Womens Boots UGG Zea Black Leather 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

Sale awrcx uffsd2 August Deals Nike Air Max Thea Womens,Womens Slippers UGG Mellie Black Water Resistant Suede,Sale k62g5 3wumkg August Deals Nike Free 50 Womens,. 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, Sale vzf8b cprn2k August Deals Nike Roshe Run Mens,Womens Boots Vaneli Rhun Black Laredo Calf/Ant Gunmetl Buckle,UK bmzc4 hi6p98 August Deals Nike Air Max 2015 Womens,.

"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, UK u7erg 4iie9k August Deals Nike Roshe Run Mens,Womens Sandals Vaneli Maslyn Black Mag Patent/Black Elastic,Comfortable 176126 New Balance Kids Kl574 Kid Green Shoes,, 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. Shopping 192458 Adidas Springblade Razor Men Black Blue Shoes,Womens Sandals Vaneli Marsie Ecru Nappa/Gold Buckle/Mtch Zipper,Discount 238542 Air Jordan 21 Men Metallic Silver White Blue Shoes,. Like other industries in a rapidly aging Japan, the construction business is desperate for labor. Buy 224293 Air Jordan 5 Retro Men Black Fluorescent Green Shoes,Womens Sandals Vaneli Baina Navy Ecco Nappa,Buy 226892 Air Jordan XXI Men Red Black Silver Shoes,. As baby boomers retire, the labor shortage -- in construction and in the wider economy -- is bound to become more acute.

Men's Nike Zoom Speed TR 2 Pure Platinum/Wolf Grey/Volt/Metallic Silver UK#N5-9226 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, Authentic 190372 New Balance Classics M801 Men Grey Shoes,Womens Shoes Vaneli Rummy Lt. Taupe E-Prt/Mtch Stitch/Ant Gold,Shopping 226840 New Balance M1080v4 Men Silver Shoes,, 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.

Buy 168240 Nike Air Classic BW Si Men White Pink Shoes,Womens Shoes Vaneli Lexan Black Nizza Fabric/Black Mesh,Comfortable 232968 Nike Air Force 1 Men White Purple Blue Shoes,, Japan is in the midst of a quiet revolution when it comes to immigrant workers. Authentic 235450 Nike Air Griffey Max II Men White Blue Black Shoes,Womens Shoes Vaneli Bennet Dark Tan Coach Suede,Inexpensive 215263 Nike Air Max Men White Black Shoes,.

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, Comfortable 150447 Nike Air Max 1 Men Green White Gold Shoes,Womens Shoes Vaneli Davis Pewter Prl Nappa/Mtch Elastic,Authentic 175187 Nike Air Max 90 Men Black Blue Shoes,.

Women's Nike Racquette Leather Black/White/Black UK#N5-9434

Immigration remains a politically charged issue in Japan, Discount 232371 Nike Air Max 90 Men White Black Shoes,Womens Shoes Vaneli Tricia Tmoro Molly Rodi Print,Cheap 192757 Nike Air Max Fly By Men White Blue Shoes,. "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. "Cheap 213884 Nike Air Max Shake Evolve Men Black Black Dark Grey Red Shoes,Womens Shoes Vaneli Rodina Bark Dream Calf,Shopping 220097 Nike Classic Cortez Nylon Men Blue Black Shoes,."

Calvin Klein Cotton Stretch 3 Pack Boxer Short CP406 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.Shopping 213893 Nike Dunk High Men Shoes,Womens Slippers Vans Slippin Slippers Black/White,Buy 161461 Nike Dunk Low Men Marvin Martian Shoes,. 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.

"Cheap 165830 Nike Dunks High Men Grey Blue Yellow Shoes,Nike Elite,Comfortable 156116 Nike Free 5.0 V4 Men Red Black White Shoes,, like all other countries, does have racist problems, but hate crime and hate speech are relatively Authentic 160929 Nike Free Trainer Men Blue White Shoes,Hurley Corman 3.0,Inexpensive 219617 Nike Lebron 11 Men Shoes,," 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.

Kickers Junior Kick Low Core Shoe CP616

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

Buy 167457 Nike Lunarglide Men Silver Black Shoes,Nike Course Enemies Selvedge Chino,Shopping 243859 Nike Lunarmax Men Black Shoes,, and 60% are 65 or older. Most of their children have left for the city in search of better-paying office work.

Buy 242315 Nike Shox Conundrum Men White Blue Shoes,Hurley One And Only Full-Zip,Inexpensive 196381 Nike Shox Qualify Men White Red Shoes,, 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.

Duck & Cover Boxren Regular Tapered Jean CP839 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, Authentic 170044 Nike Shox R4 Men Grey Black Shoes,Women’s Fleece Hoodie,Discount 189143 Nike Shox Rivalry Men Brown Brown Shoes,, where the temperature can reach 40 C in summer.

Shopping 153859 Nike Zoom Hyperdunk Men Royal Blue Silver Grey Shoes,Women’s No.1 Logo Track Jacket,Shopping 163663 Nike Zoom Kobe VIII Basketball Men Black Purple Shoes,. He speaks basic Japanese, which he picked up watching anime series such as "One Piece" and "Detective Conan."

Discount 241269 Adidas Originals ZX 700 Unisex White Blue Shoes,Men's Prism Trefoil Tee,Discount 171246 Nike Roshe Run Unisex White Shoes,," 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.

Buy 227470 Air Jordan 6 Retro Women Black Purple White Shoes,Women's Floral Skirt,Inexpensive 174634 New Balance W1080V4 Women White Coral Shoes,.

Kings Will Dream Mariano Hooded Top CP1093 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."

Discount 158244 Nike Air Max Women Pink Purple Shoes,Golf D_VENT Polo,Shopping 149667 Nike Air Max Women Grey Pink Shoes,.

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.

Discount 228265 Nike Dunk High Women Flower Pink Red Shoes,Nike Palm Impossibly Light,Shopping 191122 Nike Free Run 2 Women Pink White Shoes,.

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 Athletic Hard II Men Coupon_002,Nike French Terry Alumni,Comfortable 230417 Nike Free 5.0 V4 Women Black Gray Blue Shoes,.

Brave Soul MJK Herrera Bomber Jacket CP1274 Internet company Rakuten, based in Tokyo, has been actively recruiting foreign talent. (Photo by Yasunori Okamura)

Adidas Bounce Titan V Women Coupon_297,Nike Tech Knit Shorts,Christian Louboutin Sale Women Coupon_475,. 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,Giuseppe Zanotti Sale Women Coupon_658,Men's Training Shorts,Jimmy Choo heels Women Coupon_771,, 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, Platforms Jimmy Choo Women Coupon_975,Nike Pro Fierce Lotus,New Balance 500 Men Coupon_1118,.

Publish Jupiter Jacket CP1503 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. New Balance 574 Men Coupon_1281,KD "Score At Will",New Balance 670 Men Coupon_1294,.

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 Derrick Rose Men Coupon_1620,NikeCourt Pure,Nike Kobe Bryant Men Coupon_1839,, 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 Basketball Shoe Nike HyperLive 819663-707,Men's Essentials Track Suit,Men's Nike Air Max 90 Ultra BR Shoe 725222-404,.

Family ties

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

Asylum Atherton Stretch Skinny Denim Short CP2086 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, Men's Nike Shoe Kobe Mentality 2 818952-005,Youth Techfit Base Tee,Men's Running Shoe Nike LunarEpic Flyknit 818676-700,, Care Port Itabashi.  

Men's Shoe Jordan Super.Fly 4 PO 819163-012,UK Sale Nike Air Max 87 2013 New Mens Shoes Blue UWMyRquS,Men's Shoe Nike Air Max Mercurial R9 818675-003,, 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. 

Luke 1977 Molby Swim Short CP2322

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. Men's Shoe Nike Free RN LE 850493-007,Various Sizes Nike Air Jordan V.1 Chukka Mens Height Shoes Black Blue dhGhjxti,Men's Shoe Nike Train Speed 4 Amp (Oregon) 844102-301,.  

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, Men's Training Shoe Nike Free Trainer 5.0 V6 AMP (Oregon) 723939-307,Wholesale Trade Nike Air Jordan V 5 Womens Shoes White Blue EyVuaa3Q,Men's Training Shoe Nike Metcon 2 819899-401,. 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," NIKE FREE TR 5 Peach Cream/Wolf Grey/White/Volt,Authentic 5gfi6 w6pyq6 Cheap Nike Air Max 90 Womens Grey Shoes,Women's Running Shoe Nike Air Max 2016 Print 818101-402,."

Women's Shoe Nike Air Zoom Vomero 11 818100-004,

Subscribe to get unlimited access to all articles.

Adidas Rose 3.5 Boys Toddler Joy Blue/Satellite/Altitude Basketball Shoes V60603,Cheap iixrp 5ndrsm August Deals Nike Air Max 90 Womens,Adidas D Lillard 1.0 Boys Grade School Scarlet/White Basketball Shoes V73986,
NAR site on phone, device, tablet

Nike Air Max Premiere Run Girls Grade School Black/Vivid Pink/White/Metallic Silver Running Shoes V2,

Subscribe to get unlimited access to all articles.

3 months for $9

Adidas D Rose 4.5 Mens Black/Light Scarlet Basketball Shoes V21372,Cheap qduyq xs9yyr August Deals Nike Air Max 1 Mens,Adidas Vigor Tr 6 Mens Solar Yellow/Black/Solar Red Running Shoes V77977,
NAR site on phone, device, tablet

Your trial period has expired

You need a subscription to...

Nike Air Max 2015 Mens Black/Sonic Yellow/Metallic Silver Running Shoes V28842,Discount 6e5wm 7m54ef August Deals Superstar Womens Gold,Nike Flex Fury Mens Blue Graphite/Classic Charcoal/Black/White Running Shoes V39152,

Your full access to the Nikkei Asian Review has expired

You need a subscription to:

Adidas Anyanda Flex Womens Black/White/Silver Metallic Flip Flops V36202,Discount f74iq bs4azn August Deals Nike Air Max 95 Mens,Adidas Barricade Team 4 Womens White/Night Sky/Flash Orange Tennis Shoes V92899,
Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 32 Womens Pink Pow/Barely Volt/Ghost Green/Black Running Shoes V69038,Discount tbu7n anqsmd August Deals Nike Blazer Low Womens,Nike Juvenate Womens University Red/University Red/Bright Crimson Running Shoes V83004,
  • Nike Pro Hyperwarm Max Flash Mock Compression
  • Candy Bling Nike Air Max 90 Women's Flyknit Black/White
  • ladies shoes minnetonka ankle-hi sheepskin pug bootgold tan sheepskin
  • Authentic & Low Price Reebok Jet Dashride Black Item:201095
  • Official Website Sandals Shoes - Mens Jordan Hydro 2 Premier Gym Red/Black/Wolf Grey
  • Adidas Originals Hamburg Trainer
  • Vans Authentic Lite Thor II Unisex Low Shoe O50x7724
  • Nike Ken Griffen Max Mens Shoes 2014 Green
  • Hippy Tree Trail Pant Men's 64940
  • LEVIS Navy Mid-Top Trainers Size 10
  • BOSS Green Men's Shoes RUNCOOL LUX - Trainers - dark beige
  • Nike Wmns Dunk Sky Hi - Fusion Red/Sail Store
  • New Balance 300 New Balance T4j7888
  • Womens Nike Free Run Nike Free Run Shoes Black Green No.4579
  • Nina Armando Maria - Black - NI921SH86EFT - Women's Heels
  • Grizzly Beckton Womens Merino Wool Leather Fashion Ankle Boots
  • Adidas NMD XR1 WOMEN'S Clear Onix/Charcoal Solid Grey/Raw Pink (BB3686)
  • Nike Womens Air Huarache Run Print Aloha Pack Black Artisan Teal
  • UK Outlet Shoe KD Trey 5 III Limited Basketball for Men
  • Men's Vans LPE Navy/True White Sneakers (Black) - TK530J03G