Here’s a little something friend Mark S sent on to me after cleaning off his bookshelves:
Yep, according to some magazine in Feb 88 citing Tokyo Shinbun January 8, 1988, the most popular jobs for foreigners in 1984 were:
1. Entertainers and Pro Sports
2. People working in regular companies
3. Foreign-language educators
4. Cooks of foreign foods
5. Artists and artisans
6. Academics in higher education
7. Technical specialists (a mere 13 counted)
The article also mentions the concurrent Eikaiwa boom (with a snipe at why Japanese foreign language abilities seem to be going down).
It doesn’t mention the hundreds of thousands of Zainichi generational foreigners (probably by only counting “zairyuu gaikokujin”, even though only doing that still gives a very slanted account of how many foreigners are here), or the trades they engage in (entertainment, pachinko, regular corporate, and the olive-oil-style front businesses). And even if you total the numbers given, less than 15,000 people still seems artificially low. I guess either this is within Tokyo-to itself, or else bad social science isn’t only the province of the present day.
In any case, those were the days, for some. Now with the NJ population more than doubled since then, and most NJ residents are not from Anglophone countries (so lose the big gaijin noses whenever you try to depict a foreigner), I bet the highest number of NJ in one job sector would be factory worker.
Any other insights out there on the numbers then and now? Go for it. Debito in Sapporo