Japan Data

Record 1.8 Million Foreign Workers in Japan as of 2022

Society Economy

There are now 1.8 million foreign workers in Japan, which is well over twice as many as 10 years ago. Vietnam has overtaken China to become the largest source of foreign labor, while there have been rapid increases in the number of workers from Nepal, Indonesia, and Myanmar.

A report published by the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare shows that the number of foreign workers in Japan in 2022 reached a record high of 1,822,725 as of October 31. This is 95,000 more than the previous year, for a 5.5% year-on-year increase. By nationality, workers from Vietnam, China (including Hong Kong and Macau), and the Philippines totaled over 1 million, accounting for nearly 60% of all foreign workers.

Number of Foreign Workers in Japan

Workers from Vietnam numbered 462,384 (25.4% of the total), China 385,848 (21.2%), and the Philippines 206,050 (11.3%). Brazil, which has many citizens of Japanese ancestry, accounted for 135,167 workers (7.4%). The top three countries by year-on-year increase were Indonesia (77,889, up 47.5%), Myanmar (47,498, up 37.7%), and Nepal (118,196, up 20.3%).

Percentage of Foreign Workers by Nationality

A decade ago, in 2012, foreign workers numbered 680,000, of whom 40% were Chinese. Since that time, the number of workers from Vietnam has increased 17-fold.

By residence status, those with visas based on their status or position, such as permanent residents or spouses of Japanese nationals, accounted for 32.7% of all foreign workers; those with visas based on their profession or technical field—including jobs related to the arts, religion, media, research, or highly specialized professions—made up 26.3% of the total; technical internship trainees accounted for 18.8%; working exchange students and others employed under permitted exceptions to their residence status, were 18.2%; and those engaged in “designated activities” such as people on working holidays or candidates to be nurses or care workers based on economic partnership agreements accounted for 4.0%. The number of technical internship trainees decreased for two consecutive years in 2021 and 2022 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

By industry, the manufacturing industry accounted for the largest number of foreign workers, at 485,128, or 26.6% of the total, followed by wholesale and retail jobs at 13.1% and accommodation and food services at 11.5%.

Foreign Workers by Industry

Manufacturing 485,128 26.6%
Wholesale/Retail 237,928 13.1%
Accommodation/Food & Drink 208,981 11.5%
Construction 116,789 6.4%
Education/Learning Support 76,854 4.2%
Information & Communications 75,954 4.2%
Medical Care/Welfare 74,339 4.1%
Academic Research, Specialized/Technical Services 64,261 3.5%
Agriculture/Forestry/Fisheries 48,233 2.6%

Compiled by Nippon.com based on data from the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare. All figures as of October 31, 2022.

Compared to 2012, there has been a remarkable increase in the number of foreign workers in both the construction and medical/welfare sectors, with rises of over 100,000 and over 60,000, respectively.

The number of businesses employing foreign nationals reached a record high in 2022 of 298,790, up 4.8% year on year.

(Translated from Japanese. Banner photo © Pixta.)

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