Womens Boots Calvin Klein Ahlam Brown Sugar Calf/Cow Kansas 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 Nike Juvenate Soar/White/Deep Royal Blue,Womens Shoes Cole Haan Bradshaw JWL Pump 45 Black SuedeWomens Shoes Nike Flex 2015 RN Flash Noble Purple/Vivid Purple/Hyper Orange/Metallic Silver,. 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 Nike Zoom Fit Dark Grey/Vivd Purple/Hyper Orange,Womens Shoes Cole Haan Grant Chesnut Gold Snake PrintWomens Shoes Nike Air Max Tailwind 8 Racer Blue/Chalk Blue/Hyper Orange/Black,.

"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 PATRIZIA Miracle Black,Womens Shoes Cole Haan Deacon Loafer Black Suede w/ StudsWomens Sandals PATRIZIA Shuman Red,, 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 Patna Black,Womens Shoes Cole Haan Bethany Open Toe Wedge Maple Sugar PatentWomens Shoes PATRIZIA Christine Grey,. Like other industries in a rapidly aging Japan, the construction business is desperate for labor. Womens Shoes PUMA Pulse XT Geo Black,Womens Shoes Cole Haan Highline Sling Black Lizard Print/BlackWomens Shoes PUMA Pulse XT Sport Gray Violet/Periscope,. As baby boomers retire, the labor shortage -- in construction and in the wider economy -- is bound to become more acute.

Discount 160018 New Balance Mx623V2 Men Grey 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 Reebok Reebok Royal Glide White/Steel/Reebok Royal,Womens Shoes Cole Haan Bethany Pump 65 BlackWomens Shoes Reebok Trainfusion 5.0 L MT Coal/Fearless Pink/White,, 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 Rocket Dog Snowcrush Sand Suede,Womens Shoes Cole Haan Bradshaw Sling 40 Black/White Snake PrintWomens Sandals Rocket Dog Nina Comfort Natural Eclipse,, Japan is in the midst of a quiet revolution when it comes to immigrant workers. Womens Shoes Rocket Dog Helaine Navy Joshua,Womens Shoes Cole Haan Bria Grand Sneaker Vapor Grey/Snake PrintWomens Boots Sam Edelman Hannah Mocha Latte,.

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 Sam Edelman Reid Almond Patent,Womens Shoes Cole Haan Cambon High Sandal BlackWomens Shoes Sam Edelman Ola Soft Nude,.

Comfortable 212878 Nike Air Force 1 Men Winter Pack Shoes

Immigration remains a politically charged issue in Japan, Womens Shoes Sam Edelman Bev Pewter,Womens Shoes Cole Haan Zerogrand Sneaker Black/Black ShimmerWomens Shoes Sam Edelman Nadine Black Glitz,. "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 Saucony Cohesion 8 Silver/Navy/Pink,Womens Shoes Cole Haan Pinch Weekender Black CanvasWomens Shoes Saucony Originals Shadow 5000 Lime,."

Buy 210584 Nike Air Force 1 Men Silver White Black 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 Superga 2750 Nappaw Red,Womens Shoes Cole Haan Zerogrand Slip-On Sneaker Silver Mesh/Vapor Grey/SunrayWomens Boots UGG Bailey Button Triplet Sand Sheepskin,. 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 Boots UGG Lesley Stout,Womens Shoes Cole Haan Zerogrand Maryjane Black Neoprene/MeshWomens Boots UGG Elsa Stout Leather,, like all other countries, does have racist problems, but hate crime and hate speech are relatively Womens Boots UGG Bailey Button Bling Ice/Twinface,Womens Shoes Cole Haan Zerogrand Sneaker Ocelot Haircalf/BlackWomens Boots UGG Collection Stella Nero Leather,," 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.

Shopping 179906 Nike Air Max Men Black Crimson 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 Shoes UGG Dempsey Cream Nubuck,Womens Shoes Cole Haan Zerogrand Wing Oxford Wild AsterWomens Boots Vaneli Valka Black,, and 60% are 65 or older. Most of their children have left for the city in search of better-paying office work.

Womens Sandals Vaneli Bernita Black Nappa/Black Darry Print/Gunmetal Ring,Womens Shoes Cole Haan Lena Mid Pump II Gold MetallicWomens Sandals Vaneli Taletha Multi Darry Print,, 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.

Authentic 197314 Nike Air Max 1 Men White Red Grey 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 Vaneli Tiffany Natural Cork/Black Smack Patent,Womens Shoes Cole Haan Pinch Weekender Sandshell CanvasWomens Shoes Vaneli Binge Black Mag Patent,, where the temperature can reach 40 C in summer.

Womens Shoes Vaneli Pamela Black Nappa/Black Mag Patent/Gold Chain,Womens Shoes Cole Haan Pinch Campus ElectraWomens Shoes Vaneli Alisha Red Nubia,. He speaks basic Japanese, which he picked up watching anime series such as "One Piece" and "Detective Conan."

Unisex Shoes Vans Old Skool Zip (Leather) Whispering Pink/Blanc de Blanc,Womens Shoes Cole Haan Allison Skimmer Perf Silver Mist SuedeNike Fastbreak Stock,," 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.

Nike Cover-Ups Hydro Current,Unisex Shoes Converse Weapon Mid Black/SpinachNike Shorts,.

Comfortable 174102 Nike Air Max 90 Men White Blue Red 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."

Nike SB Icon Cherry Blossom Pullover,Womens Boots ECCO Sculptured 75 Ankle Boot Black Old WestWomen's Padded Jacket,.

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.

Men's White Mountaineering Tee,Womens Boots ECCO Elaine Buckle Boot Cocoa BrownAFC Casuals Performance Polo,.

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

Nike Run Fast,Womens Boots ECCO Touch 55 Bootie TarmacActive Training Vent Stretch Woven Shorts,.

Comfortable 245245 Nike Air Max 90 Men White Grey Blue Black Shoes Internet company Rakuten, based in Tokyo, has been actively recruiting foreign talent. (Photo by Yasunori Okamura)

Men's Germany Shorts,Womens Sandals ECCO Touch 45 Wedge Sandal Trooper/Ice Flower/Ice FlowerNike Pro Indy Checker,. 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 Snow Just Do It,Womens Sandals ECCO Bouillon Band Sandal II Black/BlackNike Pro Warm 8 Bit,, 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, Youth Running 3/4 Tight,Womens Sandals ECCO Felicia BlackVarious Sizes 2012 Nike Free Run 3.0 V3 Men Shoes Blue Green NdTkpiRf,.

Inexpensive 196228 Nike Air Max Ltd II Men Black Red 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. Wholesale Trade Adidas Jeremy Scott 3 Tongue Shoes Men White Black maoT7DkW,Womens Shoes ECCO Aimee Slip On BlackWholesale UK Nike Air Jordan 3 III Cement Mens Shoes White Blue Grey ymrbVT01,.

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 c8mga yb8kki Cheap Nike Air Max 90 Womens Shoes,Womens Shoes ECCO CS14 Retro Sneaker Bordeaux/GravelAuthentic mhzkc bsc7td August Deals ZX Flux Womens,, 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," Authentic xkuux pvvsb6 August Deals Nike Air Max 1 Womens,Womens Shoes ECCO Auckland Loafer True NavyBuy agz7c yvwp7r Cheap Adidas Superstar Womens White Shoes,.

Family ties

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

Cheap 190908 Nike Air Penny V Men Tour Yellow Black Grey 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, Buy kum3i cunww5 August Deals Nike Roshe Run Womens,Womens Shoes ECCO Cayla Casual Tie Coffee/MochaBuy z4kgk eufigv August Deals Nike Air Max 90 Mens White,, Care Port Itabashi.  

Cheap bgegy i8y5uu August Deals Nike Air Max 90 Mens,Womens Shoes Ecco Performance Ulterro Lo GTX Warm Grey/Sage/Ice FlowerCheap n5tu7 2bq6z5 August Deals Nike Air Max Zero 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. 

Discount 193987 Nike Dunk High Men White Black Red 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. Cheap x6hts chg6dn August Deals Nike Air Presto Womens,Womens Shoes ECCO Sport Yura Black/MorilloDiscount 8dqbk p2evuh August Deals Nike Air Max 90 Mens Grey,.  

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, Discount mzvu6 i5anrb August Deals Nike Air Max 90 Mens Grey,Womens Sandals GUESS Shanan Yellow SuedeOnline 456is an5cfu August Deals Nike Air Max 90 Womens 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," Online hyaxb h5sve7 August Deals Superstar Mens Black,Womens Sandals GUESS Sechi NavyOnline teey6 rseavu August Deals Superstar Mens Black,."

Outlet bgqw3 txrh29 August Deals ZX Flux Mens,

Subscribe to get unlimited access to all articles.

Outlet smubf phguvf August Deals Superstar Mens,Womens Sandals Naturalizer Leona Black LeatherSale 87ycf z47bnn August Deals Nike Air Max 90 Mens Black,
NAR site on phone, device, tablet

Sale mazq8 szs4s4 August Deals Nike Blazer Low Womens,

Subscribe to get unlimited access to all articles.

3 months for $9

Sale z7i2s wu6u66 August Deals Nike Air Max 90 Womens Red,Womens Shoes Naturalizer Uri Black Smooth/ShinyUK es996 vtdq3y August Deals Nike Free 50 Mens,
NAR site on phone, device, tablet

Your trial period has expired

You need a subscription to...

Cheap 234597 New Balance Kids Kid Pink Blue Shoes,Womens Shoes Naturalizer Yalena Black LeatherDiscount 244245 Adidas Match Play Mid Casual Men Blue Shoes,

Your full access to the Nikkei Asian Review has expired

You need a subscription to:

Comfortable 197503 Adidas ZX 700 Men Blue Red Shoes,Womens Shoes Naturalizer Joyce Classic Olive SuedeAuthentic 178132 New Balance Kids 501 Kid Black White Shoes,
Buy 238545 Asics Gelkayano 18 Men Grey Yellow Shoes,Womens Shoes New Balance WO99 Silver/PinkBuy 162947 New Balance Classics M574 Men Orange Shoes,
  • Womens Shoes Cole Haan Raven Hightop Sneaker Black Shearling
  • Skechers Grand Jams-Taupe
  • Women Reebok ZPump Fusion'Running Shoes' Black/White/Mint Glow Model UK2344
  • Birkenstock Arizona Birko-flor Silky Rose Womens Sandals in Pink Floral Q3989
  • ASICS Women's Gel-Zaraca 4 - Pink - Trainers
  • Kids' Nike Air LeBron Akronite Shoes Silver/Orange 829356-008
  • High Quality TITLE OF WORK Tokyo Embellished Silk Gabardine - White / Black Men's Ties - 31EO663
  • Nike Air Jordan Future Low Shoes Mens Red Black White N78716
  • * Men White Black Orange Purple Air Max 90
  • Luxury Mens Clarks Franson Plain Casual Lace-Ups Brown
  • SIMONE PERELE - Caresse 3D Spacer and stretch-lace underwired plunge bra Peau rose NIQQME
  • Basketball James-0391
  • Shop Nike Magista Onda Firm Ground Football Boots Mens Wolf Grey/Blue 850833EU
  • Seychelles Gold Essentials KTM895004
  • Nike Air Max 2018 Mens Navy White Shoes
  • Free People Navy Gauze Sweet Talker Top IGE623666
  • Clarks Black Leather Women Discovery Ritz Mary Jane Flat Shoes Unique
  • Nike Air Max 2014 Anthracite Light Crimson Orange
  • Women Dockers Oba Trainers - Rubber - Sand - 2252725gv
  • Nike Free 4.0 V2 Flyknit Men Women New Womens Nike Free Run V2 For Sale Nike Free V3 Running Shoes N
  • Womens Shoes New Balance W890V5 Purple/Grey