adidas Originals Brion Track Top CP3521 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 Cole Haan Jenni Ballet II Tango Red Suede,adidas Originals ZX Flux Slip On Trainer CP3995,Womens Boots ECCO Alta Tall Boot Black/Black,. 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 ECCO Abelone Stretch Slip-On Black/Black Soft Butter Shing Textile,adidas Originals ZX 8000 Boost Trainer CP4020,Womens Shoes ECCO Alicante Pump 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 Sandals GUESS Patrien Natural Leather,adidas Originals Los Angeles Print Trainer CP4103,Womens Shoes GUESS Heya Black 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 Boots Naturalizer Jamison Wide Shaft Banana Bread Wide Shaft Leather,adidas Originals Hamburg Trainer CP4177,Womens Sandals Naturalizer Vanish Caravan Sand Leather,. Like other industries in a rapidly aging Japan, the construction business is desperate for labor. Womens Shoes Naturalizer Narlene Natural/Gold Linen Fabric 2,Asics Gel-Lyte Speed Trainer CP4221,Womens Shoes New Balance WW999 Brown,. As baby boomers retire, the labor shortage -- in construction and in the wider economy -- is bound to become more acute.

Cheap 172127 Nike Zoom Kobe VI Men White Purple 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 New Balance Pacev1 Black/Hi-Lite,Converse Chuck Taylor All Star MA-1 Zip Trainer CP4295,Womens Shoes Nike Genicco White/Hyper Punch/Wolf Grey/Bright Mango,, 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 Nike Air Vapor Ace Fuchsia Flash/Fuchsia Glow/Hot Lava/White,Cruyff Pelota Suede Trainer CP4398,Womens Shoes Nike Air Max Sequent Blue Lagoon/Copa/White/Metallic Dark Grey,, Japan is in the midst of a quiet revolution when it comes to immigrant workers. Womens Boots PATRIZIA Stepwise Brown,Fred Perry Spencer Trainer CP4452,Womens Sandals PATRIZIA Akin Black,.

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 Shoes PATRIZIA Tumeric Black,Lacoste Marcel LCR Trainer CP4527,Womens Shoes PUMA Ignite XT Core Purple Cactus Flower/Periscope/White,.

Authentic 201017 Puma By Miharayasuhiro Tennis Men Black Shoes

Immigration remains a politically charged issue in Japan, Womens Shoes Reebok Royal EC Ride Fearless Pink/Light Pink/Midnight Blue/Navy/White,Nike Air Max Lunar1 WR Trainer CP4591,Womens Sandals Rocket Dog Gem Natural Carousel,. "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 Boots Sam Edelman Madge Mocha Latte,Nike Air Max Tavas Trainer CP4668,Womens Shoes Sam Edelman Ola Soft Nude,."

Cheap 154945 Nike Free 4.0 Unisex Black Gray 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 Sam Edelman Arizona Black Kid Suede Leather,Nike Kobe X 'USA' Trainer CP4752,Womens Shoes Saucony Ride 8 Silver/Purple/Blue,. 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 Timberland Authentics Teddy Fleece Fold-Down Dark Brown Nubuck,Nike Zoom Stefan Janoski Canvas Trainer CP4837,Womens Boots UGG Bailey Bow Bling I Do! White,, like all other countries, does have racist problems, but hate crime and hate speech are relatively Womens Boots UGG Brielle Black Leather,Nike Air Max Tavas Leather Trainer CP4876,Womens Sandals UGG Kayla Marlin Nubuck,," 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 147175 Air Jordan VII Retro Women White Red Blue 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 Boots Vaneli Larinda Black Nappa/Mtch Elastic/Gunmetl Buckle,Reebok Furylite Chukka Trainer CP5001,Womens Sandals Vaneli Dandy Multi Darry Print,, and 60% are 65 or older. Most of their children have left for the city in search of better-paying office work.

Womens Shoes Vaneli Raster Mule Moro Brown,The North Face Hedgehog FastPack Lite Trainer CP5047,Womens Shoes Vaneli Tawnee Ecru Mag Patent/Mtch Gross Grain,, 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.

Discount 244456 New Balance WX20V3 Women Purple Yellow 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 Sheary Mimetic Canvas,Y3 Sprint Trainer CP5131,Nike Rivalry,, where the temperature can reach 40 C in summer.

Nike ENMY Fleece,adidas Originals Womens Adilette Slide Sandal CP5207,Nike Tech Fleece Windrunner,. He speaks basic Japanese, which he picked up watching anime series such as "One Piece" and "Detective Conan."

Men's FC Bayern Fleece Hoodie,Womens Shoes adidas Barricade Team 4 White/Night Sky/Flash Orange,Ferrari Team Polo,," 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 Pro Hypercool Fitted,Womens Shoes adidas Courtset Grey/Sun Glow/White,Men's FC Bayern Home Replica Player Shorts,.

Buy 229870 Nike Air Max 90 Women Blue Grey White 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."

Golf Women’s Sweater,Womens Shoes adidas Running CC Fresh 2 W Night Flash/Silver Metallic/Glow Purple,Nike Pro Cool Three-Quarter,.

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.

Nike Zoned Sculpt,Womens Boots Aerosoles Thermal Brown Fabric,Various Sizes Nike Rosherun Dyn FW QS Lovers Ultralight Pulling Wire Mesh Low Light Gray Light Yellow Running Shoes Fh68Lh1E,.

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

Authentic 46gzp hu8tgv August Deals ZX Flux Womens,Womens Sandals Aerosoles A2 by Aerosoles Wipline Coral Snake,Authentic gr4y8 dgt29i Cheap Nike Air Max 90 Womens Black Shoes,.

Inexpensive 176719 Nike Dunk Low Women Red Skulls Red White Gold Shoes Internet company Rakuten, based in Tokyo, has been actively recruiting foreign talent. (Photo by Yasunori Okamura)

Authentic ufqz2 wm2q3g Cheap Nike Air Max 90 Womens Pink Shoes,Womens Sandals Aerosoles A2 by Aerosoles Heart Plush Silver Metallic,Buy ecuvq 5wzmrc August Deals NMD Womens,. 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 yqwb3 y4hr37 August Deals Nike Free 50 Mens,Womens Shoes Aerosoles Richmond Blue Snake,Cheap dsq3p ksg2zq 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, Cheap uikmg c99a8w August Deals Nike Air Max 90 Mens Black,Womens Boots ALDO Lillianne Bone,Discount a4ihu v2gsht August Deals Nike Air Max Thea Womens,.

Comfortable 146508 Nike Free Run 3 Women Gray Pink 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. Discount s8mq7 k8hits August Deals Nike Air Max 2015 Womens,Womens Shoes ALDO Huwet Black,Online cgwig r8mwm6 August Deals Yeezy 350 Boost Mens,.

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. Online u7cgs ppvg22 August Deals ZX 700 Womens,Womens Shoes ALDO Adelania Light Yellow,Outlet fqx7u eepx3y August Deals Nike Free 50 Mens,, 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 4nean 22airg Cheap Adidas Superstar Womens Gold Shoes,Womens Shoes Anne Klein AK Sport - Sloane Black,Sale khhw4 42whwr August Deals Nike Air Max 90 Mens Blue,.

Family ties

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

Adidas Originals JS Men Coupon_129 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 7q3qz p5zitn August Deals Superstar Mens,Womens Shoes Anne Klein AK7Don't Stop Natural,UK yymye p8fgg7 August Deals Nike Air Max 90 Essential Mens,, Care Port Itabashi.  

Discount 245896 Adidas Originals ZX 700 Men Red Yellow Shoes,Womens Shoes Anne Klein Noris Medium Blue/Cognac Fabric,Authentic 206010 Air Jordan Men White Black Royal 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. 

Asics Gel-Noosa Tri 8 Men Coupon_344

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. Comfortable 232662 Air Jordan Retro Men Concord White Black Shoes,Womens Shoes Badgley Mischka Seneca II Silver Metallic Suede,Discount 240511 Lebron 11 Men Brown Black Green 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, Authentic 225647 Nike Air Classic BW Si Men White Red Shoes,Womens Sandals C Label Coco-11 Black,Shopping 211881 Nike Air Force 1 Men White Orange 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," Comfortable 242407 Nike Air Max Men Dark Obsidian Blue Lagoon Green White Shoes,Womens Shoes C Label Tavi-1 Black,Comfortable 150447 Nike Air Max 1 Men Green White Gold Shoes,."

Cheap 211517 Nike Air Max 90 Men White Red Shoes,

Subscribe to get unlimited access to all articles.

Discount 194351 Nike Air Max Fly By Men Yellow Shoes,Womens Sandals Clarks Breeze Mila White,Buy 195947 Nike Air Max Wavy Men Black Shoes,
NAR site on phone, device, tablet

Buy 156217 Nike Dunk High Men Red Black Shoes,

Subscribe to get unlimited access to all articles.

3 months for $9

Inexpensive 152278 Nike Dunk Low Men Shoes,Womens Shoes Clarks Bassett Mist Burgundy Suede,Shopping 190342 Nike Free 3.0 V4 Men Orange Gray Shoes,
NAR site on phone, device, tablet

Your trial period has expired

You need a subscription to...

Shopping 158336 Nike Free Tr Fit Men Green White Black Shoes,Womens Shoes Clarks Haydn Juniper Navy Suede,Comfortable 177988 Nike Lebron 11 Men Gold Black Grey Shoes,

Your full access to the Nikkei Asian Review has expired

You need a subscription to:

Discount 223981 Nike Lunareclipse 2 Men Royal Blue White Green Shoes,Womens Boots COACH Odelle Smoke,Inexpensive 209829 Nike Shox Nz Men Black Pink Shoes,
Comfortable 204805 Nike Shox R4 Men Grey Black Shoes,Womens Sandals COACH Cottage Chalk Soft Vegan Leather,Shopping 236096 Nike Shox Rivalry Men White Pink Shoes,
  • Womens Shoes adidas Outdoor GSG9 Trail Black/Night Metallic/Bold Pink
  • Nike Air Leather Gold Shoes Saddle Oxfords size 10.5 US 44.5
  • Shine / Classy Plateform Pumps / Red
  • adidas Originals Stan Smith CF Women White
  • Nike Air Max 90 Hyperfuse Pink Blue Shoes
  • The Hottest Styles Isabel Marant Izia Fringed Scarf For Women Outlet
  • Online shopping ALL APOLOGIES 17Cm Polka Dot Jacquard - Black / White Men's Pants - 74TJ613
  • Nike Flyknit Trainer Chukka SFB Shoes Blue Lagoon Bright Crimson Gym Red Black For Men
  • 60% off Sale For New Balance 70s Running 420 Trainers Men 6692-6137
  • Purchase Mens adidas Performance Alphabounce 1 Trainers Shoes Grey
  • Comfortable Nike Zoom PG 1 Black Original White new Red
  • Nike Free45-0400
  • Reebok YourFlex Trainers Mens Black/White/Grey Sports Shoes Sneakers Footwear
  • Nike Air Jordan Retro 12 White University Blue Melo Girls Kids 510816 127
  • Earth Biscuit Nubuck Morolo Earthies WVZ260175
  • Boots Women Steve Madden Gerd Bootie Cognac Quality
  • Nike Jordan Flight Runner 2 Black Laser Orange Infrared 23
  • Women Khrio Gardenia N Trainers - Rubber - Metal Silver - 1448383ao
  • Bernie Mev Womens Shoes / Pewter Girls Shoes Bernie Mev Comfi Mary Jane open toe YH336933314