Number of foreign workers in Japan hit record high

NHK -- Jan 28
Japan's labor ministry says the number of foreign workers in the country hit a record high of more than 1.72 million at the end of October.

The ministry on Friday released data on foreign workers, based on employers' reports as of the end of October 2021.

The number of foreign workers stood at 1,727,221. But the pace of increase from the previous year slowed to 0.2 percent due to the coronavirus pandemic.

By status of residence in Japan, the number of foreign workers who are descendants of Japanese or spouses of Japanese nationals was the largest, at 580,328. The figure is up 6.2 percent from the previous year.

The second-largest group, technical and academic professionals, totaled 394,509, up 9.7 percent.

The number of foreign technical interns fell by 12.6 percent to 351,788. It was the first such drop since 2007, when it became mandatory for firms to report data on employment of foreign trainees. Prospective foreign technical interns faced pandemic-induced entry restrictions.

By nationality, Vietnamese accounted for the largest proportion of foreign workers, at 453,344, or 26.2 percent of the total. Chinese came in second, at 397,084, or 23 percent.

A labor ministry official says many companies have been accepting foreign interns to fill a labor shortage, and that a drop in the number of trainees could have a broad impact, especially on manufacturers.

The official says the ministry will continue efforts to improve the environment for foreigners working in Japan.