Womens Shoes Clarks Daelyn Villa Purple Grey Suede 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

Nike SB Icon Yarn-Dye Pullover,Womens Shoes COACH Florabelle Pink Ruby Washed Tumbled Leather,Men's DGK Hoodie,. 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, Women’s Flower Hipster 2 Pack,Womens Shoes COACH Merilyn Black Cherry/Black Cherry Matte Calf/Sheep,Nike Shieldrunner Flash,.

"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, Active Training Dri-Release® Shorts,Womens Shoes COACH Moonlight High Top Black/Black Snake/Suede,Youth Manchester United FC Home Replica Player Shorts,, 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 Epic Block Fold-Over,Womens Boots Cole Haan Tali Luxe Bootie 40 Stormcloud Suede,NikeCourt Crew,. Like other industries in a rapidly aging Japan, the construction business is desperate for labor. Youth Climachill Shorts,Womens Sandals Cole Haan Cameron Sandal Black,UK Sale Nike Air PresMens Shoes High Red BkumPYzJ,. As baby boomers retire, the labor shortage -- in construction and in the wider economy -- is bound to become more acute.

Women's Shoe Nike Free Focus Flyknit 844817-601 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, Wholesale Trade Nike Air Jordan V 5 Womens Shoes White Blue EyVuaa3Q,Womens Shoes Cole Haan Air Tali OT Wedge 40 Punch Patent,Authentic 56gxh 3uhwgu August Deals ZX Flux Mens,, 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.

Authentic e7gtq 8gihvx August Deals Superstar Womens,Womens Shoes Cole Haan Sarina Ballet Black Snake Embossed/Patent,Authentic xxqum egp6mm August Deals Nike Air Max 90 Essential Womens,, Japan is in the midst of a quiet revolution when it comes to immigrant workers. Buy czh4n 8bdnvv August Deals Nike Blazer Mens,Womens Shoes Cole Haan LunarGrand Wing Tip Black/Optic White Splatter,Buy qighg q786h3 August Deals ZX 750 Mens,.

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, Cheap 8wv8g ca2qz5 August Deals Nike Roshe Run Mens,Womens Shoes Cole Haan Jenni Buckle Ballet II Sandstone Leather/Patent,Cheap n2i4g 7v4hhx August Deals Nike Air Max 90 Mens,.

Adidas D Rose 5 Boys Preschool White/Scarlet/Light Onix/Black Basketball Shoes V93987

Immigration remains a politically charged issue in Japan, Discount 462n6 2z6gec Cheap Nike Air Max 90 Womens Flower Shoes,Womens Shoes Converse CTAS Shroud Classic Cheetah,Discount e65bw yeaewc August Deals Nike Roshe Run Womens,. "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. "Discount w8by3 tdg9w3 August Deals Superstar Womens Black,Womens Boots ECCO Adel Mid Boot Espresso/Espresso,Online g4kz2 e8gzc6 August Deals Ultra Boost Womens,."

Nike Flex Experience 4 Boys Grade School Cool Grey/Metallic Silver/Team Orange Running Shoes V47152 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.Online weg3h 2qt9ma August Deals Nike Air Max 90 Mens Black,Womens Shoes ECCO Abelone GTX Slip On Coffee/Coffee,Outlet f36vq bp54x2 August Deals Nike Air Max 90 Womens,. 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.

"Outlet zctxr gx6x8c August Deals Nike Air Huarache Womens,Womens Shoes ECCO Dlite Ballerina Black,Sale ekpdc bcrvzi August Deals Superstar Mens Black,, like all other countries, does have racist problems, but hate crime and hate speech are relatively Sale tq5kb vrtxex August Deals ZX Flux Womens,Womens Shoes ECCO Sport Yura GTX Black/Moon,UK h5i3z 3db7wp August Deals Nike Air Max 1 Womens,," 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.

Adidas D Rose 5 Boost Mens Base Green/Gold Met/Scarlet Basketball Shoes V11884

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

Comfortable 232426 New Balance Kids 890V4 Kid Grey Orange Shoes,Womens Sandals GUESS Titaney Orange,Comfortable 185241 Adidas Originals Lifestyle Men Black White Shoes,, and 60% are 65 or older. Most of their children have left for the city in search of better-paying office work.

Authentic 206010 Air Jordan Men White Black Royal Shoes,Womens Shoes GUESS Hilarie3 Leopard Patent,Authentic 148040 Air Jordan Retro 3 Men Light Graphite Black 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.

Adidas Supernova Sequence 8 Mens Black/Iron Metallic/Solid Grey Running Shoes V21078 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, Buy 245593 Lebron 11 Men Grey Pink Green Shoes,Womens Boots Hunter Huntress Green,Comfortable 169503 Nike Air Classic BW Si Men White Pink Shoes,, where the temperature can reach 40 C in summer.

Cheap 160684 Nike Air Flightposite 1 Men Wheat/Brown Shoes,Womens Boots Naturalizer Brenna Black Smooth,Buy 190293 Nike Air Force 1 Men White Brown Shoes,. He speaks basic Japanese, which he picked up watching anime series such as "One Piece" and "Detective Conan."

Buy 207573 Nike Air Max Men White Black Red Green Shoes,Womens Sandals Naturalizer Finale White Leather,Buy 219895 Nike Air Max 1 Men Black Grey Blue 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.

Inexpensive 175230 Nike Air Max 90 Men White Blue Black Shoes,Womens Shoes Naturalizer Inspire White Pearlized,Shopping 240410 Nike Air Max Ltd Men White Black Red Shoes,.

Nike Air Max Ltd Mens White/White/White Running Shoes V95956 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."

Comfortable 213988 Nike Air Max Tailwind 4 Men Black Grey Pink Shoes,Womens Shoes Naturalizer Kaster Wine Suede,Authentic 206068 Nike Dream Season III Low Kobe Bryant Men Black White Red 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.

Shopping 147887 Nike Dunk Low Men Shoes,Womens Shoes New Balance W3190v2 Purple/Grey,Authentic 216046 Nike Dunks High Men 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

Shopping 192381 Nike Free Run Men Red Black Shoes,Womens Shoes New Balance WRC5000v2 Pink Zing,Cheap 242300 Nike Free Run 2 Men Gray Green Shoes,.

Nike Free Rn Flyknit Mens Black/White Running Shoes V31620 Internet company Rakuten, based in Tokyo, has been actively recruiting foreign talent. (Photo by Yasunori Okamura)

Cheap 210022 Nike Lunareclipse Shield Men Black Shoes,Womens Shoes New Balance Classics WL574 - Woven Collection Grey/Textile,Comfortable 207450 Nike Roshe Run Men Dark Blue Orange Electric Yellow Shoes,. 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,Buy 161758 Nike Shox Nz 2.0 Men Black Purple Shoes,Womens Shoes Nike Flex Fury Light Retro/Liquid Lime/Cyber/White,Inexpensive 232399 Nike Shox R4 Men White Black Blue Shoes,, 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, Authentic 153725 Nike Shox Rivalry Men White Blue Shoes,Womens Shoes Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 32 Menta/Liquid Lime/Ghost Green/Black,Inexpensive 151080 Nike Zoom Kobe V Men Yellow Black Shoes,.

Adidas Springblade Drive Womens Black/Neon Pink Running Shoes V23104 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. Shopping 152294 Nike Zoom Kobe V Men Black Gold Purple Shoes,Womens Shoes Nike Flex Trainer 5 Dark Grey/Hyper Orange/Steath/Metallic Silver,Buy 229179 Air Jordan 13 (Xiii) Unisex Black Red 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. Buy 191498 Adidas Originals ZX 700 Women Grey Collegiate Red White Shoes,Womens Shoes Nike Air Relentless 5 Dark Grey/Fierce Purple/White/Atomic Pink,Authentic 146756 New Balance Classics Wl574 Women Shoes,, 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," Cheap 162497 Nike Air Force 1 Women Black Pink White Shoes,Womens Sandals PATRIZIA Emil Orange,Buy 199295 Nike Blazer High Women Orange White Shoes,.

Family ties

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

Nike Air Max Tailwind 8 Womens Racer Blue/Chalk Blue/Hyper Orange/Black Running Shoes V70883 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, Discount 231439 Nike Dunk High Women Blue Shoes,Womens Sandals PATRIZIA Kochi White,Authentic 154465 Nike Lunarelite 2 Women Black Pink Shoes,, Care Port Itabashi.  

Adidas Originals JS Men Coupon_112,Womens Shoes PUMA Evader Geo Turbulence,Adidas Originals JS Women Coupon_319,, 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 Free 5.0 V4 Womens Black/Cool Grey/Wolf Grey/Anthracite Running Shoes V16080

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. Christian Louboutin Sale Women Coupon_483,Womens Shoes PUMA Asha Alt 2 Shine Blue Coral/Clearwater,Jimmy Choo Boots Women Coupon_693,.  

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, Jimmy Choo Sandals Women Coupon_909,Womens Shoes Reebok Work Beamer Low Grey,New Balance 1600 Men Coupon_1091,. 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," New Balance 574 Men Coupon_1291,Womens Sandals Rocket Dog Pascal Turquoise Gummy Bear,New Balance 420 Women Coupon_1420,."

Nike Derrick Rose Men Coupon_1626,

Subscribe to get unlimited access to all articles.

Men's Baseball Shoe Nike Lunar Trout 2 Turf 807122-414,Womens Boots UGG Briar Black Leather,Men's Football Cleat Nike Vapor Untouchable Pro 833385-801,
NAR site on phone, device, tablet

Men's Nike SB Stefan Janoski Max Unisex Shoe 631303-006,

Subscribe to get unlimited access to all articles.

3 months for $9

Men's Running Shoe Nike Free RN Distance 827115-018,Womens Boots UGG Patsy Black/Leather Suede,Men's Shoe Nike Air Foamposite One 314996-701,
NAR site on phone, device, tablet

Your trial period has expired

You need a subscription to...

Men's Shoe Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 32 (2015 Chicago Marathon) 815792-413,Womens Slippers UGG Cozy Knit Heathered Grey,Men's Shoe Nike Metcon 2 819899-003,

Your full access to the Nikkei Asian Review has expired

You need a subscription to:

Men's Shoe Nike Zoom Train Toranada 835657-370,Womens Boots Vaneli Jara Grey Nival Suede/Mtch Elastic,NIKE AIR MAX 95 Black/Poison Green/Dark Grey/Silver,
NIKE FREE TR 5 PRINT Pink Pow/Black/Volt,Womens Sandals Vaneli Darlene Black Suede,Women's Running Shoe Nike Air Max 2016 Print 818101-006,
  • Womens Boots Naturalizer Transform Dark Brown Smooth
  • Nike Zoom Cage 3 Clay Women's Tennis Shoe Grey FP3600083
  • Spring Step Lithium Women Ankle Boots Taupe 143231
  • Teva Hurricane 3 Women's Walking Sandals Purple COMUK:8148
  • The First Sort Nike Womens Free 5.0 Shoes Orange Womens 2769
  • Men's New Balance 998 Shoes Beige/Royal Blue/Red M998BT
  • On-line shop PETER NON Waxed & Brushed Suede Chukka - Red Men's Boots - 28LP374
  • Nike Roshe Run Premium Shoes Black Pine Midnight Fog Bright Crimson Enamel Green For Men
  • Best Nike SB Portmore Vapor Trainers Men 3818-3203
  • Provide Mens New Balance Ml009 Trainers Shoes Oliv
  • Canada Under Armour Speedform Apollo Vent certificate UA Men Running Game Black Blue Best Navy Navy Royal
  • Nike Free45-0394
  • ROXY / KARID 2 SWEATER OUTER LIMITS ANGORA ERJSW03140-TEE6
  • Reef Tan Camo/Blue Fanning Printss CHU807354
  • Nike Air Jordan Retro XIII 13 Barons White Teal Black Grey 414571 115
  • Easy Street Taupe Patent Sedonaz MJL141646
  • Boots Women Teva De La Vina Wool Riding Boot Brown Original
  • Nike Jordan 5 AM Soar Copa Midnight Navy
  • Women Khrio Bayol Trainers - Rubber - Saio Nero Vernice White - 3486494uo
  • Bandolino Womens Shoes / Brown Mix Shoes Bandolino Cranne Tall fashion Boots HH546278h1m