Shopping 183217 Nike Air Max Ltd II Men White Black Blue Shoes 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

Men's Shoe Nike Air Zoom Odyssey 749338-401,Inexpensive 243364 Nike Dunk High Men Shoes,Men's Shoe Nike Hypershift 844369-606,. 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, Men's Shoe Nike Tennis Classic Ultra Premium 830699-002,Buy 214168 Nike Dunk Low Men Red Black Blue Navy Shoes,Men's Shoe NikeLab Gyakusou LunarEpic Low Flyknit 2 880283-001,.

"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 HUARACHE White/Black/Cool Grey/Wolf Grey,Comfortable 201273 Nike Free 3.0 Suede Men Blue White Shoes,NIKE BLAZER MID SUEDE VINTAGE Black/Wolf Grey/Sail,, 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 LUNARTEMPO Blue Lagoon/Black/White/Bright Crimson,Inexpensive 236787 Nike Free 4.0 Flyknit Men Grey Blue Shoes,Women's Running Shoe Nike Flyknit Lunar 3 698182-603,. Like other industries in a rapidly aging Japan, the construction business is desperate for labor. Women's Shoe Nike Air Zoom Elite 8 748589-600,Cheap 185773 Nike Free 5.0 V4 Men Brown Black White Shoes,Women's Shoe Nike Roshe Two Flyknit 844929-001,. As baby boomers retire, the labor shortage -- in construction and in the wider economy -- is bound to become more acute.

Womens Shoes Vaneli Marga Black Suede/Black Nappa 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, Adidas D Rose 773 Iii Boys Preschool Black/White Basketball Shoes V30580,Inexpensive 150401 Nike Free Run 2 Men White Grey Peach Cream Shoes,Adidas Messi 15.3 In Boys Grade School Matte Ice Metallic/Bright Yellow/Black Soccer Shoes V63188,, 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 Free 5.0 2015 Girls Grade School White/Chalk Blue/Volt/White/Bright Mango Running Shoes V90102,Discount 171729 Nike Lebron 10 Men Black Red Shoes,Adidas D Rose 773 4 Mens Navy/Black/White Basketball Shoes V65585,, Japan is in the midst of a quiet revolution when it comes to immigrant workers. Adidas Pure Boost Mens White/Black/Clear Grey/City Blur Running Shoes V87433,Comfortable 223094 Nike Lebron 8 Men Black Pink Filament Green Shoes,Adidas X 15.1 Leather Fg/Ag Mens Solar Yellow/Frozen Yellow/Black Soccer Shoes V78202,.

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, Nike Air Max 95 Mens White/Emerald Green/Court Blue/New Slate Running Shoes V91043,Discount 214749 Nike Lunarfly Men Black Blue White Shoes,Nike Fs Lite Run 2 Mens Dark Magnet Grey/White/Black Running Shoes V51289,.

Womens Shoes Vaneli Baldy Black Perf Suede/Match Stones

Immigration remains a politically charged issue in Japan, Adidas Anyanda Flex Womens Black/White/Silver Metallic Flip Flops V36102,Comfortable 188663 Nike Lunarfly Men Black Gray Red Shoes,Adidas Anyanda Flex Womens Solid Grey/Raw Purple/Clear Onix Slippers V78764,. "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 Air Max 2016 Womens Pink Blast/Laser Orange/White/Black Running Shoes V68763,Cheap 169540 Nike Roshe Run Men Green Black Shoes,Nike Free 5.0 V4 Womens Black/Cool Grey/Wolf Grey/Anthracite Running Shoes V15954,."

Nike Three-Quarter 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.Nike Zoom Elite 8 Womens Black/Sail/Ghost Green/Voltage Green Running Shoes V25407,Buy 157721 Nike Shox Nz Men White Gold Shoes,Men's Nike SB Lunar Oneshot Volt/Black UK#N5-9485,. 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.

"Women's Nike Flex 2015 RN Flash Noble Purple/Vivid Purple/Hyper Orange/Metallic Silver UK#N5-9509,Inexpensive 176242 Nike Shox O Leven Men White Shoes,Mr Lacy Junior Flat Lace CP364,, like all other countries, does have racist problems, but hate crime and hate speech are relatively Creative Recreation Junior Kaplan Mesh Trainer CP598,Inexpensive 180227 Nike Shox R2 Men White Purple Shoes,Creative Recreation Nursery Cesario Low XVI Patent Ripstop Trainer CP762,," 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 Tech Fleece Pullover

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

Condemned Nation Beccles Hooded Top CP983,Cheap 187382 Nike Shox R4 Men White Shoes,The North Face Open Gate Full Zip Hooded Top CP1155,, and 60% are 65 or older. Most of their children have left for the city in search of better-paying office work.

Condemned Nation Merco PU Biker Jacket CP1301,Comfortable 194537 Nike Shox R5 Men Black Red Shoes,Only & Sons Nylon Sleeve Bomber Jacket CP1486,, 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.

Women's Firebird Track Jacket 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, Brave Soul Conway Skinny Denim Short CP2093,Buy 200423 Nike Zoom Hyperfuse Men Black Red White Shoes,11 Degrees Allover Lotus Swim Short CP2279,, where the temperature can reach 40 C in summer.

Clarks Originals Desert Boot CP3735,Shopping 147101 Nike Zoom Kobe V Men Yellow Black Purple Shoes,adidas Originals Superstar II Trainer CP3944,. He speaks basic Japanese, which he picked up watching anime series such as "One Piece" and "Detective Conan."

adidas Originals Los Angeles Trainer CP4110,Shopping 237768 Nike Zoom Kobe VIi Men Black Yellow Purple Shoes,Converse Fulton Mix Quilted Leather QS Trainer CP4307,," 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.

Fred Perry Spencer Trainer CP4452,Buy 151174 Onitsuka Tiger By Asics Gellyte III Men White Shoes,Nike Air Huarache Trainer CP4658,.

Nike 3 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."

Nike Jordan Flight Trainer CP4796,Comfortable 223351 Adidas ZX 750 Unisex Camouflage Green Shoes,Reebok Furylite 'Jetsetter' Trainer CP4995,.

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.

Toms Womens Canvas Classic Espadrille CP5200,Shopping 164543 Nike Roshe Run Unisex Red Carbon Black White Shoes,Womens Shoes adidas Cloudfoam Xpression Multi Color/Black,.

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 Boots Aerosoles In An Instint Dark Tan Combo,Comfortable 229714 Adidas ZX 700 Women Purple Shoes,Womens Shoes Aerosoles Wise Guy Black Patent,.

Men's Russia Graphic Tee Internet company Rakuten, based in Tokyo, has been actively recruiting foreign talent. (Photo by Yasunori Okamura)

Womens Boots ALDO Bove Black,Discount 202374 Air Jordan 11 Retro Women White /White Citrus Shoes,Womens Sandals Anne Klein AK Sport - Kachine Navy FB,. 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 Anne Klein Ardmore Tweed,Authentic 160391 New Balance W1540 Women Black Shoes,Womens Shoes Badgley Mischka Scarlett Berry Satin/Chiffon,, 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 C Label Dopey-1 Black,Authentic 215868 Nike Air Force 1 Women Pink White Light Lava Shoes,Womens Sandals Calvin Klein Bertha Ematite/Winter Taupe Metallic Box/Leather,.

Nike Water Polo Solid High Neck 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 Shoes Calvin Klein Patna Shadow Grey/Black Hair Calf/Leather,Inexpensive 237356 Nike Air Max 90 Women Red White Shoes,Womens Sandals CARLOS by Carlos Santana Kiara 2 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 Sandals Clarks Daisy Harp Greystone Synthetic,Discount 166231 Nike Classic Cortez Nylon Prm Women Silver White Black Shoes,Womens Sandals Clarks Helio Lilly Black,, 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 Clarks Bavette Cathy Burgundy,Authentic 226430 Nike Flyknit Roshe Run Women Shoes,Womens Sandals COACH Gemma Silver Mirror Metallic/Woven Matte Calf,.

Family ties

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

Nike Dri-FIT Fleece Full-Zip 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 COACH Olive Black Pebble Grain Leather,Inexpensive 227778 Nike Free Run Women Grey Purple Shoes,Womens Sandals Cole Haan Margate Wedge II New Bronze,, Care Port Itabashi.  

Womens Shoes Cole Haan Cary CH Argento Metallic,Discount 224858 Nike Lunarglide 3 Women Anthracite Blue Black Red Shoes,Womens Shoes Cole Haan Fair Haven Pump Ocelot Haircalf,, 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 Trade Nike Air Max 90 Hyperfuse QS Mens Shoes White Blue Orange ZltjtbuS

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 ECCO Babett Clog Strap Black,Adidas Bounce Titan 2013 Men Coupon_043,Womens Boots GUESS Daris Black Suede,.  

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 Boots Hunter Original Patent Pac Boot Bright Peacock,Adidas Originals JS Men Coupon_128,Womens Sandals Naturalizer Nerice Pale Ivory Leather,. 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 Shoes Naturalizer Joana Paprika Red Suede,Adidas Bounce Titan VI Women Coupon_302,Womens Shoes New Balance X20v4 - Training White/Pink,."

Womens Shoes Nike Match Supreme Print Black/White/University Red,

Subscribe to get unlimited access to all articles.

Womens Shoes Nike Lunarglide 7 Sail/Chalk Blue/Pure Platinum/Black,New Balance Women Coupon_1385,Womens Sandals PATRIZIA Inalei Black Patent,
NAR site on phone, device, tablet

Womens Shoes PUMA evoSPEED 4.4 IT Sulphur Spring/Total Eclipse/Electric Blue Lemonade,

Subscribe to get unlimited access to all articles.

3 months for $9

Womens Boots Rocket Dog Sugardaddy Charcoal Suede,New Balance 574 Women Coupon_1479,Womens Shoes Rocket Dog Campo Black Quest,
NAR site on phone, device, tablet

Your trial period has expired

You need a subscription to...

Womens Shoes Sam Edelman Delilah Black Marble,Nike Kevin Durant Men Coupon_1719,Womens Shoes Saucony Kinvara 6 Black/White,

Your full access to the Nikkei Asian Review has expired

You need a subscription to:

Womens Boots Timberland Timberland Authentics Open Weave 6" Boot Wheat Nubuck with Tan Weave,Nike Kevin Durant War Boots Men Coupon_1762,Womens Boots UGG Sequoia Chestnut Leather,
Womens Shoes UGG Tomi Chestnut Leather 1,Men's Basketball Shoe Kobe XI Elite 822675-105,Womens Sandals Vaneli Blisse Black,
  • Buy 185602 Nike Shox R5 Men White Brown Shoes
  • Nike Jordan CP3.VI White/Sport Red-Black-Game Royal Sneakers 3126452
  • Price Cuts Adidas ACE 16.3 Primemesh Indoor Football Shoes White Black Gold N94x4589
  • Nike Air Force 1 Men Shoes European Tuxedo /Nike Jordan [ N535]
  • Men's - Binary Blue Thunder Blue 9DQ7862 - Nike Dri-FIT 7" Flex Challenger Shorts - Running - Clothing
  • Nike Sb Mens Sneakers Black/Gum Light Brown/Light Ash Grey
  • Best-selling MARSELL Wrinkled Soft Leather Cropped - Black men's Boots - 91FW940
  • Nike Mayfly Red
  • Mens Nike Air Jordan Aero Mania White Black Shoe Wholesale Price
  • Mens Merrell Trianers - All Out Blazer Moc - Black Item M0695
  • Asics Women'S Gel-Kayano 21 Running Shoe - "Grey"
  • Hot Nike Zoom Fly 2 Running Shoes Womens Blue/Black 911367TK
  • Outlet Nike Primo Mid Winter Trainers Shoes Womens Black/Black/Gry 897607LS
  • UK Class quality - Adidas Supernova Sequence 5 Grey Red Shoes
  • Online For Sale Nike KD 6 VI Elite Photo Blue/Team Orange-Silver
  • Men's - Nike Kobe IX Elite Perspective Neo Turquoise / Volt Shoes
  • Athletic Men ASICS GEL-Sendai 2 Performance Running Shoe - Mens Yellow/Red/Black New work
  • Nike Shox R5 Men Shoes Black Red
  • NFL Pittsburgh Steelers Game Jersey (Heath Miller) 468972-014 Black
  • Nike Zoom Custom Kobe Venomenon 5 EP Black Best Deals Gold 749884 008 For Bryant