Published Dec. 26, 2020

The number of foreign nationals working in Japan continues to rise. There were more than 1.6 million such workers in 2019, and they have supported Japan's economy as its native-born labor force shrinks.

In April last year, the government created a new residency status called Specified Skilled Worker for foreign nationals engaged in basic labor to expand the workforce in Japan. The coronavirus pandemic has laid bare the flaws of an industrial model that relies on foreign workers, but Japan is taking its first steps toward opening the country to foreign workers.

Nikkei examines the conditions and challenges faced by people who have come to Japan from developing countries around the world in search of a better life.

Reporting conducted from January through August 2020.