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Registered foreigners in Japan
Written by Maciamo on 31st July 2005

In 2003, there were 1,915,030 registered foreigners in Japan, representing 1.5% of Japan's population of 127 million. Most of them live in the Kanto (800,000 or 42%), Chūbu (400,000 or 21%) and Kansai (451,000 or 23.5%) regions.

Tokyo has the highest percentage of foreigners (2.8%), followed by Osaka (2.4%), Aichi (2.3%), Kyōto (2.1%) and Mie (2.1%). The prefectures with the smallest proportion of foreigners are Hokkaido (0.3%), Kagoshima (0.3%), Aomori, Akita, Kumamoto and Miyazaki (all 0.4%), or basically the 3 northermost and 3 southermost prefectures (apart from Okinawa).

From where do Japan's foreign residents originate ?

The greatest part of the foreigners living in Japan come from Asia (74%), with Korea (32%), China (24%) and the Philippines (10%) leading. Whereas the Korean population has been steadily decreasing over the past 15 years, the number of Chinese residents has tripled over the same period. In fact, there are now 10 times more Chinese and almost 40 times more Filipinos than in 1980. The Koreans are more numerous in Osaka and Kobe, while the highest number of Chinese and Filipinos reside in the Greater Tokyo.

South Americans make up the second largest group (18%). Many of them are Nikkei, or second generation Japanese who returned to Japan after their parents emigrated to South America after the Second World War. The 275,000 Brazilians and 54,000 Peruvians make up 95% of the South American residents in Japan and 17% of all foreigners. They mostly live in central Japan, particularily in the prefectures of Aichi, Shizuoka, Gifu, Mie, Nagano and Gunma.

Foreigners in Japan by nationality

Foreigners residing in Japan by nationality

Westerners living in Japan

In 2003, there were about 136,000 Western residents in Japan, including 60,000 North Americans, 51,000 Europeans (excluding Russia), 11,500 Australians, 4,000 New Zealanders and 3,700 Argentinians.

US citizens are by far the more numerous (48,000), although they only represent 2.5% of the total foreign population of Japan. Then come the British (18,000), Canadians (12,000), Australians (11,500), French (6,600) and Germans (4,900).

All Westerners in Japan only make up 0.01% of the Japanese population. However, 37% of the Westerners are to be found in Tokyo-to alone.

Proportion of Westerners in Japan by nationality

Westerners residing in Japan by nationality

Westerners in Tokyo

There are almost 50,000 Western residents in the Tokyo Metropolitan Area, with 22,500 Europeans (including 1,800 Russians), 21,500 North Americans, 4,000 Australians, 1,000 New Zealanders and 350 Argentinians.

The 5 most popular wards of residence for Europeans are Minato-ku (3,900), Shibuya-ku (2,500), Setagaya-ku (2,050), Shinjuku-ku (1,900) and Meguro-ku (1,250). The 5 least popular are Arakawa-ku (169), Katsushika-ku (218), Taito-ku (263), Kita-ku (291) and Adachi-ku (325).

North Americans show a strong preference for Minato-ku (4,700) as well, then Shibuya-ku (2,500), Setagaya-ku (1,900), Meguro-ku (1,160) and Shinjuku-ku (910). The most shunned districts are Sumida-ku (110), Arakawa-ku (137), Katsushika-ku (161), Taito-ku (165) and Kita-ku (172).

All in all, this shows that the South-West of Tokyo is the most favoured with Westerners, probably because it is the most upmarket and modern part of the city, and because most foreign companies are based in Minato-ku, Shibuya-ku and Sshinjuku-ku - as opposed to Chūo-ku and Chiyoda-ku for big Japanese companies. The North of Tokyo, bordering Saitama, is the least sought-after, maybe due to the prominence of big apartment blocks and distance from the big centres popular with Westerners like Roppongi, Shibuya and Shinjuku.

This article was written based on the data of the Japan Statistics Bureau of Registered Foreigners in Japan by Nationality, and the Tokyo Metrpolitan Government's Registered foreigners in Tokyo, as well as Honkawa Data Tribune.

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