TOKYO (Kyodo) -- A record 2,731,093 foreigners were registered living in Japan at the end of 2018, up 6.6 percent from a year earlier, bolstered by a rising number of students and technical trainees, the Justice Ministry said Friday.
The government is expecting a further rise in foreign residents under a new visa system to be implemented next month with the aim of attracting more foreign workers amid a severe shortage of labor in the country.
Among registered residents, technical trainees numbered 328,360 or a jump by 19.7 percent from a year before, and foreign students stood at 337,000, up by 8.2 percent.
Based on nationality, Chinese made up the largest group with 764,720, followed by South Koreans at 449,634. Vietnam, which sends the most technical trainees to Japan, ranked third with 330,835 residents, up 26.1 percent.
The number of foreigners illegally staying in the country rose by 11.5 percent to 74,167 as of Jan. 1, the ministry said.
Of those, the largest group was South Koreans with 12,766, down 0.9 percent from a year earlier.
Vietnamese came second at 11,131, a 64.7 percent jump, followed by Chinese at 10,119.
Those with permanent residency constituted the largest group among registered residents at 771,568, up by 3 percent, although the number of registered Koreans with special permanent status decreased by 2.5 percent to 321,416.