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1.82 million foreigners legally working in Japan, gov’t says

71 Comments

The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare says that as of last October, just over 1.82 million foreigners were legally working in Japan.

According to ministry data, there were 1,822,725 foreign nationals in the workforce, an increase of 95,504 or 5.5% over 2021, and the highest number since figures started being recorded in 2007.

Among the foreign nationals working in Japan, Vietnamese accounted for the highest number at 462,384, or about 25% of the total. The next highest were Chinese nationals with 385,848 workers, followed by Filipinos at 206,050.

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71 Comments
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Yet society hasn't collapsed and if anything, it's probably helping to keep the place together.

Honestly, if it was easier to get a visa and stay here, they're probably juts register and pay taxes like everyone else.

9 ( +20 / -11 )

1.82 million foreigners legally working in Japan, gov’t says

Those who doesn't work illegally still being considered contributing to the overall Japanese economy as cheap labor? Otherwise Japanese products and services won't have competitive price.

-2 ( +9 / -11 )

Is there a lot of illegal workers then?

-4 ( +9 / -13 )

Back in 1993, a neighbor of mine went to Japan to teach English conversation for a year and had saved. enough money to put down a robust deposit on a house when they returned.

I wonder how that would turn out for those with similar plans in 2023. Sadly, probably just enough for a economy plus plane ticket and small bottle of Nikka.

10 ( +27 / -17 )

Is there a lot of illegal workers then?

In 2019 there are  79,013, most of them are Vietnamese, Korean and Chinese.

https://www.isa.go.jp/en/publications/press/nyuukokukanri04_00084.html

8 ( +13 / -5 )

How many will be here in 10 years.

5 ( +16 / -11 )

I was one for three season so I was earning 200,000 yen a month. That is 600,000 yen a season. But I earn more off tips and free dinners and Together with free meal and drinks at most restaurants because at lease 3 time a week I would recommend a place when asked by clients. I then ask them would want me to book you in. So when other clients heard I was dropping off a mob the bus got full so these restaurants would have 12 people turning up because off me x that by 3 nights at week I was pushing 30 plus clients there way a week I had 3 place to take clients for dinner so these three Restaurants were get a great turn over only because of me. So when dropping off the bus load of a one restaurant I will go to either of the other two and get a free feed. This also went for Onsens I would have two onsen to choose from drop off a bus load at one then I will go the other and get in for free. I was eating out every night saving $30 to $50 a night on dinners and onsen. So really I was clearing 500,000 yen a month with tips and freebie. Since I started at the hotel there returning clients was up by 70% solely because how I was taken care of the client plus being a non drinker I did get stuck drinking with clients hence dropping of and going elsewhere for my feed. Now everyone was a winner the hotel returning clients were up 70% restaurants seat were always full and owner very happy. More money was getting spent solely because of my involvement. Plus there was resort far from town, I would get to now the girls stuck at resort after the shift having no car I would arrang one night a week a take a bus load of these Japanese girls into town some would do some shopping some want to visit restaurants and take them back to their resort Cortina being only one so getting to know these girls they would give me there free lift passes. Mate I had rig. Plus these girl would help me with my Japanese. One of these girl is my partner still after 12 years. Also I knew the girls at KFC at the central station at Tsugaike and always go a lunch of free KFC. Mate that was top job while it lasted.

-10 ( +6 / -16 )

Sooner or later Japan will be overpopulated by what they call us gaijins and there is nothing they can do about it

-6 ( +7 / -13 )

Long paragraphs are difficult to read.

I haven't worked for any company in 30 years. Run my own business.

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

Sorry Wallace and my English worst then bad

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

1.82 million, and I’m one of ‘em. And we’re here to stay! I’ve dug my grave, and I have one foot in it already.

11 ( +16 / -5 )

Just over 1.82 million legal immigrants. Then there must be several times more illegal aliens living here.

-5 ( +4 / -9 )

And just for the record, how many illegals are there? IIRC about 2 or 3 years ago it was reported on JT that there were close to 100,000, maybe more?

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Just over 1.82 million legal immigrants. 

Read the article again. It says nothing about how many immigrants, just the number of foreigners working here legally. Not all foreigners working in Japan are immigrants!

7 ( +9 / -2 )

It the returning foreigners on returning flights between Japan South Korea how they get an estimate. After 3 months your visa is up so foreigners work for cash fly out get their passport stamp and turn starting another 3 months stay. Why South Korea it the closest and cheapest flight way to do it. So they look at these returning foreigners who been here for 3 months then return a week later and in 3 months time they do it again

-7 ( +1 / -8 )

aaronagstringToday  06:23 pm JST “ 1.82 million, and I’m one of ‘em. And we’re here to stay! I’ve dug my grave, and I have one foot in it already. “

Hahah…(!) 頑張って, my friend.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Back in 1993, a neighbor of mine went to Japan to teach English conversation for a year and had saved. enough money to put down a robust deposit on a house when they returned.

I wonder how that would turn out for those with similar plans in 2023. Sadly, probably just enough for a economy plus plane ticket and small bottle of Nikka.

An additional factor hindering a robust down payment on a home in the U.S. by a returning English teacher would be the 30% increase in average U.S. home prices from 2020 to 2022.

10 ( +11 / -1 )

Back in 1993, a neighbor of mine went to Japan to teach English conversation for a year and had saved. enough money to put down a robust deposit on a house when they returned.

I think that tells you more about 1993 house prices than it does about wages in Japan.

In the UK, the average house price in 1993 was about 50k. Now its close to 300k.

11 ( +12 / -1 )

So, how this compares with other countries of comparable economy? specially on the amount of money the foreigners make, after all the residence permits require companies employing the foreigners to fill out the salary they are making so it is not like this information is difficult to get.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

The more interesting question for me is rather: how many of those foreign workers stay really for longer (10+)?

My conclusion after working for more than 3 years as a manager in Japanese automotive industry is: Japan itself and the long-term outlook is far from being enough considering all those strange things, burdens and hurdles happening in daily life and will also come up in future.

Almost nobody, who has no real Japanese roots, a Japanese wife/ husband, kids or anything else close to his heart, can really stay here for longer or forever.

-2 ( +5 / -7 )

Does this number include those working the farms, construction or factories under the "trainee" visa who are paid low wages that some resort to part-time work to augment their income?

1.82m registered foreign workers is still a low number for a country with an aging population.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

They are contracted workers on word permits or visas

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

Japan’s economic miracle died a long time ago.

Anyone coming here thinking to get rich or save a house deposit is going to be sorely disappointed

-4 ( +7 / -11 )

As comparison example the next biggest country/economy be GDP, Germany.

About 84mill People in Germany.

11m+ foreigners living there. German is of course more accessible than Japanese, but not exactly one of the most easy languages either. And like in Japan, you sort of have to speak the local language (you get further with only English than in japan though).

Obviously a lot of the foreigners there are just EU citizens who don't even need Visa.

The main difference is that in Germany its not just so much cheap labor. Germany pays more in general and people there have a higher purchasing power than in Japan.

Japan is just so attractive for many Asians as its the closest of the big economies. But in reality if compared to other G7 nations there are not many foreign nationals working/living in Japan.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

And what of the illegals who keep construction, docks, manufacturing, agriculture, transportation, and other less savoury activities supplied with cheap, benefit-less labour; which the authorities turn a blindeye to, as these low wage workers are necessary.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

1.82 Million only ?

It would be interesting to see the demographic breakdown of Foreigner concentrations around Japan.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I'm sure the average salary would be close to the poverty line.

-8 ( +3 / -11 )

Why? Why bring out the number of 1.82 million foreign workers working legally in Japan? Are they taking away jobs from Japanese workers? Are they doing jobs Japanese workers cannot do? Are they welcome in Japan?

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Most of them cheap labor, tell the truth.

Increasing like in all developed countries by the way, so owners can get rich while all wages stay low.

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

Why? Why bring out the number of 1.82 million foreign workers working legally in Japan?

What a strange question. Pretty much every country keeps demographics on the people living in their nation so they can effectively provide for the needs of the people of the nation. This isn't something special to Japan.

Are they taking away jobs from Japanese workers?

Not usually.

Are they doing jobs Japanese workers cannot do?

Sometimes

Are they welcome in Japan?

If they are in Japan legally and have a visa, than yes, they are welcome in Japan.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

yeah nah just fell into lap by doing the right by the local and they would not allow me to pay and American are that dumb or nice for tipping extravagance. that alone was a wage when people keep pushing 10,000 yen’s notes into your pocket you be a fool to say Nah keep it. But the Aussie were not dumb but lonely they alway want to buy you dinner and drinks but would never tip and the TripAdvisor comments were worth gold. The resort worker Girl were very thankful that a trustworthy bloke would arrange once a week transport into town to buy their personal item or to get away from their 4 girl per room existence which the resort boss refuse to do. Sounds like your jealous or. New Zealander client, who were alway wanting extras but had very short arm and long pocket.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

tracking aliens or immigrants?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Good for them..

Be nice..

Obey law..

Work hard..

Stay legally in Japan..

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

They are contracted workers on word permits or visas

You really should get out an see the world, instead of just sitting behind a computer screen.

What about the people here who are NOT contracted workers, nor on work permits (have no idea what those are) or work visas.

Legally...... spouses, students, people who have pr, none fit into the square peg you are trying to fit into a round hole.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Anyone coming here thinking to get rich or save a house deposit is going to be sorely disappointed...

I work with people recently arrived from London, Singapore, Hong Kong, Toronto, Vancouver and Sydney, and they tell me the opposite: their hometowns have become unlivable for local working people and that Tokyo is a wonderful bargain.

That number will need to increase dramatically...

I think it's possible the number will fall. Most Japanese members of the public and government think the number is too high now. The new work permits are 2 years extendable to 4, so yeah.....

3 ( +4 / -1 )

They must be desperate to choose Japan over Australia, NZ, Canada etc. In these countries, they'll get paid more, have more spacious accommodation, be more accepted (especially NZ) and, be supported by the government, use a language they already know (English).

That's not necessarily true, but regardless, it's irrelevant, as the overwhelming majority of foreigners in Japan are not from those countries, but rather from China, Korea, Vietnam, the Philipines and Brazil, all countries with lower income levels than Japan.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

I'm just wondering why they would choose Japan over more developed nations like NZ and AU. Socially, politically, developed not economically I mean.

All sorts of reasons.

Art, culture, food, adventure, work transfers, family etc. There are all sorts of reasons. Japan is a first-world nation, with the third largest economy in the world, it's a very desirable place to live.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

I'm just wondering why they would choose Japan over more developed nations like NZ and AU. Socially, politically, developed not economically I mean.

What's your reason?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I'm just wondering why they would choose Japan over more developed nations like NZ and AU.

A friend from the UK told me that Tokyo is probably the only global capital where a young middle class person can buy a detached house (without family or other extra financial assistance) in a central area. A college instructor, he owns a house in a really good area of Tokyo, something he couldn't do in London.

I worked with a woman who took a job in Singapore, which is supposed to do everything right, in contrast to Japan that supposedly gets everything wrong. She was living in her own 2Ldk apartment in Meguro. In Singapore, she has had live in a shared condo with a stranger due to affordability. Same job as before, too.

So yeah, kinda obvious why people prefer to live here.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Love Japan: tax rate for non nationals in Aussie is 49% accommodation in cities $500 usd a WEEK, eating out for a family at Mac $100 usd. Transport twice expensive than Japan. The list go on. No a affordable country for non nationals

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

What makes them choose Japan seriously?

They must be desperate to choose Japan over Australia, NZ, Canada etc. In these countries, they'll get paid more, have more spacious accommodation, be more accepted (especially NZ) and, be supported by the government, use a language they already know (English).

My wife lived in OZ for a year and didn't want to come back, but her visa wouldn't allow her more than a year of working holiday. All my family moved to Canada, so going home to the UK is not really an option anymore, but we are trying so very hard to immigrate to Canada.

Yes, the cost of living is attractive at the cost of some of the luxuries you get in Western nations that you can probably live without. I did for 15 years, but we have small children, including a little girl, and that's where we draw the line. The dangers are too great especially for our little girl.

I agree. What keeps me up at night is the worry over my children's future. I fear that I will have to bring my kids up here, and I personally believe that anyone of the 3 countries you mentioned above are WAY better than Japan. In my case though, I have no family in OZ or NZ so going there is not really feasible, but I do have a welcome wagon waiting for us in Canada if we could just only get there.

Japan is a first-world nation in a few regards including economically and industrially but a second and even third-world nation with regards to women's safety and empowerment, education, politics, overall social progressiveness, freedom of the press the police and the justice system etc.

Agree 100%

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

LoveJapan more than doubled the minimum wage. $22:00 an hour or $17 USD. Plus 10% super on top for every hour work. Still more expensive than Japan. Take car can get anything under 1200 cc . Tax per year on that car is $700 a year. Gas elect double of the last 2 years. Like I said it cheaper here just get a job paying 2000 ¥ a hour and it sweet here but you go out backwards on anything under $30 an hour for a non nationals in Aussie. I live there I have place inside a national park the village on he beach with 100 population 24 km to the near shops so in and back 50 km this place cost $300 a week a good 300 km south of Sydney.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Is the slave...pardon, training program included ? How many in part-time job ? More details would be appreciated.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Yeah nah I am hick I try better sorry

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Wonder how many from 1.82M pay the right taxes and contribute to social security fund.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

trinklets2

Wonder how many from 1.82M pay the right taxes and contribute to social security fund.

Are you one of them?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

LoveJapan

Perhaps it is more difficult for foreign workers to set up their own businesses in Japan.

Not from my personal experience over 30 years.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Over 200,000 Brazilians live in Japan, of course many are families, so children are included in the total. Minimum wage in Brazil is R$ 1,302 that makes 32,550 yen a month! Despite the low salaries in Brazil there are millions of unemployed people and millions of workers in the informal economy. Over 70 million Brazilians are bankrupt, some "lucky" Brazilians who are Japanese descendants get a visa to come to Japan. I worked in companies where over 95% of workers were from Philippines, Nepal, China, Vietnam, Brazil, very few Japanese (floor factory). Japan has an agreement with Brazil, so, the time we work here counts in Brazil (and the opposite) for retirement purposes (and also a tax agreement). So, I am grateful for Japan being a country that is open to alien workers.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

@wallace, I do think I'm one of the legally working foreigners here. Have had my permanent residence visa since 1998. But since the article doesn't differentiate trainees from immigrants/longterm residents, I do think I'm one of the 1.82M. And just to satisfy your inquisitive mind, I do pay all my taxes and insurances since I'm still working even I'll be 66 this yr.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

wallaceFeb. 15  12:08 am JST

Not from my personal experience over 30 years.

You're only one of the 1.82 million. So, too small a sample.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

There's a lot of interesting comments from many about why live in Japan...

I wonder how many of those with Positive comments have lived here for, a long time... say 10+ years.

A decade or two ago, Foreign Companies paid really well for ... Foreign Workers with then needed Skillsets. Nowadays, there's much less need, and Foreigners are essentially the same as local Japanese. The days of the Expat package in Japan, have long since gone.

So is it really worth coming here ?

I guess, it's down to your own personal choice, not what others say life is like.

Staying for the long run, however, definitely requires some hard thought - especially if you don't want to get trapped in the typical Schooling/Family/Social trap - and consider, what happens when / if - you loose your employment, can you get something new, or will relocating somewhere else be easier, or a complete nightmare ? These thoughts should be pretty much the same within other Countries too.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

@Makoto Shimizu, like you and most of us are here mainly for economic reasons. Just sad to note that there are some who come and work here with political motive undermining the J economy like termites ruining the very house they live.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

South Korea has a much higher illegal immigration rate.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posters don't understand that an entire class of successful legal immigrants with full citizenship would threaten the Japanese power structure. Imagine what happened in NYC when the Jews, Italians, and Irish ousted that ruling class happening in a major Japanese city. Do you really think the Japanese government would let that happen?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I read on the Japan Times website today that the Japanese government will be issuing special visas to attract "high-earners" and graduates from prestigious universities. Why would a high-earner work and live in Japan for the long term? Why would a high-earner in his prime earning years be in Japan?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I read on the Japan Times website today that the Japanese government will be issuing special visas to attract "high-earners" and graduates from prestigious universities. Why would a high-earner work and live in Japan for the long term? Why would a high-earner in his prime earning years be in Japan?

For any of the reasons that people like Japan, that matter to people who aren't single-mindedly focused on money money money. And it's not like salaries in Japan are third world - it's the third biggest economy in the world after all - there is just potential to make more elsewhere. But then you have to live in that elsewhere, and not Japan.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

"For any of the reasons that people like Japan, that matter to people who aren't single-mindedly focused on money money money. And it's not like salaries in Japan are third world - it's the third biggest economy in the world after all - there is just potential to make more elsewhere. But then you have to live in that elsewhere, and not Japan."

Sure, but then they would not be high-earners, would they? A high-earner, by definition, is single-mindedly focused on money.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Sure, but then they would not be high-earners

They would be if they were earning high salary by Japanese standards.

A high-earner, by definition, is single-mindedly focused on money.

Really? Are you sure about that? Is it not defined by one who earns a high amount?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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