Nike Free 4.0 Flyknit 2015 Mens Blue Lagoon/Glacier Ice/Volt/Black Running Shoes V39849 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

Hugo Boss Spacito Trainer CP4481,Antony Morato Poly Mix Full Zip Hooded Top CP964New Balance CRT300 Trainer CP4562,. 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 Safari Trainer CP4584,Antony Morato Overhead Raglan Hooded Top CP975Nike Stefan Janoski Canvas Dots Trainer CP4612,.

"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 Air Force 1 '07 Suede Trainer CP4743,Converse Core Overhead Hooded Top CP996Nike Flystepper 2K3 Trainer CP4813,, 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 Roshe LD-1000 Trainer CP4880,Condemned Nation Hazuki Pique Hooded Top CP978Ralph Lauren Polo Klinger NE Trainer CP4935,. Like other industries in a rapidly aging Japan, the construction business is desperate for labor. Supra Noiz Trainer CP5038,Converse Core Plus Full Zip Hooded Top CP999Vans Old Skool T&L Trainer CP5100,. As baby boomers retire, the labor shortage -- in construction and in the wider economy -- is bound to become more acute.

Womens Boots Vaneli Aurie Black Ecco Suede/Black Stretch 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, Y3 Qasa High Trainer CP5125,Creative Recreation Vermont Zip Hooded Top CP1002Birkenstock Womens Gizeh Sandal CP5218,, 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 Sandals adidas Anyanda Flex Slide Flash Pink/White/Silver Metallic,EA7 Train Visibility Full Zip Hooded Top CP1043Womens Shoes adidas Fresh Bounce Famous White/Shock Pink,, Japan is in the midst of a quiet revolution when it comes to immigrant workers. Unisex Shoes adidas by Raf Simons Simons Response Trail Robot Silver Metallic/Matte Silver/Iron Meta,Creative Recreation Grandall Full Zip Hooded Top CP1017Womens Boots Aerosoles Wise N Shine Dark Brown Combo,.

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 Aerosoles A2 by Aerosoles Wipline Dark Tan Combo,Ellesse Gorio Poly Tape Full Zip Hooded Top CP1057Womens Sandals Aerosoles Cherry Plush Light Tan,.

Womens Sandals Vaneli Weezy Pewter Pearl Nappa/Pewter Beads/Gunmetal Buckle

Immigration remains a politically charged issue in Japan, Womens Shoes Aerosoles A2 by Aerosoles Lollipowp Black,EA7 7 Lines Full Zip Hooded Top CP1042Womens Shoes Aerosoles Snapjack Grey,. "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 Boots ALDO Yvesa Black Leather,Hype Neptune Full Zip Hooded Top CP1075Womens Shoes ALDO Passarello Silver,."

Womens Shoes Vaneli Laureen White 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 ALDO Aceidia-U Fuchsia,Good For Nothing Raglan Print Overhead Hooded Top CP1070Womens Sandals Anne Klein Viewer Gold Snake,. 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 Shoes Anne Klein AKSport Staycalm Pewter,Nike Zoom Fly 2 Womens Chalk Blue/Racer Blue/Black Running Shoes V43857Womens Shoes Anne Klein Barb Black Synthetic,, like all other countries, does have racist problems, but hate crime and hate speech are relatively Womens Shoes Badgley Mischka Kallan Beige Leather,Nike AW77 Shoebox Full Zip Hooded Top CP1126Womens Shoes Badgley Mischka Scarlett Ivory Satin/Chiffon,," 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 Vaneli Bahia Black Metal

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 Sandals C Label Mollini-25 Black,Original Penguin Maple Hooded Top CP1139Womens Shoes C Label Dainty - 30 Camel,, and 60% are 65 or older. Most of their children have left for the city in search of better-paying office work.

Womens Boots Calvin Klein Cilil Black Leather,Publish The Mason Hooded Top CP1142Womens Sandals Calvin Klein Ulie Dark Cherry,, 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.

Unisex Shoes Vans SK8-Hi MTE (MTE) Black/Leather 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 Calvin Klein Gerarda Black Patent,Antony Morato Driver Jacket CP1205Womens Shoes Calvin Klein Calayla Navy Leather,, where the temperature can reach 40 C in summer.

Womens Shoes Calvin Klein Day Indigo Lux Snake Print Leather,Antony Morato Chevron Quilt Puffer Jacket CP1212Womens Boots CARLOS by Carlos Santana Helene Black,. He speaks basic Japanese, which he picked up watching anime series such as "One Piece" and "Detective Conan."

Womens Boots Clarks Kacia Garnet Black Leather/Navy Suede,Bellfield Sully Borg Puffer Jacket CP1247Womens Boots Clarks Marlina Ramble Black Nubuck 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 Sandals Clarks Caslynn Dez Nude Patent Leather,Bellfield Campbell Puffer Jacket CP1232Womens Sandals Clarks Brinkley Jazz Pink Camo,.

Nike Elite Reveal Performance 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 Clarks Daelyn Villa Black Leather,Condemned Nation Gaston Coated Mac Jacket CP1297Womens Shoes Clarks Haley Skylar Grey Nubuck,.

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 COACH Samara Fatigue/Fatigue/Aniline Leather/Nylon,Condemned Nation Palmero Puffer Jacket CP1291Womens Sandals COACH Camara Gold Matte Mirror Metallic,.

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 COACH May Black,Duck & Cover Beagle Jacket CP1346Womens Shoes COACH Ray Khaki/Chestnut,.

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

Womens Boots Cole Haan Hayden Bootie Black,Ellesse Trevisina Hooded Rain Mac CP1363Womens Sandals Cole Haan Cameron Sandal Sequoia,. 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 Cole Haan Magnolia Skimmer Sandstone Embossed Patent,Good For Nothing Belmont Long Puffer Jacket CP1399Womens Shoes Cole Haan Cyro Sandal Black/Optic White Snake Print,, 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 Cole Haan Antonia Open Toe Pump Silver/Gunmetal Glitter/Dark Silver Metallic,Native Youth Curved Hem Varsity Jacket CP1455Womens Boots ECCO Abelone Tall Boot Coffee/Coffee,.

Nike Aeroloft Tech 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 Sandals ECCO Touch 45 T-Strap Sandal Black/Black,Native Youth Duffle Coat CP1451Womens Shoes ECCO Touch 15 Buckle Black/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 ECCO Sport Biom Ultra Quest Plus Warm Grey/Warm Grey/Fanfare Synthetic/Yabuck/Decoratio,Nike Alliance 550 Puffer Parka Jacket CP1478Womens Shoes GUESS Beccy Black Lace,, 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 GUESS Laceyy Beige/Light Brown Fabric,UCLA Pattern Puffer Jacket CP1544Womens Boots Naturalizer Quintana Black Leather,.

Family ties

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

Men's Quilted Jacket 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 Sandals Naturalizer Subtle Black Leather/Shiny,Condemned Nation Matra Jogger CP1610Womens Shoes Naturalizer Valerie Black,, Care Port Itabashi.  

Womens Shoes New Balance WX813v3 Dark Denim,Franklin & Marshall Small Logo Knit Jumper CP1799Womens Shoes New Balance X20v4 - Training Blue/Pink,, 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. 

Italia Polo

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 Nike Unify Strike Metal Black/White/Neon Yellow,Jack & Jones Detroit Waffle Knit Jumper CP1819Womens Shoes Nike Free 5.0 TR Fit 5 PRT Black/Lava Glow/White,.  

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 Print Blue Lagoon/Green Glow/White/Black,Brave Soul Ancoats Cargo Short CP2097Womens Shoes Nike FS Lite Run 3 Ocean Fog/Squadron Blue/White/Fierce Purple,. 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 Majes Beige,Ellesse Cassano Running Short CP2124Womens Shoes PATRIZIA Grandview Gold,."

Womens Shoes PUMA Narita v3 Knit Italian Plum/Black/Italian Plum,

Subscribe to get unlimited access to all articles.

Womens Shoes Reebok Crossfit Lite Tr Poly Flux Orange/Porcelain/Rebel Berry,Birkenstock Arizona Sandal CP3820Womens Sandals Rocket Dog Kaplan Natural Rio,
NAR site on phone, device, tablet

Womens Shoes Rocket Dog Jiggy Natural Solvang,

Subscribe to get unlimited access to all articles.

3 months for $9

Womens Sandals Sam Edelman Reid New Nude Leopard,Clae Strayhorn Unlined Shoe CP3879Womens Shoes Sam Edelman Dea Black Patent,
NAR site on phone, device, tablet

Your trial period has expired

You need a subscription to...

Womens Shoes Saucony Mystic Grey/Blue/Aqua,Toms Paseo Shoe CP3939Womens Shoes Saucony Mystic Fuchsia/Coral,

Your full access to the Nikkei Asian Review has expired

You need a subscription to:

Womens Shoes Timberland Ellsworth 6" Ballerina Wheat Nubuck,adidas Originals Racer Lite Trainer CP3970Womens Boots UGG Maaverik Lodge Leather,
Womens Boots UGG Classic Short Serape Sunset Red Twinface,adidas Originals Energy Boost ESM Trainer CP4050Womens Shoes UGG Karlina Geo Perf Black Suede,
  • adidas Originals Premium Essentials Hooded Top CP941
  • Nike AS Air Jordan 23/7 Full Zip Fleece Hoody Jacket Purple
  • 2017 Nike Kobe AD Hyper Crimson University Red Black Kobe Shoes 2017
  • Adidas Superstar II Women Gray Pink Shoes
  • Men Trainers Ellesse Canvas Plimsolls With Strap in Camo
  • Discounts Terry De Haviland Lightning Bolt Magenta Sandals For Women Outlet
  • Comments KARDINALE Crystal Embellished Suede - White Men's Loafers - 72SR714
  • BEST Converse All Star Ox turquoise
  • Hot Sale - Shoes Converse - All Star Hi Chuck Taylor Glitter Nero Tacco 553138C Y100z7941
  • Discount Mens BOSS Green Gym Trainers Shoes Black
  • DUNE - Tyrell leather boots Tan leather IQQMRE
  • Man Max 90-0928
  • Shop Cheap adidas D Rose 7 CNY Chinese New Year Black Red White
  • Throwback White Premier Customized Men Reebok Buffalo Bills Finest Craftsmanship 365 Days Return Unique designing Jersey Cheap Price
  • Nike Air Max 95 360 Wire Drawing Men Running Shoes Yellow Black
  • Hugo Boss Gray Dresma Monk Shoeso SNF617503
  • 1785 Clearance Nike Air Huarache Classic Men Black Snake Shoes
  • Nike KO Chain Fleece (NFL Lions) 597463-060 Anthracite/White
  • Nike Air More Uptempo OLYMPIC Womens
  • Nike Air Max Thea Ultra SI (G21l3868) - Oatmeal Ivory Metallic Silver - Nike Women Shoes Online
  • adidas Originals Los Angeles Trainer CP4092