarTempo 2 818097-002,Ralph Lauren Polo Churston Canvas Trainer CP4944,, and 60% are 65 or older. Most of their children have left for the city in search of better-paying office work.

Vans Trig Trainer CP5072,Men's Golf Shoe Nike Lunar Control Vapor 849971-300,adidas Originals Womens Adilette Slide Sandal CP5207,, 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 OTC65 Track 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 Cloudfoam VS City Grey/White/Frozen Yellow,Men's Shoe Jordan Super.Fly 4 PO 819163-602,Womens Boots Aerosoles Make A Wish Dark Brown Leather,, where the temperature can reach 40 C in summer.

Womens Sandals Aerosoles Eyesight Bone Croco,Men's Shoe Nike Air Huarache Ultra 819685-100,Womens Sandals Aerosoles Plushed Metal Chamb Blue Comb,. He speaks basic Japanese, which he picked up watching anime series such as "One Piece" and "Detective Conan."

Womens Boots ALDO Luckie Light Brown,Men's Shoe Nike Air Max Excellerate 4 806770-010,Womens Boots Anne Klein Coldfeet Black Leather/Brown Leather,," 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 Shoes Anne Klein Falicia Grey Leather,Men's Shoe Nike Air Zoom All Out Flyknit 844134-401,Womens Shoes Anne Klein AK7Macarena Black Multi Leather,.

Nike MM Fly Blade 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 Awake Pewter Glitter,Men's Shoe Nike Darwin 819803-005,Womens Shoes C Label Adler-11 Blue,.

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 Sandals Calvin Klein Udela Black Leather,Men's Football Cleat Nike Vapor Untouchable 698833-006,Womens Shoes Calvin Klein Madeline Cameo Rose Sheep Nappa/Patent,.

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 Calida Deep Navy Kid Suede/Patent,Men's Shoe Nike Metcon DSX Flyknit 852930-001,Womens Sandals CARLOS by Carlos Santana Glisten Turquoise,.

Nike Hydro Internet company Rakuten, based in Tokyo, has been actively recruiting foreign talent. (Photo by Yasunori Okamura)

Womens Boots Clarks Phenia Desert Black Nubuck,Men's Shoe Nike Train Speed 4 Amp (Duke) 844102-410,Womens Sandals Clarks Orient Sea White Leather,. 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 Vailee Pine Black Leather,Men's Shoe Nike Zoom Train Toranada 835657-001,Womens Shoes Clarks Corabeth Abby Champagne 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 Pipher Saddle,Men's Training Shoe Nike Free Trainer 3.0 V4 749361-075,Womens Shoes COACH Adrienne Black,.

Men's Sport Essentials Logo Tee 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 Training Shoe Nike Metcon 3 852928-001,Womens Sandals Cole Haan Jillian Wedge Optic White,.

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 Black/White Crackle,NIKE AIR HUARACHE Black/Fuchsia Flash/Game Royal/Bronzine,Womens Shoes Cole Haan Tali Luxe Smoking Slipper Wedge Black Velvet,, 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 Tabora 15 Strap Thong Black/Black,NIKE AIR TECH CHALLENGE II White/Liquid Lime/Black,Womens Shoes ECCO Golf Street EVO One Luxe White,.

Family ties

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

UK Sale Nike Free Powerlines II Womens Shoes Black Rosa 88ib6aAa 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 Plasmas Multi Floral,NIKE FLYKNIT ZOOM AGILITY Blue Lagoon/Hyper Grape/Polarized Blu,Womens Boots Naturalizer Lamont Wide Shaft Black Leather,, Care Port Itabashi.  

Womens Sandals Naturalizer Riley Black Leather,NIKE LUNAR TRAINER 1 Black/Volt/White,Womens Shoes Naturalizer Kana Black Leather,, 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. 

Wholesale UK Nike Kobe 9 2014 Jade Orange Mens Shoes poWSmjU4

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 1296v1 White/Blue,Nike Unisex Running Shoe Zoom Streak LT 2 599532-308,Womens Shoes New Balance Classics 574 - Core Plus Blue/Pink,.  

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 Free 5.0 TR Fit 5 PRT Black/Pink Pow/White/Metallic Silver,Women's Running Shoe Nike Flyknit Lunar 3 698182-603,Womens Shoes Nike Free 5.0 TR Fit 5 PRT Racer Blue/Black/White/Bright Crimson,. 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 Salome Beige,Women's Shoe Nike Air Max BW Ultra 819638-400,Unisex Shoes PUMA Match 74 White/Fern Green,."

Womens Shoes Reebok Yourflex Trainette 7.0 L MT Gravel/Black/White/Steel,

Subscribe to get unlimited access to all articles.

Womens Boots Rocket Dog Milford Chestnut Hush Fabric,Adidas D Lillard 2.0 Mens Gold/Dark Grey/Green Glow Basketball Shoes V55965,Womens Boots Sam Edelman Joey Steel Grey,
NAR site on phone, device, tablet

Womens Shoes Sam Edelman Lynn Snow White,

Subscribe to get unlimited access to all articles.

3 months for $9

Womens Shoes Saucony Triumph ISO Twilight/Oxygen/Citron,Adidas Cosmic Boost Mens Black/White/Solar Blue Running Shoes V36306,Womens Shoes Superga 2095 Fancotu Grafitti White/Black,
NAR site on phone, device, tablet

Your trial period has expired

You need a subscription to...

Womens Boots UGG Bailey Bow Exotic Scales Marine Blue Suede,Adidas Vigor Tr 6 Mens Light Grey/White/Solar Orange Running Shoes V61136,Womens Boots UGG Classic Mini Liberty Asphalt,

Your full access to the Nikkei Asian Review has expired

You need a subscription to:

Womens Slippers UGG Symona Serape Seal Jacquard,Adidas X 15.1 Fg/Ag Mens Solar Yellow/Frozen Yellow/Black Soccer Shoes V78162,Womens Sandals Vaneli Kinna Taupe Per Print/Gold Trims,
Womens Shoes Vaneli Winda Black E-Nappa/White Ferns Patent,Nike Air Max 2015 Mens Black/White/Black Running Shoes V33207,Womens Shoes Vaneli Neddy Tmoro Suede,
  • Men's Shoe Nike Zoom Mercurial Flyknit 844626-003
  • Spring Mens Slip On Flats Casual Loafers Moccasin Driving SportSoft Pump Shoes
  • Mens New Adidas Originals ZX 750 White Blue Yellow Nike USA TrainersOrder Online
  • Adidas Element Refine Tricot Men's Running Shoes Orange COMUK:3524
  • Nike Vapor Carbon 2014 Elite Td - Men'S - Football - Shoes - Washington Redskins - Team Red/White/University Gold
  • Women's Nike Air Max 2014 Shoes Pink Orange Black
  • Discount Sale 2015 Nike Free Flyknit 4.0 Womens Running Shoes Newest On Sale Couples Sneaker Black White Gray In the UK online
  • Discount Authentic 315371-805 Womens Nike Air Jordan Spizike Shoes New York Knicks - Orange Flash/Blue Ribbon-Black-White
  • Asics Women Hypersprint Green Silver 6 Track Shoes Colour Onyx Flash
  • Womens Training Shoes Adidas Originals ZX 700 Contemp Light Grey Navy Blue Pink Green
  • Discount Columbia Redmond Waterproof Walking Shoes Taupe For Men Sale
  • Real Cheap adidas EQT Support 93/17 Turbo Red
  • 2017 Online Nike Shoes Shopping Men's Nike Roshe One Hyperfuse Grey Shoes Canada YJC2603456
  • Cheap Nike Air Max 2017 Shoes Orange Red Mens
  • Nike Lebron wholesale 12 Dunkman Men LeBron 12 shoe unveiling Nike and LeBron James Best by the Lowest price Nike LeBron James Best 12 All Star
  • Men's - Air Jordan Flight Club 91 Matte Silver / Grand Purple-Night Storm Shoes
  • Adidasi Alergare Nike Air Zoom Terra Kiger 3 Dama Negrii/Gri (199563QHS)
  • MEN'S NIKE VAPOR CARBON ELITE 2014 TD White/Deep Forest
  • adidas Barricade 2017 clay Black - Mens - Size
  • Nike Mens Shoes / Total Orange Lyn Blue White Boys Shoes Nike Zoom Rival S 7 SH23J65e1h