Japan Data

Record 1.66 Million Foreign Workers in Japan in 2019


A 13.6% year-on-year rise brought a new record of 1.66 million foreign workers in Japan in October 2019, many of whom are Chinese and Vietnamese.

There were 1,658,804 foreign workers in Japan in October 2019. The Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare announced that there had been a 13.6% increase in non-Japanese workers from 2018, as the total hit a new high for the seventh consecutive year. The top two countries, China and Vietnam, accounted for more than 800,000 people.

By nationality, the largest groups were Chinese with 418,327 workers (25.2%) and Vietnamese with 401,326 (24.2%). This was followed by 179,685 Philippine workers (10.8%), and 135,455 Brazilians (8.2%). Compared to 2018, the highest increases were seen with Vietnamese workers (a rise of 26.7%), Indonesians (up 23.4%), and Nepalese (up 12.5%).

Foreign Workers by Nationality

China (includes Hong Kong) 418,327
Vietnam 401,326
Philippines 179,685
Brazil 135,455
Nepal 91,770
South Korea 69,191
Indonesia 51,337
Peru 29,554

Created by Nippon.com based on data as of October 2019 from the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare.

By residence status, the largest group with 32.1% were those who had residence based on their situation, including permanent residents and spouses of Japanese citizens. A further 23.1% were technical interns, 22.5% were those holding permission to engage in activities outside of their visa status, such as exchange students, and 19.8% were people in specialist and technical fields, including artists, those engaged in religious activities, journalists, researchers, and qualified experts. A new status category for workers with “specified skills” was established in April 2019 and as of the end of October 520 people were registered under this status.

By industry, the highest number of non-Japanese workers with 483,278 (29.1%) were engaged in manufacturing. Other industries with large numbers included wholesale and retail with 12.8% and accommodation and food service with 12.5%.

Foreign Workers by Industry

Manufacturing 483,278 29.1
Wholesale/retail 212,528 12.8
Accommodation/food and drink service 206,544 12.5
Construction 93,214 5.6
Education/learning support 70,941 4.3
Information and communications 67,540 4.1
Health Care/welfare 34,261 2.1
Service (excluding other categories) 266,503 16.1
Other 223,995 13.5

Created by Nippon.com based on data as of October 2019 from the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare.

A 12.1% year-on-year increase led to a new record high of 242,608 companies employing foreign workers. A total of 587,435 (35.4%) were engaged at small businesses that had fewer than 30 employees. A further 375,423 (22.6%) worked at businesses with between 100 to 499 employees, 320,812 (19.3%) were engaged at places with more than 500 employees, and 306,567 (18.5%) at places with between 30 to 99 employees.

(Translated from Japanese. Banner photo © Fast&Slow/Pixta.)

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