Umbro Rio Jord Short CP2215 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 Boots COACH Sherman Chestnut/Khaki Signature Suede,Flossy Palmira Espadrille CP3799,Womens Sandals COACH Pelican Chalk Shiny Jelly,. 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 COACH Kelson Outline Black/Smoke/Black Sig/Suede,Ellesse Trevi Big Logo Flip Flop CP3831,Womens Boots Cole Haan Balthasar Chukka Fatigue,.

"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 Boots Cole Haan Livingston Bootie Black Leather,Clae Strayhorn Leather Shoe CP3873,Womens Shoes Cole Haan Elsie Open Toe Wedge II Rose Gold Metallic,, 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 Shoes Cole Haan Amalia Skimmer Ironstone Metallic Lizard Print/Ironstone,Lacoste Sevrin 7 Shoe CP3923,Womens Shoes Cole Haan Pinch Campus Dark Silver Metallic Specchio,. Like other industries in a rapidly aging Japan, the construction business is desperate for labor. Unisex Shoes Converse by John Varvatos All Star Ox Black,adidas Originals Busenitz Trainer CP4024,Womens Sandals ECCO Touch 45 Wedge Black,. As baby boomers retire, the labor shortage -- in construction and in the wider economy -- is bound to become more acute.

Cheap 211973 Nike Dream Season III Low Kobe Bryant Men Black White Purple 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 Shoes ECCO Mobile III Casual Sneaker Black,adidas Originals Los Angeles Trainer CP4095,Womens Shoes ECCO Sport Yura Black/Aquatic,, 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 Shoes GUESS Adalee Black Leather,adidas Originals Superstar Vulcanised ADV Trainer CP4127,Womens Shoes GUESS Aerra Snake Synthetic,, Japan is in the midst of a quiet revolution when it comes to immigrant workers. Womens Boots Naturalizer Mint Wide Shaft Black Wide Shaft Leather,adidas Originals Country OG Trainer CP4170,Womens Sandals Naturalizer Every Black Leather,.

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 Naturalizer Velma Tender Taupe/Black Shiny,Asics Gel-Lyte III Metro Trainer CP4242,Womens Shoes New Balance W650v2 Lead,.

Shopping 228888 Nike Dunk High Men Blue Denim Shoes

Immigration remains a politically charged issue in Japan, Womens Shoes New Balance WX88v1 Blue/Yellow,Converse Chuck Taylor All Star Hiker Trainer CP4284,Womens Shoes Nike Unify Strike Metal Black/White/Neon Yellow,. "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 Shoes Nike Air Max Siren Print Sport Fuchsia/Black/Summit White/Mulberry,Creative Recreation Kaplan Mesh Trainer CP4376,Womens Shoes Nike Free 5.0 Print Vivid Purple/Hyper Orange/White/Black,."

Comfortable 169858 Nike Dunks Low Men Black Green Uncle 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 Shoes Nike Tri Fusion Run Wolf Grey/Fierce Purple/Atomic Pink/White,Fred Perry Hallam Chambray Trainer CP4457,Womens Sandals PATRIZIA Derica Orange,. 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 PATRIZIA Alcea Navy,Hugo Boss Light Air Trainer CP4491,Womens Shoes PUMA Suede Classic - Solange Collection Patina Green Geo,, like all other countries, does have racist problems, but hate crime and hate speech are relatively Womens Shoes Reebok SubLite Train 4.0 L MT Lilac Metallic/Steel/Celestial Orchid/White/Black,New Balance M574 Reflective Trainer CP4553,Womens Sandals Rocket Dog Gem White Kingsley,," 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.

Authentic 182737 Nike Free Run 2 Men Gray Yellow White Shoes

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 Boots Sam Edelman Alyssa Black Suede,Nike Lunar Force 1 '14 Trainer CP4638,Womens Sandals Sam Edelman Kayde Black Patent,, and 60% are 65 or older. Most of their children have left for the city in search of better-paying office work.

Womens Shoes Sam Edelman Felicia Black Twiggy Sequins,Nike Roshe One Print Trainer CP4702,Womens Shoes Saucony Hurricane ISO Purple/Coral/Lavendar,, 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.

Buy 175438 Nike Lebron 10 Men Royal Blue Black Shoes 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 Superga 2905 Cotw Linea Up And Down Navy,Nike Zoom Stefan Janoski Canvas Premium Trainer CP4724,Womens Shoes Timberland PRO Power Train Grey/Green,, where the temperature can reach 40 C in summer.

Womens Boots UGG Oregon Stout Twinface/Leather,Nike Air Max 95 Ultra Jacquard Trainer CP4830,Womens Boots UGG Dixi Flora Perf Port Water Resistant Suede,. He speaks basic Japanese, which he picked up watching anime series such as "One Piece" and "Detective Conan."

Womens Shoes UGG Aven Tawny,Puma Basket Trainer CP4916,Womens Boots Vaneli Jessy Black Suede/Matching Mop Buttons,," 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 Vaneli Baina Black Ferns Patent,Reebok Furylite Tonal Trainer CP5000,Womens Shoes Vaneli Birkey Natural Cork/Platino Metallic Nappa,.

Comfortable 173240 Nike Lunarelite 2 Men White Gray Orange Shoes 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 Vaneli Adella Grey E-Print/Matching Elastic,Supra Owen Trainer CP5033,Unisex Shoes Vans Brigata (C&C) Dress Blues/True White,.

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.

Nike Just Do It Print,Hunter Womens Original Tall Wellington Boot CP5158,Nike Fringe Flip,.

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

Running Graphic Jacket,Birkenstock Womens Arizona EVA Sandal CP5211,Women's HYKE Asymmetric Big Tee,.

Inexpensive 147288 Nike Roshe Run Men Green Glass Blue Peak White Shoes Internet company Rakuten, based in Tokyo, has been actively recruiting foreign talent. (Photo by Yasunori Okamura)

Women's adizero Tee,Womens Sandals adidas Supercloud Plus Slide Collegiate Navy/Vivid Mint/Clear Sky,BVB Replica Shorts,. 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,2016 Brazil CBF Stadium Away,Womens Shoes adidas Lite Racer Vivid Mint/Black/White,LeBron "Strive for Greatness",, 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, Men's Linear 3-Stripes Shorts,Unisex Shoes adidas Originals Campus 2 Night Flash/White/Night Flash,Nike Pro Cool Tracer,.

Cheap 216923 Nike Shox O Leven Men Black Green Shoes 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. Various Sizes Nike Zoom Lebron X 10 Low Mens Shoes Red Green borMCFmr,Womens Boots Aerosoles Make A Wish Dark Brown Leather,Authentic 5t8vb h2vu3g August Deals Nike Air Max 90 Mens Grey,.

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 mhyff gucg9b August Deals Ultra Boost Mens,Womens Boots Aerosoles High Ride Black Croco,Authentic xcgxg n4qemm August Deals ZX Flux Mens,, 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," Buy fqgqf uyxt4x August Deals Nike Air Max 90 Womens Pink,Womens Sandals Aerosoles Enchlave Turquoise,Buy xrxwr 26g2gq August Deals Nike Air Max 1 Womens,.

Family ties

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

Comfortable 150367 Nike Shox R6 Men Black Shoes 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, Cheap f5rhq 3p8uy3 August Deals Nike Roshe Run Womens,Womens Sandals Aerosoles Self Yesteem Taupe Combo,Cheap u4png 43tqfn August Deals Nike Air Max 2016 Mens,, Care Port Itabashi.  

Discount dp9rr 3swzsy August Deals Nike Air Max 90 Womens Black,Womens Boots ALDO Madisona Black,Discount xatcq hb2rsu August Deals Nike Air Max Tavas Mens,, 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. 

Shopping 228338 Nike Zoom Kobe IV Men Red White Shoes

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. Online 2tk2s xtmi9y August Deals ZX 700 Mens,Womens Boots ALDO Ocoinia Black Suede,Online ux73m prpvf8 Cheap Adidas Superstar Womens 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, Outlet gatqa dsgb6a August Deals Nike Air Max 90 Womens White,Womens Sandals ALDO Lareani Black,Sale 3a9u2 dt39an August Deals Nike Air Max 90 Mens Blue,. 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," Sale kh3ng rxp4eq August Deals Nike Air Max Zero Womens,Womens Boots Anne Klein AKKacey Wide Calf Black Leather,UK 6xy7k 64huv3 August Deals Nike Air Max 90 Mens,."

UK t8zep x4gxzy August Deals Nike Air Max 90 Womens,

Subscribe to get unlimited access to all articles.

Buy 239872 Nike Zoom Kobe VI Kid Shoes,Womens Sandals Calvin Klein Laken Sandstorm/Platinum White/Black Leather,Inexpensive 180089 Adidas ZX 750 Men Navy Dark Navy White Shoes,
NAR site on phone, device, tablet

Cheap 237854 Air Jordan V.1 Retro Men Grey White Shoes,

Subscribe to get unlimited access to all articles.

3 months for $9

Comfortable 191773 New Balance Classics M574 Men Covert Green Shoes,Womens Shoes Calvin Klein Nathali Lipstick Red Kid Suede,Discount 175551 Nike Air Classic BW Si Men Black Green Shoes,
NAR site on phone, device, tablet

Your trial period has expired

You need a subscription to...

Cheap 227142 Nike Air Force 1 Men Shoes,Womens Shoes Calvin Klein Coreene Dark Cherry Suede/Liquid Patent,Discount 160706 Nike Air Max Men Black Shoes,

Your full access to the Nikkei Asian Review has expired

You need a subscription to:

Authentic 242841 Nike Air Max Men Red Yellow Gradient Shoes,Womens Shoes Calvin Klein Giovanna Soft White/Dark Brown Leopard Lizard Print Leather,Cheap 150860 Nike Air Max 90 Men Black Brown Shoes,
Cheap 201931 Nike Air Max Fly By Men White Blue Shoes,Womens Sandals CARLOS by Carlos Santana Siena Taupe,Shopping 169246 Nike Air Max Tailwind Men Grey Shoes,
  • Womens Shoes adidas Fresh Bounce Famous Collegiate Navy/White/Green Glow
  • New England Patriots Nike Roshe One Run Triple White Custom
  • Rocklander / Rocklander Smart Casual Shoes / Camel
  • Cheap Nike Free 5.0 Womens TR Fit 4 Print Black/Pink Glow/White Training Shoe StoreQuantity Assured
  • Nike Air Max 90 Hyperfuse Blue Orange Shoes
  • The Hottest Styles Dior Eyewear Black Dioronde1 Sunglasses For Women Online Sale
  • Official ERNESTO DOLANI Tumbled Leather Derby - Black Men's Lace-Up Shoes - 58PD826
  • Nike Zoom Vapor 9 5 Tour Tennis Shoes Volt White Black For Men
  • High-quality Red Wing Chelsea Ranger Leather Boots Men 3392-8922
  • Provide Mens BOSS Orange Tuned Casual Lace-Ups Dark Blue
  • Big Boy Size KD Comfort 7 Platinum Glow in The Dark Black Pure For
  • Air Force LOW-0186
  • Retail Mens Adidas Originals ZX 420 Shoes For Coffee/White/Blue
  • Nike Air Jordan t4g (White / Varsity Red) Sneakers
  • Edgy Men Le Coq Sportif Slim Le Coq Sportif Pant Grey
  • Boots Women Two Lips Puller Riding Boot Cognac First Rate
  • Nike Hyperdunk 2015 PRM EP Cargo Khaki Sequoia Bamboo Volt
  • Women Kaporal Safia Trainers - Rubber - Or - 2696865mj
  • Asics Womens Shoes / White Periwinkle Mint Shoes Asics Gel Nimbus 16 wide Running Sneaker KY598470r1w