Nike Stefan Janoski Max Trainer CP4839 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

Womens Shoes New Balance WW928 Hook-and-Loop White/Hook & Loop,Y3 Response TR Boost CP5121,Womens Shoes New Balance C696v2 - Tennis Sea Glass,. 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, Womens Shoes New Balance Classics WL574 - Luau Collection Purple/Orange/Textile,Birkenstock Womens Gizeh EVA Sandal CP5212,Womens Shoes Nike Classic Cortez BR Wolf Grey/Cool Grey/White,.

"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, Womens Shoes Nike Flex Flury Game Royal/Green Glow/Menta/White,Unisex Shoes adidas SE Daily Vulc Navy/Light Onix/White,Womens Shoes Nike Flex Supreme TR4 Bright Mango/Bright Crimson/White/Squadron Blue,, 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. Womens Sandals PATRIZIA Tosia Gold,Womens Shoes adidas Duramo 7 Night Flash/Night Metallic/Solar Yellow,Womens Sandals PATRIZIA Kochi White,. Like other industries in a rapidly aging Japan, the construction business is desperate for labor. Womens Shoes PUMA Pulse XT Geo Blue Coral/Sulphur Spring,Womens Shoes adidas BBNEO Raleigh Mid White/White/White,Womens Shoes Reebok Royal CL Jogger 2 Collegiate Navy/Exotic Teal/Fearless Pink/Steel/Black/White,. As baby boomers retire, the labor shortage -- in construction and in the wider economy -- is bound to become more acute.

Inexpensive 243697 Nike Air Force 1 Women Red 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, Womens Boots Rocket Dog Gretta Black Oliver,Womens Shoes adidas Running Kanadia TR 7 Night Flash/Black/Light Flash Purple,Womens Sandals Rocket Dog Padley Gold Trunk,, 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 Boots Sam Edelman Madge Steel Grey,Womens Boots Aerosoles Outrider Brown Fabric,Womens Shoes Sam Edelman Ola Bistro,, Japan is in the midst of a quiet revolution when it comes to immigrant workers. Womens Shoes Sam Edelman Delilah Black Leather,Womens Sandals Aerosoles Power Of Love Tan,Womens Shoes Saucony Lancer Blue/Yellow,.

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 Shoes Supra Vaider Black/White/Print,Womens Sandals Aerosoles Water Power White,Womens Boots UGG Bailey Bow Grey Twinface,.

Shopping 156516 Nike Free 3.0 Women Dark Mica Green Red Violet White Shoes

Immigration remains a politically charged issue in Japan, Womens Boots UGG Patten Chestnut Leather,Womens Sandals Aerosoles Scone Nude Patent,Womens Boots UGG Darth Vader Classic Short Crystal Black,. "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 Slippers UGG Leopard Slide Chestnut Leopard/Sheepskin,Womens Shoes Aerosoles Deluxe Bone,Womens Sandals Vaneli Tallis Black Miniliz Print,."

Shopping 202148 Nike Free Tr Fit 4 Women White Fusion Pink Mango Base 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 Sandals Vaneli Kelsa Black Naif Print,Womens Boots ALDO Willa Black Leather,Womens Shoes Vaneli Udara Black Ecco Suede/Mtch Elastic,. 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 Vaneli Darcy Black Suede/Matching Elastic,Womens Sandals ALDO Lidia Tan,Unisex Shoes Vans SK8-Hi Slim Zip (Snake) Tan,, like all other countries, does have racist problems, but hate crime and hate speech are relatively Women’s Halterneck Bikini,Womens Shoes ALDO Okelani White,Nike Modern Fit Washed,," 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.

Adidas Bounce Titan VII Men Coupon_087

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

STYLE Bomber Jacket,Womens Boots Anne Klein Kahlan Wide Dark Brown Multi Wide Leather,Men's Trefoil Tee,, and 60% are 65 or older. Most of their children have left for the city in search of better-paying office work.

Golf Tailored Rib Polo,Womens Sandals Anne Klein Taree Black Multi Fabric,Nike Dri-FIT Cool,, 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.

Adidas Springblade 2013 Men Coupon_268 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, Men's Belgium Anthem Jacket,Womens Shoes Anne Klein Fion Black Suede,Women’s Boyfriend Sweater,, where the temperature can reach 40 C in summer.

NikeCourt Premier RF,Womens Shoes Anne Klein 7Alwaysnice Black Multi Fabric,Youth Tiberio Track Suit,. He speaks basic Japanese, which he picked up watching anime series such as "One Piece" and "Detective Conan."

Various Sizes Nike Air Griffey Max 1 Basketball Shoes in yujmsBKt,Womens Shoes Badgley Mischka Seneca Latte Satin,Wholesale UK Nike Roshe Run NM BR Coal Black White Sails Noctilucent Shoes Nike Roshe Run NM Breeze For Men a79Czz7L,," 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.

Authentic 9r5bh ch8yd4 August Deals Nike Roshe Run Womens,Womens Shoes Badgley Mischka Amber White Satin,Authentic pq6by 6zbxe6 August Deals Nike Air Max Thea Womens,.

Christian Louboutin Sale Women Coupon_473 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."

Buy 52k98 fq34d4 August Deals Nike Air Max 90 Womens Orange,Womens Sandals C Label Rollin-14 Fuchsia,Buy i5dt5 pmd823 August Deals ZX Flux Mens,.

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.

Cheap 59exn 4y8sdm August Deals Nike Air Max 2015 Womens,Womens Boots Calvin Klein Keana Evergreen Leather,Cheap ine75 b34yt5 August Deals Nike Air Presto Womens,.

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

Discount 2irtb mccqgg August Deals Nike Air Max Thea Womens,Womens Boots Calvin Klein Jeans Tanya Black/Natural,Discount hgxqp gm7utg August Deals Nike Air Max 1 Ultra Moire 1 Womens,.

Jimmy Choo Bridal Women Coupon_726 Internet company Rakuten, based in Tokyo, has been actively recruiting foreign talent. (Photo by Yasunori Okamura)

Discount zxpwx chb2et August Deals Nike Air Presto Womens,Womens Sandals Calvin Klein Collection Urma Black/White Bis Radiatta Snake,Online haqp5 pzpxcz August Deals Nike Air Max 90 Mens Black,. 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,Outlet 2qifa ngmaii August Deals Nike Air Max 2016 Womens,Womens Shoes Calvin Klein Lucette Dusty Pink Patent Leather,Outlet ib9g2 wmqyrg August Deals Nike Air Max 2015 Womens,, 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, Sale 93utm wzh5qh August Deals Nike Air Max 90 Womens,Womens Shoes Calvin Klein Gayle Dark Red Kid Suede,Sale min37 rw8vrg August Deals Nike Air Max 90 Womens,.

Jimmy Choo Wedges Women Coupon_917 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. UK 7s3gw fg8kyw August Deals Nike Air Huarache Womens,Womens Shoes Calvin Klein Karel Cocoon/Black Haircalf/Leather,UK yhqab 5t9224 August Deals Nike Air Max 90 Womens,.

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. Authentic 169011 Adidas Climacool Ride Men Black Fluorescent Green Shoes,Womens Boots CARLOS by Carlos Santana Emily Taupe,Discount 151294 Air Jordan 11Lab4 Men Black/Black White Shoes,, 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," Comfortable 197690 Air Jordan Retro 6 Men Black Red Blue Shoes,Womens Sandals CARLOS by Carlos Santana Justa Leopard,Inexpensive 158895 New Balance Classics Ml402 Men Light Blue Shoes,.

Family ties

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

New Balance 500 Men Coupon_1119 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, Inexpensive 155596 New Balance Mc696 Men White Silver Shoes,Womens Boots Clarks Morela Liza Khaki Leather,Discount 190268 Nike Air Force 1 Men Charles Barkley White Gold Navy Shoes,, Care Port Itabashi.  

Comfortable 148166 Nike Air Max Men Black Shoes,Womens Sandals Clarks Playful Tunes Gold Leather,Shopping 157828 Nike Air Max Men Gray Blue Shoes,, 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. 

New Balance Women Coupon_1366

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. Comfortable 197075 Nike Air Max 90 Men White Pink Shoes,Womens Sandals Clarks InMotion Sail White,Discount 164387 Nike Air Max Classic Sl Men White Black Shoes,.  

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, Cheap 185798 Nike Air Max Ltd II Men White Grey Shoes,Womens Shoes Clarks Concert Band Burgundy Patent,Inexpensive 208040 Nike Blazer High Men Brown Beige White Shoes,. 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," Discount 212126 Nike Dunk High Men Attack Pack Shoes,Womens Shoes Clarks Kadri Leah Burgundy Leather,Cheap 218128 Nike Dunk Low Men Shoes,."

Authentic 221999 Nike Free 4.0 V2 Men Red White Shoes,

Subscribe to get unlimited access to all articles.

Buy 190605 Nike Free Tr Fit Men Gray White Green Shoes,Womens Shoes Cole Haan Zerogrand Slip-On Sneaker Silver Mesh/Vapor Grey/Sunray,Inexpensive 154339 Nike Lunar Rejuven8 Mid Men Grey Red White Shoes,
NAR site on phone, device, tablet

Shopping 208316 Nike Roshe Run Men Silver Grey White Shoes,

Subscribe to get unlimited access to all articles.

3 months for $9

Discount 229699 Nike Shox Nz 2.0 Men White Pink Shoes,Womens Shoes Cole Haan Neara Pump Black Perf,Shopping 170720 Nike Shox R4 Men White Gold Shoes,
NAR site on phone, device, tablet

Your trial period has expired

You need a subscription to...

Shopping 147481 Nike Shox R5 Men Black Shoes,Womens Boots ECCO Sullivan Tall Boot Black,Shopping 150453 Nike Zoom Kobe VI Men Silver White Shoes,

Your full access to the Nikkei Asian Review has expired

You need a subscription to:

Authentic 226999 Onitsuka Tiger By Asics Mexico 66 Men White Blue Shoes,Womens Sandals ECCO Sport Cruise Strap Sandal Dark Shadow/Coral,Authentic 217205 Nike Roshe Run Unisex Black Floral Print Shoes,
Shopping 242921 Adidas Originals ZX 700 Women Black White Fade Rose Shoes,Womens Shoes ECCO Touch 50 Pump Black/Black,Authentic 157177 Nike Air Force 1 Women White Blue Shoes,
  • Womens Shoes C Label Tavi-1 Black
  • Nike Cortez Ultra Breathe Pure Platinum / White Shoes for Men : NO0737
  • Zalora / Basic Contrast Ballerinas / Grey/Black
  • Women's Nike Equilibrium Modern Tempo - Running Shorts VC164777h
  • Cheap Sale Running Shoes - Womens Under Armour Engage BL Metallic Silver/White/Fire
  • Casadei Womens Ankle Boots Sand
  • Jordan Spizike Crew Socks Mens Basketball Accessories Gym Red/Black A14c7030 Outlet Online Shop
  • Adidas Baseball Energy Boost Icon Cleats Collegiate Royal Tech Grey Metallic Solar Blue For Men
  • Curry 2 Kids Shoes Gray Rainmaker Storm
  • Top Quality Mens Pier One Lace-Ups Cognac
  • Nike LeBron 14 Crazy Colored Used
  • Air Force LOW-0001
  • Buy - NHL Vancouver Canucks Alexandre Burrows #14 W 40th Anniversary Lauthentic jerseys nflnfl jerseys for sale new yorkonline leading retailer
  • Pro kanye Adidas Yeezy350 Buy Boost low stores Gray
  • Nike Air Force 1 Low Mens Trainers Canvas Donker Green
  • Discount Air Jordan 11 Men Nike Air Jordans Retro 11 Nike Air Jordans Retro 11 Deals Air Jordan Low 11 on eBay Find Air Jordan Low 11 for less
  • Boots Women Dolce Vita Keiton Chelsea Boot Beige Top Quality
  • Air Max LTD Womens Shoes White Blue Yellow
  • Women Pataugas Authentique Jcdc Cloud Trainers - Rubber - Rouge - 498933um
  • San Antonio Shoe Womens Shoes / White Shoes SAS Sanibel Thong Sandals RG235166v10