Study shows often overlooked prefecture has second-highest number of working foreign residents in Japan.

Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare has released the results of its latest study on the number of foreign nationals working in Japan, and statistic show that the demographic has reached an all-time high.

According to the data, collected at the end of last October, for the first time ever Japan’s foreign worker population has climbed past two million. Such statistics only go back to 2007, but given the dramatic shift in degree of internationalization in Japan since the late 1990s, plus Japan’s isolation from much of the rest of the world during World War II and the Tokugawa shogunate rule during the Edo period, it’ s safe to say that this is the largest foreign-born workforce Japan has ever had.

The number didn’t just barely eke over the two-million mark either, as the study showed 2,048,675 registered foreign employees within the country as of the end of October. Roughly one in four of those foreigners hail from the same country, Vietnam, which accounted for 518,364 workers, or 25.3 percent of the total. This was the fourth year in a row for Vietnam to be the number-one country in terms of foreign nationals working in Japan, and the country was followed by China (397,918 people) and the Philippines (226,846 people).

Much farther down the list were the U.S. (34,861) and U.K. (12,945), though as an examination of Japanese private sector workplaces, the study does not include U.S. military personnel and contractors working in Japan, even those who live off-base within Japanese civilian communities.

Proportionally, the largest increases compared to the previous year were in workers from Indonesia and Myanmar, which were up 56 and 49.9 percent compared to a year before, bringing their workers-in-Japan populations up to 121,507 and 71,188 people, respectively.

By prefecture, Tokyo had by far the most foreign workers, with 542,992 (26.5 percent of the total), followed by Aichi, with 210,159 (10.3 percent of the total). As a part of Japan that’s often overlooked by tourists, Aichi might seem like an unexpected cluster of internationality, but it’s a major manufacturing region, due in no small part to it being the home prefecture of Toyota, with both the automaker and its suppliers having several factories in the area around the prefectural capital of Nagoya.

By industry, the largest presence of foreign workers was found in manufacturing jobs, with roughly 552,000 workers hailing from overseas. This likely ties into the large number of workers from southeast Asia, as the relaxed residency requirements of the Japanese government’s Technical Intern Training Program, which began in 2017, have resulted in a large influx of southeast Asian nationals to the country.

Source: Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare (1, 2, 3) via TBS News Dig via Hachima Kiko
Top image: Wikipedia/Gryffindor
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