Back in March of 2007, the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare reported that the number of foreigners working at Japanese firms had hit a record high of 222,929 at the end of May 2006. Looking at the growth in figures at the time, it seemed reasonable to assume that the number of foreigners working at Japanese companies would hit the 250,00 mark sometime in mid-2008.
However, according to a report released by the ministry last week, the number of foreigners working at Japanese companies as of June 30, 2008 has hit 338,813. This is obviously a massive increase on what was seen in 2006, and MHLW has an explanation for that. The survey method itself has changed a bit, as the Japanese government now requires all firms with foreign employees to report their name, nationality and visa status to the ministry whenever a hiring or dismissal takes place.
We will most likely see a further boost in these numbers, as compliance with the new rules does not take total effect until October 1. At any rate, the figure show that 44.2% of foreign workers at Japanese firms are from China (149,876), 20.9% are from Brazil (70,809), 12.4% are listed as ?other? (42,046), 8.3% are from the Philippines (28,134), 7.1% are from the G8 plus Australia and New Zealand (24,210), and 3.9% are from Korea (13,106). In the case of Korea, ?? is the kanji used, which implies that special permanent residents are excluded from this survey. Finally, 3.1% of the workers hail from Peru (10,632).
Of the 338,813 foreign workers in Japan, 120,601, or 35.6%, are listed as being heads of household who hold contract worker or temporary worker status.