Womens Sandals Cole Haan Penelope 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

Womens Boots UGG Myrna Chestnut Leather,Womens Shoes Nike Tri Fusion Run Dark Grey/Green Glow/Ghost Green/WhiteWomens Boots UGG Wilowe Chestnut Leather,. 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 Boots UGG Bling Sting Oyster,Womens Shoes Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 32 Blue Lagoon/Sunset Glow/Pink Pow/BlackWomens Boots UGG Sivada Liberty Pony Brown,.

"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 Shoes UGG Camellia Ash Suede,Womens Shoes Nike Flex Trainer 5 Soar/Deep Royal Blue/White/VoltWomens Slippers UGG Dreams Berry Crush Hearts Suede,, 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 Slippers UGG Symona Serape Cream Jacquard,Womens Shoes Nike Acorra Suede Dark Storm/Black/Gum Light Brown/SailWomens Boots Vaneli Reagan T.Moro Nappa/Matching Elastic,. Like other industries in a rapidly aging Japan, the construction business is desperate for labor. Womens Sandals Vaneli Ellis Natural Cork/Beige Mesh/Gold Buckle,Womens Shoes Nike Flex 2015 RN Anthracite/Fuchsia Glow/Vivid Purple/WhiteWomens Sandals Vaneli Bitya Black Night Fever,. As baby boomers retire, the labor shortage -- in construction and in the wider economy -- is bound to become more acute.

Comfortable 156116 Nike Free 5.0 V4 Men Red Black White 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 Vaneli Raymon Black Pesca Fabric/Black Smack Patent,Womens Shoes Nike MD Runner 2 Velvet Brown/Hot Lava/Velvet BrownWomens Shoes Vaneli Marie Black Rimes/Black Elastic,, 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 Vaneli Bruna Natural Cork,Womens Shoes Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 32 Flash Noble Purple/Vivid Purple/Copa/Reflect SilverWomens Shoes Vaneli Gabbie Black Velvet/Black Satin,, Japan is in the midst of a quiet revolution when it comes to immigrant workers. Womens Shoes Vaneli Glenis Black Soft Patent/Black Arianna Fabric/Gold Trim,Womens Shoes Nike Air Zoom Elite 8 White/Dark Grey/Black/Pure PlatinumUnisex Shoes Vans SK8-Hi Slim Zip (Cheetah Suede) Black/Tan,.

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 Camouflage A Tee,Womens Shoes Nike Genicco Print Black/Wolf Grey/WhiteHurley Heathered Kingsroad,.

Comfortable 206484 Nike Free Run 3 Men Blue Yellow White Shoes

Immigration remains a politically charged issue in Japan, Nike Dri-FIT Sport Essentials Printed,Womens Shoes Nike Flex Experience Run 4 Anthracite/Blue Lagoon/White/CopaTW Mobility Print,. "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. "Italia Casual Performance Full Zip Hoodie,Womens Shoes Nike Air Max Thea White/White/BlackBMW Motorsport Track Jacket,."

Comfortable 245272 Nike Hyperdunk Kobe Bryant Olympic Men Black Red 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.Men's Classic Team CLRDO Windbreaker,Womens Shoes Nike Free 5.0 TR Fit 5 MTLC Black/PurpleWomen's Jardineto Firebird Track Top,. 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.

"Golf GT Brushstripe PWRCOOL Polo,Womens Shoes Nike Flex 2015 RUN Black/Hyper Pink/Digital Pink/Metallic SilverNike Epic Lux,, like all other countries, does have racist problems, but hate crime and hate speech are relatively Nike French Terry Alumni,Womens Shoes Nike Free TR Connect 2 Black/Bright Crimson/Dark Grey/WhiteNike SB Everett Woven,," 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.

Inexpensive 202567 Nike Lunarelite Men Grey 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

Men's Sweden Graphic Tee,Womens Shoes Nike Free 5.0 Violet Ash/Hyper Orange/BlackHurley Dri-FIT Icon,, and 60% are 65 or older. Most of their children have left for the city in search of better-paying office work.

Air Jordan,Womens Shoes Nike Dual Fusion TR 4 Print Blue Grey/Ocean Fog/Squadron Blue/WhiteNike Court,, 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.

Shopping 208316 Nike Roshe Run Men Silver Grey White 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, Women's adidas STELLASPORT Printed Sport Tights,Womens Boots PATRIZIA Chocolat BrownNike Legend Poly Tight,, where the temperature can reach 40 C in summer.

Various Sizes ctFr0ife Emergency Men Cortana Saucony Running Shoes 3 Black / Green,Womens Boots PATRIZIA Insightful BlackVarious Sizes Nike Zoom Lebron X 10 Low Mens Shoes Red Green borMCFmr,. He speaks basic Japanese, which he picked up watching anime series such as "One Piece" and "Detective Conan."

Authentic 35z3i 7m8bxy August Deals Nike Air Max 90 Womens Black,Womens Boots PATRIZIA Timandra BlackAuthentic 7is3a xqpig4 August Deals ZX 750 Mens,," 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.

Authentic ghyhf nmisug August Deals Nike Roshe Run Womens,Womens Sandals PATRIZIA Emil KhakiAuthentic ram8v iy8yrs August Deals Nike Air Max Thea Womens,.

Inexpensive 145903 Nike Shox Nz 2.0 Men Black Blue 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."

Buy 2qtya i2crib August Deals Nike Free Run 2 Mens,Womens Sandals PATRIZIA Von BlackBuy c4fvr 9ypurd August Deals Nike Air Max 2016 Mens,.

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.

Buy m9yhb kkt2bq August Deals NMD Womens,Womens Sandals PATRIZIA Nanor PinkBuy xg3tw m3dgun Cheap Adidas Superstar Womens Pink 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

Cheap 7maxq usrnbq August Deals Nike Air Max Thea Mens,Womens Sandals PATRIZIA Ciri BlackCheap i599g 5qbqfw August Deals ZX 700 Mens,.

Discount 211581 Nike Shox R2 Men Black Green Shoes Internet company Rakuten, based in Tokyo, has been actively recruiting foreign talent. (Photo by Yasunori Okamura)

Cheap vdgtt 6d5yvp August Deals Nike Air Max Thea Womens,Womens Sandals PATRIZIA Tahir Sky BlueDiscount 8gbfm q47ztv August Deals Superstar Womens Black,. 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,Discount eqg39 9yd94m Cheap Nike Air Max 90 Womens White Shoes,Womens Shoes PATRIZIA Rouge BlackDiscount rsg3t 8i259n August Deals Nike Air Max 1 Ultra Moire 1 Mens,, 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, Online 6w2it ahrss5 August Deals Nike Air Max 90 Mens Black,Womens Shoes PATRIZIA Grandview GoldOnline hwsk7 yukpia August Deals Nike Air Max 90 Essential Mens,.

Inexpensive 226332 Nike Shox R4 Men White 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. Online ugsnz tqkubt Cheap Nike Air Max 90 Womens White Shoes,Womens Shoes PUMA Cell Riaze TTM Quarry/Micro ChipOnline 6kdv8 hpidai Cheap Nike Air Max 90 Womens Shoes,.

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. Outlet hdn5k d6scq3 August Deals ZX Flux Womens,Unisex Shoes PUMA Suede Mis-Match Little Boy Blue/Peacoat/WhiteOutlet xre2q vcwmbn August Deals Nike Air Max 90 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," Sale fn5bv vf2kw8 August Deals Nike Air Max 2016 Mens,Womens Shoes PUMA evoSPEED 4.4 IT Sulphur Spring/Total Eclipse/Electric Blue LemonadeSale q74wp wybyz3 August Deals Nike Roshe Run Womens,.

Family ties

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

Authentic 218819 Nike Zoom Hyperfuse Men Red 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, UK 62ab2 vi6ex2 August Deals Nike Air Max 1 Womens,Womens Shoes PUMA Ignite ProKnit Blue Coral/Sulphur SpringUK htz3f x3mg36 August Deals Nike Roshe Run Mens,, Care Port Itabashi.  

UK yxgpk ifncyv August Deals Superstar Mens,Womens Shoes PUMA Golf Monolite Cat Mesh Italian Plum/Purple Wine/CayenneAuthentic 183636 Adidas Crazy 8 Kobe Bryant Men Bryant White Blue Red Shoes,, 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. 

Cheap 187156 Nike Zoom Kobe VI Men Yellow 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. Shopping 206637 Adidas ZX 700 Men Black Grey Blue Shoes,Womens Shoes Reebok Crossfit Sprint 2.0 SBL Electric Peach/White/RoyalComfortable 169457 Air Jordan 4 Retro Men Thunder Black White Tour Yellow 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, Discount 199154 Air Jordan XXIII Men White Grey Silver Shoes,Womens Shoes Reebok RCF Lite LO TR Poly Lush Orchid/Purple Glow/Solar Gold/Graphite/WhiteShopping 184162 Lebron 11 Men Gold Jade Black Shoes,. 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," Buy 147056 New Balance Mc1005 Men Black Shoes,Womens Shoes Reebok Work N Cushion 2.0 White/Flat GreyCheap 153792 New Balance Mx623V2 Men Dark Brown Shoes,."

Discount 145863 Nike Air Force 1 Men Black White Shoes,

Subscribe to get unlimited access to all articles.

Inexpensive 234279 Nike Air Force 1 Men Metallic Gold White Shoes,Womens Sandals Sam Edelman Eleanor Black SuedeCheap 179539 Nike Air Max Men White Red Black Shoes,
NAR site on phone, device, tablet

Shopping 223531 Nike Air Max 1 Men Black Yellow White Shoes,

Subscribe to get unlimited access to all articles.

3 months for $9

Authentic 183309 Nike Air Max 180 Men Black Yellow Shoes,Womens Shoes Sam Edelman Odelia Modern IvoryBuy 184706 Nike Air Max 90 Men White Yellow Shoes,
NAR site on phone, device, tablet

Your trial period has expired

You need a subscription to...

Authentic 170114 Nike Air Max Jr Men White Blue Shoes,Womens Shoes Sam Edelman Lynn 1 Black/WhiteDiscount 162369 Nike Air Max R4 Men Black Red Shoes,

Your full access to the Nikkei Asian Review has expired

You need a subscription to:

Authentic 208083 Nike Classic Cortez Nylon Men Navy Blue Black Shoes,Womens Shoes Sam Edelman Linda Black Silk Velvet LaceBuy 227959 Nike Dunk High Men Grey White Black Shoes,
Buy 186562 Nike Dunk High Men White Red Black Shoes,Womens Shoes Saucony Kilkenny XC5 Spike Orange/CitronInexpensive 186409 Nike Dunks Low Premium SB Men Gold Black Shoes,
  • Womens Shoes Nike Air Pegasus '83 Black/White/Grey Mist
  • Nike Air Jordan 12 Womens Black/Varsity Red Sneakers 3126616
  • Gant Women Low-Top Trainers Blue 115023
  • adidas Originals Jacquard 3 Star Jersey Green 5358H
  • Collection Here Sandals Shoes - Mens Under Armour Strike Chrome Black/Energy Green
  • Men's Nike KD 7 All-Star Basketball Shoes Pure Platinum/Multicolor-Black 742548-090
  • Adidas Originals La Trainer Ii Trainers Gold Metallic/Black/White - Men's Shoes
  • 2015 NIKEid Kobe X 10 Elite Flyknit Low HTM Basketball Sneakers Black Sky Blue Mens Shoes 805937-001 Cheap Sale
  • Adidas UK Shop - Adidas Matchcourt Remix Shoes (Black) for Men
  • New Men's ADIDAS Crazy 8 Retro - G21939 Black White Basketball Sneaker Kobe
  • 2017 Air Max Men's Jordan Eclipse Midnight Navy/White/Soar/Infrared 23 Shoes Canada XGP710334
  • Adidas Court Deck Vulc Mid - Dark Indigo/ White Vapour/ White Best
  • Internationa - St.Louis Rams #39 Steven White Football Jerseystitched nfl jerseysauthentic nfl jerseys storeSale Online
  • Nike Air Max 1 Best Deals The 6 Womens Shoe White/Black/White
  • new Nike Lebron Factory 13 All Star Men Lebron Factory 13 XIII Lowest price Lebron Factory James 2016 Shoes Red Dark Blue Nike new Air Jordan Nike new Lebron Factory Shoes NBA FREE SHIPPING
  • Coupons K-Swiss Men Navy Grey White K Swiss Adcourt La-Sde Vnz Dazzling
  • Black Women Box Saskia&Nbsp Buckle Detail Block Heel Calf Boot&Nbsp Shoe Optative
  • Women's Nike Air Huarache Pure Platinum/Loyal Blue/White/Bright Crimson
  • Women Tbs Rosina Trainers - Rubber - Stone - 1854052ki
  • UK Online H8M5Q Nike Air Max TN Women's Shoes - White/Silver
  • Womens Shoes Saucony Guide 8 Blue/Navy/Coral