As the nation struggles with a shortage of workers and an aging population, this is the first in a four-part New Year's series examining Japan's immigration policy.

Tokyo-based Ips Inc. is a telecom firm specializing in business targeting Japan's 250,000 Filipinos, the third-largest foreign community in the nation. Masako Uemori, one of its top executives, has keenly felt major changes in the business environment over the past 10 years.

In 2006 the company launched a dispatch service that sends Filipino caregivers to day care centers for the elderly. At that time, few facilities were willing to use the firm's new service, Uemori recalled.