Womens Saucony Trail Running Shoes - Nomad TR - Pink/Purple Item W1318 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

Naturalizer Women'S Jenah Narrow/Medium/Wide D'Orsay Flat - "White",Stylish Fly London Hews Sandals Black For Women Outlet UKNew Balance 574 - Women's - Running - Shoes - Grey/Red,. 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 Vazee Rush - Women's - Running - Shoes - Teal,Stylish Converse Chuck Taylor All Star Sequins Ox Gunmetal/White/Black Low Top Trainers Brown For WomenNew Balance Women W530AAF 530 90s Running Woods (teal / grey / navy),.

"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 Air Max 2015 - Women's - Running - Shoes - Black/Reflective Silver/White/Summit White,Stylish Geox Chewa A Low Top Trainers Pink / Gold For Women OnlineNike Air Visi Pro V - Women's - Basketball - Shoes - White/Black/Anthracite/Metallic Silver,, 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 Flex Trainer 5 - Women's - Training - Shoes - Cool Grey/Pink Pow/Stealth/Sport Fuchsia,Stylish Fericelli Marline Sandals Beige / Brown For Women OutletNike FS Lite Run 2 - Women's - Running - Shoes - Blue Lagoon/White/Tide Pool Blue,. Like other industries in a rapidly aging Japan, the construction business is desperate for labor. Nike Shox Vaeda - Women's - Running - Shoes - Wolf Grey/Vivid Pink/Black,Stylish Desigual Bio1-Flowers-Patch Mules Pink For Women OutletNike Women'S Flex Experience Rn 4 Prem Running Shoe - "Grey",. As baby boomers retire, the labor shortage -- in construction and in the wider economy -- is bound to become more acute.

Men's AVENGER Mesh Waterproof Comp Toe EH Work Boot Wide (GREY) 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, Nike Zoom Vomero+ 8 - Women's - Running - Shoes - Pink Force/Dark Grey/White,Stylish Hispanitas Sarah 7 High Boots Black For Women On SalePropet Women'S Eden Narrow/Medium/Wide Walking Shoe - "Bone",, 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.

Propet Women'S Lizzette Narrow/Medium/Wide Sandal - "Bone",Stylish Koah Martinah Sandals Nude / Yellow For Women Outlet UKPuma Womens Roller Roader Prep School (burnt olive / fuchsia purple),, Japan is in the midst of a quiet revolution when it comes to immigrant workers. Reebok Womens Freestyle High (black),Stylish Jonak Josua Derby Shoes Black For Women Sale OnlineRyka Women'S Devotion Training Shoe - "Silver",.

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, Skechers GO Walk 3 - Women's - Walking - Shoes - Hot Pink,Stylish Moony Mood Causette Ankle Boots Black For Women OnlineSperry Top-Sider Women'S Intrepid Boat Shoe - "Grey",.

Men's CAT Trademark Banner Tee ( YELLOW)

Immigration remains a politically charged issue in Japan, Spring Step Women'S Masha Wedge Slip On - "Black",Stylish Merrell Terran Lattice Ii Sandals Black For Women Outlet UKTimberland Women'S White Ledge Hiking Boot - "Brown",. "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. "NikeCourt Air Vapor Advantage HF86990 Women,Stylish Melissa Vw Dragon 18 Black Matt Orb Heels For Women OutletNike Zoom Winflo 3 LL18300 Women,."

Men's DOCKERS Reversible Belt (BLACK/BROWN) 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.NikeCourt Tennis Classic Ultra Deconstructed HC64738 Women,Stylish Pinaz Zara Espadrilles Yellow For WomenNike Pro Classic Padded Frequency Sports Bra Blue - Womens Sports Bras,. 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.

"Champion Authentic Cotton Bra Black For Women Outlet,Stylish Roberto Cavalli Wds211 Heels Black For Women OutletHot Women Under Armour Curry One 1 sneakers discounts en State Warriors Home Blue Gold White,, like all other countries, does have racist problems, but hate crime and hate speech are relatively Puma Leadcat Suede Puma Black Gold Men/Women Sandal Used Slides 365758-01,Stylish Ruby-Shoo Ruby Shoo June Low Heel Court Shoe Heels Black/Red For Women On SaleWomen Nike Reduced Air more uptemp For 415082-400 AU,," 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.

Men's ISLAND SURF Classic Boat Shoe (TAN)

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

2016 Sale Nike Air Max 2014 First Look Women's Shoes Rainbow,Stylish Vero Moda Vmvera Leather Boot Mid Boots Black For Women Sale Online2016 Sale Nike Air Max TN Womens Shoes White Blue,, and 60% are 65 or older. Most of their children have left for the city in search of better-paying office work.

2017 All Black Nikes Womens Men's Nike Air Max 90 Ultra Essential Black/Enamel Green/White/Resin Shoes Canada RCO3703063,Stylish Vans Era 59 Low Top Trainers Black For Women Sale2017 Black Womens Nikes Men's Nike Air Force 1 Cmft Signature Qs Wolf Grey/White/Game Royal Shoes Canada BMC9102831,, 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.

Men's LIFE IS GOOD Happy Hour Campfire Crusher Short-Sleeve Tee (DARKEST BLUE) 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, 2017 Exclusive Nike Trainers Women's Nike Internationalist Jacquard Cool Blue/Blue Legend/Hot Lava/Cool Blue Shoes Canada APR4404311,The Hottest Style Art Harlem Ankle Boots Black For Women2017 Nike Air Max 97 Women's Nike Air Huarache Run Print Black/Sail/Black/Artisan Teal Shoes Canada JQG0203965,, where the temperature can reach 40 C in summer.

2017 Nike Factory Store Women's Nike Flyknit Air Max White/Chlorine Blue/Pink Blast/Black Shoes Canada PWN1304176,The Hottest Style Airstep / A.S.98 Noa Sandals Old / Pink For Women Outlet2017 Nike Pink And Black Shoes Women's Nike Roshe Run Hi Sneakerboot Rose Shoes Canada QRC0704441,. He speaks basic Japanese, which he picked up watching anime series such as "One Piece" and "Detective Conan."

2017 Nike Shoes Online Womens Men's Nike Alpha Pro 2 3/4 D White/Black/Metallic Silver Shoes Canada AII3101117,The Hottest Style Bunker Koly Mid Boots Grey For Women Sale2017 Nike Trainers Online Women's Nike Internationalist Aviator Grey Silver Wing-hyper Jade-court Purple Shoes Canada LWS0804333,," 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.

2017 Shoes Women Nike Men's Nikelab Lebron Xii Elite X Pigalle White/Pure Platinum Shoes Canada CTC1101094,The Hottest Style Geox Euro C Mules White For Women Outlet UK2017 Women Shoes Nike Women's Nikelab X Sacai Air Max 90 Obsidian/Black/Obsidian Shoes Canada YZD6304508,.

Men's NEW BALANCE 420 Runner Running Shoes Silver (SILVER) 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."

2017 Womens Nike Shoes Online Men's Nike Dunk Cmft Premium Wolf Grey/White Shoes Canada MVZ2903283,The Hottest Style Les Tropadidas Performance Women's Shoes ADIPURE 360.2 CELEBRATION - Sports shoes - sharp grey/running white/neon green,.

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.

ASICS Women's Shoes GEL-KAYANO 20 - Stabilty running shoes - white/purple/mint,The Hottest Style Jonak Cavila High Boots Camel For Women Online SaleClarks Women's Shoes MEZZE ROSE - Cowboy/Biker boots - black,.

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

ecco Women's Shoes AIMEE - High-top trainers - moonrock,The Hottest Style New Balance W530 Low Top Trainers White For Women Clearanceecco Women's Shoes TRACE - Winter boots - amber,.

adidas Originals Flashback W Black Internet company Rakuten, based in Tokyo, has been actively recruiting foreign talent. (Photo by Yasunori Okamura)

Lacoste Women's Shoes LELEX - High-top trainers - white/dark grey,The Hottest Style Regard Rofap Flat Shoes Silver For Women OnlineNike Performance Women's Shoes FREE TR FIT 4 - Sports shoes - black/white/cool grey/wolf grey,. 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,Cheap Etnies Fader Low Top Trainers Black For Men,The Hottest Style Tuk Viva Derby Shoes Black / White For Women Outlet UKDesigner Geox Walee B Boat Shoes Sable For Men,, 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, Discount Nike Air Zoom Vomero 11 Running Shoes Black / Green For Men Online Sale,The Most Popular Chie Mihara Fax Sandals Blue For WomenLatest Nero Giardini Caracas Nero Low Top Trainers For Men Clearance,.

adidas Originals Tubular Shadow W Gray 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 Teva Arrowood Lux Mid Wp Hi Top Trainers Cognac For Men Outlet,The Most Popular Felmini Vaquelina Mid Boots Black For Women Sale OnlineShoes Relax W Low Top Trainers Black For Men Outlet,.

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. The Hottest Style Clarks Desert Crosby Derby Shoes Brown For Men Sale Online,The Most Popular Igi & Co Perla Nuvola Slip Ons Grigio For Women OutletThe Most Popular Hudson Franklin Derby Shoes Black For Men Outlet,, 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," Adidas x Junn.J Men ZX 8000 Low JJ (black / gold metallic / black),The Most Popular Melissa Peace Vi Sandals Black / Beige For Women Outlet UKClarks Malia Poplar,.

Family ties

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

Converse Chuck Taylor All Star II Ox Blue 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, Dr. Martens Leonore Chelsea Boot,The Most Popular Peter Kaiser Dusan Heels Black / Suede For WomenKEEN Betty Boot II,, Care Port Itabashi.  

New Balance M990BD - Made in USA,The Most Popular New Balance Wl520 Low Top Trainers White / Peach For Women SalePointer Conor (thyme / natural),, 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. 

Nike SB Air Zoom Stefan Janoski Leather Black

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. Skechers Upgrades Charcoal Silver,The Most Popular Tosca Blu Zerbi Low Top Trainers White / Black / Beige For Women Online SaleThe North Face Shellista Lace Mid Tnf Black Zinc 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, Timberland Earthkeepers Tilden Double Strap Light Brown Dry Gulch,adidas Adizero Ubersonic - Women's - Tennis - Shoes - Frozen Yellow/WhiteTommy Hilfiger Lorelai 2 Black Multi,. 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," Ugg Ayden Seagull Leather,adidas Barricade Team 4 - Women's - Tennis - Shoes - White/Night Sky/Flash OrangeUgg Dalessio Cream Suede,."

Ugg Keala Chocolate Leather,

Subscribe to get unlimited access to all articles.

Woolrich Artist Salt Marsh Black Buffalo Check,Birkenstock Women'S Arizona Footbed Sandal - "Black"Jordan Reveal SW75669 Men,
NAR site on phone, device, tablet

Nike Hyperdunk 2015 LL36074 Men,

Subscribe to get unlimited access to all articles.

3 months for $9

NikeLab Roshe Tiempo VI x Olivier Rousteing QH21084 Men,Carlos By Carlos Santana Women'S Lever Fringe Boot - "Black"Nike MercurialX Proximo IC TA74071 Men,
NAR site on phone, device, tablet

Your trial period has expired

You need a subscription to...

Nike Air Force 1 JR59074 Men,Coconuts Women'S Estrella Bootie - "Black"Nike Classic Cortez NY VW22576 Men,

Your full access to the Nikkei Asian Review has expired

You need a subscription to:

Nike Roshe One Flight Weight BR HT19871 Boys,Coconuts Women'S Maxwell Sandal - "Black"Juniors' AMBIANCE Long Sleeve Lace Off The Shoulder Top (BLUSH),
Kids' NIKE SB Fokus Skate Shoes (STEALTH LINE METER),Creative Recreation Womens Cesario (sky / brown / rust)Men's 5.11 INC Bike Patrol Polo (COMBAT GREEN/BLACK),
  • Womens Shoes PUMA The Suede Classic Lo Winterized Black/Bronze
  • Nike Blazer Premium Retro Womens Pink White Leisure Skateboarding Shoes 3128724
  • Clearance Shop Nike Blazer High-Top Shoes For Women Plus Velvet Red Light Blue J12f3933
  • Nike FC Crew Green 3195B
  • Economic Popular Casual Shoes - Mens PUMA Trinomic High Risk Red/Black
  • Men's Nike LunarGlide 7 Running Shoes Black/Orange 747355-402
  • Brave Soul Mens Fishnet Knit Silver Grey
  • Air Max 90 Mens Shoes Discount On Sale Black White
  • Adidas UK Shop - Adidas Dame Stripe Tee (Black) for Men
  • AK Sport 119 x 61 x 79 cm Table Football B01854XYAA
  • 2017 International Nike Shoes Men's Nike Zoom Speed Trainer 3 Black/Blue Lagoon/Black Shoes Canada ZTZ5603926
  • Adidas ZX Flux - Ch Solid Grey/Ch Solid Grey/Ftwr White 2017 New
  • Original Design - MLB Philadelphia Phillies Authentic 1993 Mitch Williams #99 Thronfl jerseys salenfl jerseys cheapentire collection
  • Cheap Nike Air Max 2018 Womens Black Purple
  • New Balance U410 Mens Trainers Grey 030 A79 Outlet
  • Converse Chuck Taylor All Star Madison Mono Unisex Shoes white
  • Beau Coops Kingstone - Tan - BE352SH91VOM - Women's Boots
  • Women's Nike Hypervenom Phantom II FG Hyper Turquoise/Racer Blue/Chalk Blue/Voltage Green
  • New Balance 1600 Womens & Mens Red White Grey Suede Shoes
  • Buy Cheap Women's Pearl Izumi Flash Hoody Black/Shadow Grey
  • Creative Recreation Womens Galow (grape vintage)