How special are “we”?

The expatriate is often reminded how unique it is to be living in Japan.  After all, not every individual gets this opportunity.  But just how special are “We”?   Beacon Reports set out to discover the size and composition of the expatriate community.

“There are about 2 million foreigners living in Japan”, said Steve Burson, President of H&R Group, a company that provides multinational corporations with end-to-end transition services for company employees posted to Japan on 2-3 year assignments.   H&R organizes the move, secures local accommodation, and provides immigration assistance including obtaining a resident’s permit.  They also help inbound employees open a bank account, obtain a driver’s license, and lease furnishings if need be.   Steve estimates that 5,000 executives move to Japan each year with help provided by H&R or one of its competitors.

Foreign resident statistics for the year 2010 published by the MOJ recorded the presence of 53,855 executives sent by an overseas parent.  In total, the MOJ reported 1,811,124 resident foreigners in Japan.  This figure excludes tourists and short stay business persons of which there were 7,632,572.  Illegal immigrants are of course not accounted for.  The number of overseas executives seconded to Japan is therefore only 3% of all recorded resident foreigners.

Who and what comprises the remaining 1,757,269 resident foreigners?   78% were of Chinese and Korean origin.  More specifically 717,928 were Chinese and 416,000 were Korean.

North Americans made up the next largest contingent, numbering 131,569.   82% were U.S. citizens.

These were followed by 42,365 South Americans, of which two-thirds were Brazilian.

Table 1 below summarizes by size and geographic region the composition of resident foreigners.

Table 1.

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Table 2 reports the top 20 foreign residents by nationality.

Table 2.

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If you are a Westerner, you are one of about 250,000 other Westerners living amongst a population of 126 million Japanese citizens.  That is, Westerners represent less than .2% of the population of Japan.   I think that’s pretty special.

(Download the full MOJ foreign resident statistics in Japanese here or contact Beacon Reports for the same in English.)

For this article Beacon Reports interviewed Steve Burson, President H&R Group, H&R Consultants K.K., 2F, EXOS Ebisu, 1-24-14, Ebisu, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 150-0013






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