Shopping 244083 Nike Lunarglide 3 Men Black Yellow 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

New Balance 996 Men Coupon_1331,Cheap 180120 Nike Classic Cortez Nylon Women Fluorescent Green Red ShoesNew Balance Women Coupon_1389,. 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, New Balance 420 Women Coupon_1421,Discount 172270 Nike Classic Cortez Nylon Women Red White Blue ShoesNike Derrick Rose Men Coupon_1596,.

"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 Derrick Rose Men Coupon_1657,Cheap 242101 Nike Air Max 1 Women White Yellow Red ShoesNike Kevin Durant Men Coupon_1720,, 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 Kevin Durant Men Coupon_1723,Shopping 165048 Nike Classic Cortez Nylon Qs Aloha Women Black ShoesNike LeBron James Men Coupon_1885,. Like other industries in a rapidly aging Japan, the construction business is desperate for labor. JORDAN SUPER.FLY 3 Wolf Grey/Cool Grey/White,Comfortable 173032 Nike Classic Cortez Nylon Rose Women Rose Red ShoesMen's Basketball Shoe LeBron XIII Low 831925-416,. As baby boomers retire, the labor shortage -- in construction and in the wider economy -- is bound to become more acute.

Ralph Lauren Polo Jermain Trainer CP4953 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, Men's Firm-Ground Soccer Cleat Nike Magista Orden FG 651329-807,Cheap 171649 Nike Dunk High Women ShoesMen's Golf Shoe (Wide) Nike Lunar Fire 861458-100,, 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.

MEN'S NIKE AIR MAX 2015 698902-020,Shopping 205744 Nike Dunk High Women White Chocolate Pink ShoesMEN'S NIKE FREE TRAINER 3.0 V4 749361-010,, Japan is in the midst of a quiet revolution when it comes to immigrant workers. Men's Nike Shoe Jordan Westbrook 0 768934-027,Comfortable 237536 Nike Dunk High Women Black Pink Red ShoesMen's Running Shoe Nike Air Max 2015 698902-014,.

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 Running Shoe Nike Flyknit Air Max 620469-010,Shopping 218000 Nike Dunk High Women Red ShoesMen's Shoe Air Jordan 12 Retro 130690-007,.

Vans Classic Slip On Trainer CP5088

Immigration remains a politically charged issue in Japan, Men's Shoe Jordan Horizon Premium 822333-010,Buy 167167 Nike Dunk Low Women White Lemon ShoesMen's Shoe LeBron XIII Lifestyle 806396-001,. "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. "Men's Shoe Nike Air Max 90 Ultra Essential 819474-010,Shopping 240777 Nike Classic Cortez Nylon Women Black Peach ShoesMen's Shoe Nike Air Presto Ultra Flyknit 835570-006,."

Timberland Womens 6 Inch Glastonbury Cupsole Boot CP5177 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.Men's Shoe Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 92 Premium 844654-003,Comfortable 191941 Nike Dunk High Women Navy Pink ShoesMen's Shoe Nike Hyperdunk 2016 Flyknit 843390-146,. 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.

"Men's Shoe Nike Metcon DSX Flyknit 852930-006,Cheap 223345 Nike Free 3.0 V2 Women Black White ShoesMen's Shoe Nike Train Ultrafast Flyknit 843694-073,, like all other countries, does have racist problems, but hate crime and hate speech are relatively Men's Shoe Nike Zoom Train Toranada 835657-403,Inexpensive 221112 Nike Free 3.0 V2 Women Dark Grey Blue ShoesMen's Training Shoe Nike Lunar Caldra 803879-015,," 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 adidas Slingshot TR Blue Glow/Raw Purple/Halo Blue

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

Nen's nike KOBE X 705317-333,Shopping 155795 Nike Dunk Low Women White Green ShoesNIKE AIR ZOOM PEGASUS 31 Classic Charcoal/Green Glow/Menta,, and 60% are 65 or older. Most of their children have left for the city in search of better-paying office work.

NIKE FREE 1.0 CROSS BIONIC Black/White/Volt,Comfortable 167546 Nike Free Run Women Orange Grey White ShoesNIKE FREE VIRITOUS Bright Crimson/Elm/Sail/Blue Legend,, 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 Boots Aerosoles Nonchalant Black Fabric 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, NIKE SB LUNAR STEFAN JANOSKI Dove Grey/Summit White/Gorge Green,Inexpensive 168249 Nike Free 5.0 V4 Women Black Orange White ShoesWomen's Running Shoe Nike Air Max 2017 849560-502,, where the temperature can reach 40 C in summer.

Women's Shoe Nike Air Max 90 Premium 443817-008,Comfortable 197937 Nike Free Run 2 Women Red White ShoesWomen's Shoe Nike Flyknit Air Max 620659-404,. He speaks basic Japanese, which he picked up watching anime series such as "One Piece" and "Detective Conan."

Women's Shoe Nike Metcon 2 821913-002,Authentic 219911 Nike Free Run 2 Women Pink Grey White ShoesNike Flex Fury Boys Toddler Black/Volt/Flash Lime/White Running Shoes V30245,," 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.

Adidas Crazy 8 Boys Grade School Granite/Vivid Mint Basketball Shoes V56310,Cheap 232405 Nike Free Run 3 Women Grey Orange ShoesAdidas J Wall Boys Grade School Black/White/Gold/Clear Onix Basketball Shoes V34501,.

Womens Sandals Aerosoles Yetaway Black Snake 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 Free 5.0 2015 Boys Grade School Deep Royal Blue/Metallic Silver/Green Strike/Black Running Shoe,Inexpensive 151737 Nike Free Tr Fit Women Grey Blue White ShoesNike Roshe One Girls Grade School Pink Pow/Metallic Silver/Total Orange/Pink/White Running Shoes V69,.

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 D Rose 6 Mens Black/Talc/Brown Basketball Shoes V29126,Discount 215893 Nike Lunarfly Women White Blue Orange ShoesAdidas Adizero Adios Boost 2 Mens Black/White/Solar Red Running Shoes V36422,.

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

Adidas Adilette Trefoil Mens Tomato/Black/White Slippers V80663,Inexpensive 173683 Nike Lunarelite 2 Women Black Green ShoesAdidas Adizero Ubersonic Mens White/Collegiate Navy/Blue Tennis Shoes V90415,.

Womens Shoes Aerosoles Nuwlywed Dark Brown Leather Internet company Rakuten, based in Tokyo, has been actively recruiting foreign talent. (Photo by Yasunori Okamura)

Nike Air Max Sequent Mens University Red/Ocean Fog/White/Metallic Silver Running Shoes V82839,Cheap 236120 Nike Roshe Run Women Purple Pink ShoesNike Air Zoom Pegasus 32 Mens Black/Deep Royal Blue/Sail/Racer Blue Running Shoes V18298,. 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 Fs Lite Run 2 Mens Dark Magnet Grey/White/Black Running Shoes V51289,Cheap 179358 Nike Roshe Run Women Red Alert White ShoesNike Zoom Elite 8 Mens Game Royal/Black/Hyper Orange/Bright Crimson Running Shoes V54522,, 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, Nike Air Max 95 Mens University Red/Wolf Grey/Black/Pure Platinum/White Running Shoes V83469,Adidas Bounce Titan 2013 Men Coupon_052Adidas Pure Boost X Trainer Womens Black/Onix Training Shoes V23549,.

Womens Boots ALDO Miresa Black Leather 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. Nike Air Max 1 Ultra Womens Black/White/Stealth/Pure Platinum Running Shoes V36596,Adidas Bounce Titan IV Men Coupon_069Nike Air Zoom Winflo 2 Womens Chalk Blue/Racer Blue/Atomic Pink/Platinum Running Shoes V43846,.

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. Nike Free 5.0 2015 Womens Violet Ash/White/Hyper Orange/Black Running Shoes V83848,Adidas Bounce Titan III Men Coupon_066Nike Zoom Fly 2 Womens Cool Grey/Lucid Green/Voltage Green Running Shoes V47111,, 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," Men's Nike Free Trainer 5.0 V6 Game Royal/Obsidian/Deep Royal Blue/Volt UK#N5-9412,Adidas Originals JS Men Coupon_151Nike Kids Flex Experience 3 Lava Glow/Pink Pow/Liquid Lime/White UK#N5-9523,.

Family ties

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

Womens Boots Anne Klein Kael Black Leather 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, Women's Nike Prime Hype DF II Black/White/Metallic Silver/Reflect Silver UK#N5-9575,Adidas Porsche Design 550 Men Coupon_158Vans Van Doren Backpack CP102,, Care Port Itabashi.  

Flossy Infant Plimsole CP512,Adidas Porsche Design V Men Coupon_205Nike Junior Lunarglide 6 Trainer CP626,, 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 Anne Klein Petrica Firebrick Reptile

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. Creative Recreation Nursery Cesario Low Ripstop Trainer CP752,Adidas Springblade 2013 Men Coupon_251Only & Sons Warp 3079 Skinny Ripped Jean CP909,.  

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, Criminal Damage Harlem Overhead Hooded Top CP1029,Adidas Springblade 2013 Men Coupon_262UCLA Shrader Tape Hooded Top CP1173,. 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," Brave Soul Borwell Premium Bomber Jacket CP1278,Adidas Clima Cool 5th Women Coupon_308Native Youth Curved Hem Varsity Jacket CP1455,."

The North Face Quest Jacket CP1532,

Subscribe to get unlimited access to all articles.

Carhartt Skill Short CP2100,Jimmy Choo Bridal Women Coupon_714Calvin Klein One Logo Tape Swim Short CP2296,
NAR site on phone, device, tablet

Ellesse Mercurio Taped Track Top CP3568,

Subscribe to get unlimited access to all articles.

3 months for $9

Havaianas Brasil Flip Flop CP3845,Jimmy Choo heels Women Coupon_774Toms Avalon Sneaker Shoe CP3942,
NAR site on phone, device, tablet

Your trial period has expired

You need a subscription to...

adidas Originals Los Angeles Trainer CP4109,Jimmy Choo Pumps Women Coupon_813Bjorn Borg X100 Low Mesh Trainer CP4257,

Your full access to the Nikkei Asian Review has expired

You need a subscription to:

Creative Recreation Cesario Lo XVI Ripstop Trainer CP4364,Jimmy Choo Sandals Women Coupon_862Hugo Boss Victual Trainer CP4493,
Nike Safari Deconstruct Trainer CP4641,Jimmy Choo Sandals Women Coupon_893Nike Air Force 1 Trainer CP4809,
  • Authentic 216021 Nike Classic Cortez Nylon Women Yellow Blue Shoes
  • Nike LeBron 11 Silver/Jade/Pink Basketball Shoes 3128349
  • Young Nike Shoes for Big Boys Air Max 2017 Off White/Hot Lava-Black
  • Nike Free Powerlines + II Men Shoes Black/Gray/White /Nike Jordan [ N2441]
  • Men's - PUMA Classics+ T7 Woven Pants - Cotton Black 1ZZ10186 - Clothing - Casual
  • adidas Originals XPLR Circular Knit Men White
  • Low-Cost MOSCHINO UNDERWEAR Microfiber Push Up Bra - Pink women's Lingerie - 35OC274
  • Fred Perry Core Track Top Blue - Mens Track Tops
  • Mens Nike Air Max Tn I Gold Shoe Fast Shipping
  • Womens Nike Air Max Tailwind 6 Purple Rose Orange Shoe Stockists
  • Nike Women'S Flex 2015 Rn Flash Running Shoe - "Black"
  • Basketball Women-0060
  • 2018 Fashion style - Nike Dunk High Top Women Hello Kitty Colourful Flower Red Pink Shoes
  • UK Quality assurance - Puma Roma Men Lows Sneakers Black-Black
  • Nike White/Fuchsia Glow/Hot Lava/Metallic Silver Zoom Fitk FLW682417
  • Men's - Nike Air Max Terra Sertig Black / Green-Anthracite-Medium Volt Shoes
  • Anti-cold Adidas Superstar Bling XL adidas originals superstar supercolor giveaway eBay Superstar Shoes adidas Adidas originals zx flux superstar 2 superstar trainers
  • Men's Nike Air Command Force White/Bright Crimson/Wolf Grey/Lyon Blue
  • Nike FB Surf Mo Bo 613888-010 Black/Dark Grey Heather
  • Asics Tiger Shoes Sale Gel-Lyte Iii Lasercut - Alpha Pack tan/tan AS 6632
  • Platforms Jimmy Choo Women Coupon_996