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Number of foreign residents in Japan

by Floro Mercene

2.56 million foreigners were living in Japan at the end of last year according to Japan’s Immigration Bureau. That is up 7.5 percent from the year before and is the highest figure since record-taking began in 1959.

Chinese are the largest group with 695,522 residents, 453,096 South Koreans came second, and followed by at 243,662 Filipinos. The biggest population of foreigners is in Tokyo.

The bureau says the number of foreigners who overstayed their visas increased for the 4th straight year to about 66,500. In many of these cases, people entered Japan on tourist or other type of short-term visas, but stayed in the country after finding work.

Even when you include foreign residents, Japan’s population still keeps falling. Japan is one of the most aged societies in the world, and is facing challenges like a shrinking workforce, and weak growth. Historically, Japan has been conservative about immigration, 2013 record show that only less than 2% of Japan’s population was made up of foreign nationals.

Unless there’s a massive expansion of immigration or a change in birthrates, the growing ranks of foreign residents at the current level won’t be enough to stop or reverse the demographic decline. Japan’s population is set to shrink to 100 million by 2050 from a peak of 128 million in 2010.

The government is encouraging more women and retired workforce to take on flexible part-time jobs. And more jobs for robots. Still companies have serious labor shortage and they are struggling to find people for job vacancies.

The population of foreign workers set a record of about 1.28 million in late October as Japan continued to rely on foreign trainees and students to make up for its labor shortage. A so-called internship program has been attracting cheap labor from Asia to farms and factories.

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