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Visualizing Where Japanese People Live Overseas

We examine the Japanese citizen population in each country.

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4 min read

Where in the world do Japanese people live? The obvious answer is Japan. Besides Japan though, if we look at the Japanese diaspora, countries like Brazil and the United States have millions of descendants of emigrants from Japan.

Here, we will look at the number of Japanese citizens in each country1.

The following map shows the top 50 countries with the most Japanese citizens, where darker colors represent countries with more Japanese people:

Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs

There are Japanese citizens in different parts of the world, though there aren't as many in places such as Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia, and Eastern Europe.

While there is some growth in numerous countries, none of the top 20 places have had extreme growths in Japanese citizens during 2015-2019.

Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs

The following bar graph shows only the 2015 and 2019 values.

Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Some of these countries have tens of thousands of more Japanese citizens compared to 2015, but none of them have exponential growth.

By continent, we can see that there are Asian countries are the most common in the top 20:

Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Compared to the foreigner population in Japan (which is mostly Asian), there is a wider range of countries where Japanese citizens live.

31% of all Japanese people who live abroad live in the United States (440,000 people), and China is 8.3% at over 110,000 people.

If we look at the type of resident, we can see that there is a low percentage of permanent residents in Asia. It doesn't show up here, but there were 33 people in Antarctica in 2019.

Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Long-term residents(長期滞在者) are defined as Japanese citizens who have temporarily lived more than 3 months in a foreign country and plan to eventually return to Japan. They may have been sent by their company to work in a foreign country for a few years, or just studying abroad.

Permanent residents (永住者) are defined as Japanese citizens who have lived more than 3 months in a foreign country and have moved their principal place of residence to a foreign country. They may have been married to a foreigner, or moved to another country in hopes of a better life.

As of 2019, there were 1,410,356 registered Japanese people who live outside of Japan.

There were more male long-term residents, but more female permanent residents:

Among long-term residents, there were more men who worked at a company compared to women. On the other hand, there were more women who studied abroad, who is a researcher, or who is a teacher.


I mapped the cities that have the most Japanese citizens:

Cities with the Largest Japanese Population Outside of Japan
We map and graph the 50 cities with the most Japanese people across the world.

We looked at Japanese people abroad, but where are foreigners in Japan from? I visualized where international students in Japan are from:

Visualizing International Students in Japan
What are the most common countries of origin for those studying in Japan? How has the number of international students in Japan changed?

Software Used

R: ggplot2, plotly


1: The data used is from residence papers(在留届)which Japanese people who live abroad submit. This is official data provided by the Japanese government, but papers aren't always submitted or updated. It's probably still the best estimate of the number of Japanese citizens in each country, but these aren't the exact numbers that we would get if we checked every single person one by one.