MOJ: Japan sees record registered foreign residents, 2.23 million in 2015; but watch J media once again underscore their criminality


Books, eBooks, and more from Dr. ARUDOU, Debito (click on icon):
Guidebookcover.jpgjapaneseonlyebookcovertextHandbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)sourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumbFodorsJapan2014cover
UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito
DEBITO.ORG PODCASTS on iTunes, subscribe free
“LIKE” US on Facebook at
If you like what you read and discuss on, please consider helping us stop hackers and defray maintenance costs with a little donation via my webhoster:
Donate towards my web hosting bill!
All donations go towards website costs only. Thanks for your support!

Hi Blog.  Here are the latest numbers of registered NJ residents, i.e, those people who are not tourists who have registered addresses in Japan.  After a dip for a couple of years, the numbers are back on the rise to record levels.

Typically, sees this as good news, and it is:  Japan needs more NJ residents (and Japanese of international roots) or, as I argue in Chapter 10 of “Embedded Racism”, it won’t survive.  But it’s never portrayed as good news in the media, where it counts.  Even when it’s put through the lenses of the foreigner-friendly Japan Times, the bias of the Justice Ministry still seeps through.

Consider the article below.  After giving the numbers and some speculation about what is bringing more NJ to Japan again, we get into what NJ are doing here.  As “Embedded Racism” Chapters 5 and 7 describe, it’s never a matter of what good NJ residents are doing:  It’s always what sort of mischief they’re up to.  Because when you have a government with no Immigration Policy Bureau to institute a viable immigration and assimilation policy, and instead have a policing agency solely entrusted with “administrating” foreigners in Japan, naturally you’ll get an embedded mindset that treats everyone as a potential criminal.  (Or, as described on before, the MOJ’s “bunker mentality” towards the outside world.)

Just read the article below.  Feel the criminality steadily creep in and have the last word.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

Japan sees record high number of foreign residents: Justice Ministry

The number of foreign residents in Japan reached an all-time high last year, the Justice Ministry reported Friday.

There were 2.23 million long-term and permanent foreign residents in Japan as of the end of last year, up 5.2 percent from 2.12 million people at the end of 2014, according to the ministry.

It was the highest number since the ministry began keeping data in 1959.

The largest group by nationality was Chinese, with 665,847 people, accounting for almost 30 percent of foreign residents in Japan, followed by 457,772 South Koreans and 229,595 Filipinos.

An immigration bureau official said the surge in foreign resident populations is linked to a government campaign to draw more foreign visitors, as well as signs of economic recovery.

“The number of foreign visitors in Japan increased dramatically last year . . . At the same time, we also have an increasing number of foreign residents” who intend to stay in the country for business or study, the official said.

The number of visitors from overseas reached a record 19.73 million people last year, according to the Japan National Tourism Organization.

Meanwhile, the number of residents who had overstayed their visas has also increased.

The ministry reported that there were 62,818 foreign nationals overstaying their visas as of Jan. 1, up 4.7 percent from the same date last year.

This marks the second year the figure has risen. Last year’s increase was the first in more than two decades, and the trend comes despite recent efforts by the ministry to crack down on overstayers.

Among overstayers, South Koreans were the biggest group with 13,412 people, followed by Chinese with 8,741, and Thais with 5,959. The largest increase was among Indonesian overstayers, with a 77.1 percent surge year on year. The country ranked seventh among overstayers overall, with 2,228 people.

The official said this resulted from a jump in visa waivers to Indonesian tourists in December 2014. In 2013, before visa requirements were eased, only 113 Indonesians overstayed their visas. The number increased slightly to 164 in 2014, but spiked almost tenfold in 2015 to 1,200 people.

By visa type, short-term visitors — mostly tourists — were the biggest group with 42,478 people. But a significant surge was seen among people arriving as interns for the government’s foreign trainee program: 5,904 such people were found to be overstayers, a rise of 26.2 percent from last year.

The official said the result reflects the recent trend of an uptick in the number of foreign trainees fleeing workplaces, which hit a record 5,803 in 2015.

The foreign trainee program has been often criticized for the harsh labor conditions of foreign interns, who are often forced to work overtime, and for extremely low wages.

The ministry also said 3,063 illegal immigrants have been served deportation orders as of Jan. 1, of which 1,406 people were applying for refugee status.


Do you like what you read on  Want to help keep the archive active and support’s activities?  We are celebrating’s 20th Anniversary in 2016, so please consider donating a little something.  More details here.

23 comments on “MOJ: Japan sees record registered foreign residents, 2.23 million in 2015; but watch J media once again underscore their criminality

  • Jim di Griz says:

    Number of visitors ‘up 5.7%’, number of visa overstayers ‘up 4.7%’.

    That represents a DECREASE in the rate of overstayers. I would have thought all that Waseda and Todai crowd could have managed such simple mental athletics…

    …nah, who am I kidding?

  • Florian in TKY says:


    2016年03月29日 14時19分

  • “..An immigration bureau official said the surge in foreign resident populations is linked to a government campaign to draw more foreign visitors, as well as signs of economic recovery….”

    All one needs to know about the article is written in this sentence…hahaha..fantasy land.
    Surge..hmmm… in real figures +0.1% of the population wow, what a ‘surge’…an economic recovery….oh gesss..where to start on that one!

    “..The official said the result reflects the recent trend of an uptick in the number of foreign trainees fleeing workplaces, which hit a record 5,803 in 2015.
    The foreign trainee program has been often criticized for the harsh labor conditions of foreign interns, who are often forced to work overtime, and for extremely low wages….”

    Ya don’t say!!….so running away is seen as more of a crime than the actual criminal behaviour of said companies. I can now see the surge in foreigner workers coming like a tsunami….

  • Baudrillard says:

    “..An immigration bureau official said”- so it’s just one Oyaji’s cliched take on a statistic. “official” is a weasel word in Japan, as it makes people sheepishly take it as gospel.

    yep, the one Official is an Erai hito. So we must Obey….

  • Baudrillard says:

    Abe’s return to the 80s has come to fruition in terms of how Japan is perceived, but without the economic power of those times. Thus once again, Japan is seen as weird, out there, a bit racist or isolationist, and any Nj showing interest in going there is even mildly discouraged by any Japanese friends who point out visiting and actually living there/being accepted are two different things.

    That’s what they told me in the 80s, but I didnt listen. I was in my honeymoon phase and besides, Japan did have money. But not now;

    “Nick, who works as head teacher at a small Japanese-run school in Sendai, says he is finding it hard to hire. “They’re not coming to Japan, they won’t work in eikaiwa, they don’t want to work in Sendai, and they are staying away from our school because at every point they look at it and it doesn’t pay enough,” he says.”

    “They’re not coming to Japan”- so its not just unskilled workers on the foreign trainee program. Seriously, why come to Japan for low wages AND a hard time? Other than love and marriage, I cannot see any reason to stay here.

  • Q) How many individuals does the MoJ database state have been issued currently valid Zairyū Kādo?
    A) THAT would be the total number of legal non-Japanese-citizen foreign residents in Japan, right?

    And to learn the official TOTAL residents of Japan, how many humans are in the Jūminhyō database?
    So (humans issued currently valid Zairyū Kādo) ÷ (humans in Jūminhyō database) = foreign resident %

    “Long-term and permanent residents” according to MoJ status definitions excludes 1-3 year status.
    Perhaps the strangely limited phrase MEANT to include all status? Then just say Foreign-Residents.

    My next complaint about that article is that it provides no LINK to the MoJ figures it describes.

    And another problem is the article using a seemingly-big 2.23 million number, but no foreigner %.
    A good summary would tell more than a #. Tell the actual PERCENTAGE of foreign residents in Japan.

    “The NUMBER of ‘long-term and PR’ foreigners this year, compared to that NUMBER in previous years”
    is not sufficient, since that limited calculation ignores the change in ALL total Japan residents.

    “PERCENTAGE of foreign residents this year vs. PERCENTAGE of foreign residents in previous years”
    is needed to properly judge how much the percentage of foreign residents is increasing/decreasing.

    That is the real chart I’d like to see, showing the annual (or even monthly) total percent change.
    The main point of this “2.23 million” number is to make readers think “so many foreign residents!”
    A real chart would show the total percent of foreign residents… remaining in the single digits.

    As always, if any of my statements are incorrect, I welcome corrections to prevent any misinfo. 🙂

  • “All one needs to know about the article is written in this sentence…hahaha..fantasy land.
    Surge..hmmm… in real figures +0.1% of the population wow, what a ‘surge’…an economic recovery….oh gesss..where to start on that one!”

    ==> Yeah, I laughed too. As a comparison, Japan’s most immediate neighbour, South Korea, not exactly well known for their open door immigration has 2.2 million foreigners if you count 250K+ illegals as well. Japan is almost 4 times more the geographic area, 2.5 times population size, and over 3 times the total economic gross national output. Yet still, Japan’s foreign population numbers are comparable to South Korea’s.

  • Loverilakkuma says:

    >”here were 2.23 million long-term and permanent foreign residents in Japan as of the end of last year.”

    >The ministry reported that there were 62,818 foreign nationals overstaying their visas as of Jan. 1.”

    So, once again, we will be receiving a false alarm of crisis based on a slight increase of stats that represent only 2.8% of NJ in Japan?

    Seriously!? This is even lower than the ratio of teachers evaluated as ineffective based on VAM in NY last year.

    I just wonder if the article author has any clue from the stats he provides.

  • Andrew in Saitama says:

    Notice how we also get actual numbers for the number of NJ when it looks good for Japan Inc. (everyone is flocking here for the omotenashi and four seasons and all), but when it comes to NJ crime the NPA gives us only percentages.

  • IIRC comparing equal (no overstaying) crimes: % Legal-Foreigners Convicted < % J-Citizens Convicted. Which if true is amazing, considering: % Legal-Foreigners SS-Questioned > % J-Citizens SS-Questioned.
    Since the private & public J-citizen workers practice Embedded Racism daily: %LFC < %JCC is amazing. I hope some readers here better at written Japanese than me can post official links of %LFC vs %JCC. I think it would especially helpful if a native speaker of Japanese were to help find the source links. Let's make a simple POWERFUL graph citing MoJ proving: % Legal-Foreigners Convicted < % J-Citizens Convicted. 🙂

  • @ Anonymous #9

    A helpful person already prepared that data for us. The figures are presented in an image, so I can’t copy and paste here, but the author sums up the numbers quite well:


    (my own translation)

    “What we can say from the numbers presented up until now is that foreign crime is not as numerous as has been said, and there is no large difference in percentages when comparing Japanese and foreign crime.”

  • Anonymous says:

    @HJ #10. Thanks. That author’s bottom summary is CLOSE, but STILL not comparing equal crimes, IMO.

    As Debito pointed out to the The National Archive of Criminal Justice Data on January 5, 2004…
    (not 2003, that’s a typo on that page you might need to correct: 2003 would require time-travel)
    (and yes it is ironic for me to point out a typo since I’m the worst serial-typo committer ever.)

    “We prefer to leave out visa violations because
    Japanese by definition cannot commit these crimes,
    and we want comparable numbers for comparable crimes.”

    Meaning, in the 2003 Jan-June National Police Agency foreign crime stats which Debito analyzed,
    33% of those “foreign crimes” needed to be subtracted out, to actually be comparing equal crimes.

    See, the “% vs %” summary at the bottom of your link obtained its “4,996” number from a MoJ link.
    So my question is, does the MoJ’s 2014 “一般刑法 Crime by Foreigners” link SUBTRACT status crimes?

    HJ, can you confirm: that 2014 MoJ source link makes NO mention of SUBTRACTING out status crimes?

    If so, WE need to subtract out the “foreigner crimes” which were status crimes: perhaps around 33%.

    In which case “0.245123172% Foreign RESIDENTS Convicted vs. 0.219890121% Japanese-Citizens Convicted”
    would become “0.16423252524% LEGAL Foreigners Convicted vs. 0.219890121% Japanese-Citizens Convicted”

    If so, that link’s “% Foreign Residents Convicted ALMOST AS LOW as % Japanese-Citizens Convicted”
    becomes “% Legal (valid-status) Foreigners Convicted 33% LESS THAN % Japanese-Citizens Convicted” (!) 🙂

  • Long term resident says:

    Dear Anonymous

    Thank for the link above.

    The data in the link you provided shows that the crime rate (犯罪率) within the long term foreign resident population is more or less the same as the crime rate of the Japanese (native) population (0.24% vs 0.22%).

    Below is the summary of the data shown in your link, where crime rate is defined as the ratio of arrest (検挙) versus the total population:

    Data for 2014 検挙人員       人口     犯罪率 
    Number of arrests   Population  Crime rate

    その他外国人 4,996 2,038,159 0.24% (0.245123172)
    (Other Foreigners
    defined as long term resident
    of 5 years or more)  

    日本人 276,967 125,957,000 0.22% (0.219890121)
    (Japanese citizen)

    If true, I would like to show that data to the young Omawari-san who keep asking to check gaijin cards of the foreign looking faces in the neighborhood, in my case almost every year since the six years he has been assigned to my local koban…

  • Jim di Griz says:

    I know, I know, I’m a real ‘glass half empty’ kind of guy, but seriously, whilst we share an academic interest in the comparative crime rates of NJ and Japanese, it really is totally academic in that it only confirms an anti-NJ institutional racism in Japan.

    But we knew that already.

    Japan’s a country where the police can kill you by ‘restraining’ you during arrest for ‘looking suspicious’ (ie, ‘not looking Japanese’) and there is no blow-back on the officers involved, the legal system, or the state at all.

    Speaking just for myself, being able to scream ‘told you so!’ with my dying breath isn’t going to be much of a compensation, is it?

    So, the real question is how to affect change. I don’t have a clue where to start.

  • Anonymous says:

    @#12 – That link summary was posted by HJ#10, not me. Please take note of that.

    And please note: my comment #11 shows the TRUTH. Read the final sentence of comment #11. 🙂

    That link summary wrongly implied a halfway-nice-sounding “let’s not talk SO badly about foreigners” message of, “Foreigners in Japan are ALMOST as law-abiding as Japanese Citizens” … so, what’s the average reader going to takeaway from that, “so… police in Japan should ALMOST stop racially profiling folks who appear foreign? ALMOST. Since that summary claims that ‘Foreigners have, relatively, on average, per capita, a 3% HIGHER chance of being a crime committer…” then this helps rationalize people approving of police illegally stopping a 3% HIGHER amount of people who appear to foreigners, due to 3% higher crime chance?”

    That link summary is wrong, legal residents in Japan are so scared about visa status renewal that they are 33% MORE law-abiding than Japanese Citizens. You just have to remember to subtract out the “status crimes” from the “Foreigners Convicted” total.

    Here’s proof that that summary link posted in comment #10 didn’t do the calculation correctly.

    Things start fairly well, by the denominator attempting to limit the “Resident Foreigners” to legal status-holding Foreigners, by using this sentence: “Medium (3 year) and Long (5 year and up) and Permanent Residents” (which, by the way, let’s remember, is DEFINITELY excluding Short status holders (less than 3 years) and POSSIBLY [JUST POSSIBLY] excluding [accidentally or purposefully] Special Permanent Resident status holders, since Special Permanent Residents were not specifically mentioned in that group definition. So that’s the denominator. The problem then really begins in the numerator.

    In the numerator, the author of that summary link naively uses the MoJ’s “Foreigners Convicted” total, which maliciously gives the wrong impression by including a special crime: status crimes, crimes which Japanese citizens don’t get the innocent chance to commit, by, for example, simply forgetting to fill out on time the annual or semi-annual paperwork as short-medium-long term status holders are required to.

    So, as Comment #11 already explained: Debito already explained long ago in his CrimeStats link that the MoJ’s “Foreigners Convicted” figure always needs a reduction (first half of 2003 needed a 33% reduction) so that we can obtain “2014 Foreigner Convictions MINUS the 2014 Foreigner Convictions which were status crimes” which thus produces what we really need in the numerator: “2014 Legal (valid-status) Foreigners Convicted of the exact same crimes which Japanese Citizens can be convicted of” for a fair crime-to-crime comparison.

    So that summary in #10 was a nice start, “close but no cigar”, but now someone needs to produce an actually correct chart which properly subtracts out the “status crimes” so we can show Japan the apples-to-apples percentage comparison.

    “Percentage of Legal (valid-status) Foreigners Convicted 33% LESS THAN the Percentage of Japanese-Citizens Convicted” (!) 🙂

  • @ Anonymous #14 I appreciate your efforts to point out the bias of visa-related infractions, but that completely aside, any reasonable person can clearly recognize a difference of less than 0.1% is completely statistically insignificant.

    Additionally, it may have been a poor translation on my part, but the author’s summary reads like a flat rejection of the notion that foreigners are somehow more criminally inclined. (To me, at least.) Especially if you read some of his others comments in the source blog post.

  • Anonymous says:

    @ HJ #15 – Your contribution was fine friend, we are grateful to have a seemingly good-hearted bilingual person like yourself helping us find Japanese info. Kansha shimasu. Please help us again in the future.

    And your translation of that author’s summary’s main point was fine, and that author’s original Japanese sentences were also fine. Yes, the intent of “rejection of the notion that foreigners are significantly MORE criminally inclined” opinion is clear.

    Now, in response to your suggestion that we should “leave completely aside the bias of visa-related infractions”, I reply:

    “No, au contraire mon frère, let’s leave completely aside all assumptions about intentions and opinion implications, and focus on the actual MoJ CRIME-TO-CRIME statistics.”

    If you re-read comment #9 carefully, you should notice that the specific data set which was originally requested (which you THOUGHT you had successfully shared) was the actual MoJ crime-to-crime statistics.

    So, while we are grateful indeed for your having shared that “ALMOST as law-abiding” calculation, the MoJ actual crime-to-crime statistics do NOT merely show:

    “Percentage of Foreigners Convicted ALMOST as low as the Percentage of Japanese-Citizens Convicted”

    The MoJ actual crime-to-crime statistics (which we will produce, with MoJ source links, WITH the vital “status crimes” subtraction, from say 1994 to 2015) show a MUCH MORE IMPRESSIVE fact:

    “Percentage of Legal (valid-status) Foreigners Convicted 33% LESS THAN the Percentage of Japanese-Citizens Convicted” (!) 🙂

    Meaning, “On average, Legal valid-status Foreigners are 33% MORE LAW-ABIDING than Japanese Citizens” (!) 🙂

    If one is going to announce this wonderful “33% MORE LAW-ABIDING than Japanese Citizens” fact,
    (for example, announcing using an expensive full-page ad in the most highly-read Japanese newspaper)
    (or using an expensive 30 second commercial in the most highly-seen Japanese TV commercial time slot)
    (or using a free effective Youtube Video which hopefully goes viral enough to be seen by millions of people)
    (or by using press releases which focus on this beautiful new MOJ-source-linked “33% MORE LAW-ABIDING” chart)
    (or by simply publishing this beautiful new chart here at Debito’s site soon and hoping this fact gets noticed by humanity)

    … the Bottom-Line fact is:

    First, one MUST diligently do the vital “status crimes” subtraction, to show the actual MoJ CRIME-TO-CRIME statistics (as explained in comment #9, #11, #14, and by Debito in 2004 )

  • Interesting discussion on the crime rates. I’m curious to know what people think about an advantage that foreigners have vis-a-vis conviction rates in that they can simply be deported prior to conviction. This is often the preferred outcome for many non-citizens that are arrested for crimes such as drug possession, and it’s an option that citizens do not have.

    — What you’re referring to generally only happens to American military on bases when they are quickly spirited out of the country before arrest. Once arrested, or in NPA detention, deportation before conviction is something I’ve never heard of happening.

  • Debito,

    Interesting. I’ve been tangentially involved (visiting the accused in temporary detainment on behalf of coworkers/family, for example) on three separate occasions in Tokyo and the path strongly advocated and pursued by the lawyers in each case was deportation. In each case they were successful. My evidence is only anectodotal, obviously, but in talking with the lawyers involved, this seemed to be their standard approach, though they were not always successful. Interested to hear your experiences.

    — Thank you. Actually, I’m more interested in hearing yours. If I have never heard of a case, that might be due to my lack of experience, of course. I would appreciate corrections. That said, I have doubts that the numbers are high enough to significantly influence overall comparative crime rates.

  • Anonymous says:

    @Dosanko – What makes you assume it is not conviction PLUS deportation?

    The deals which the lawyers are pushing for are probably “Deportaion… immediately after the conviction… thus immediately escaping from the prison term which the conviction decided.”

    I’m quite sure the options for foreigners are:

    Conviction, then prison term, then deportation
    Conviction, then deportation to avoid prison.

    If folks were merely deported without a court conviction, they could come back easily.

    And why would folks agree to being deported if they never were convicted of anything?

    Please bring us some citation proving the bold claim that “Japan deports non-convicted individuals.”

    How about at least having some of those lawyers post here on this thread, backing-up your “deportation without conviction” assumption/claim?

    Since your claim attempts to NEGATE the logical discovery that “Legal (valid-status) Foreigners are 33% more law-abiding than Japanese-Citizens (proven by the MoJ statistics with status crimes properly subtracted)”, you’re going to need to post some citations or at least some 1st-hand testimony please.

  • Hi Debito,

    I can tell you that all three individuals were well-funded and had very good legal support, which may have played into the outcomes. (I have no illusions that these were typical offenders.) Unfortunately, I’m with you in not knowing how prevalent this is, which was the point of my original post, but will try to track down one of the lawyers who was involved to see if he can provide us with some sense of this. Thanks.

  • Hi Debito,

    Sorry for the delay in getting back to you, but I finally got a hold of one of the attorneys involved in the cases I mentioned. He said that in the case of a foreign defendant, it is typical for the lawyer to argue in favor of deportation, especially in the case of so-called victimless crimes, such as drug possession, where this line of argument is most likely to be successful. The prosecutors often agree to this because it allows them to extract their pound of flesh while decreasing their case load (typical bureaucratic mindset). The key is that the deportation occur before indictment. Deportation after indictment to avoid conviction is nearly impossible (maybe this is what you were thinking of?). As for how it effects the numbers, he said he didn’t know, but it may effect mostly lesser crimes, particularly drug related offenses, where he sees it most often.

    Btw, congrats on your twenty years. I’ve been following you for 16 of them.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>