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1.36 million Japanese living overseas, first drop since 1989

This file photo shows the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. (Mainichi/Kenji Yoneda)

TOKYO -- The number of Japanese nationals living abroad as of the first day of October 2020 stood at around 1.36 million, marking the first time since 1989 that the figure had fallen from the previous year, according to statistics by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

    It appears that there were many people who had no choice but to return to Japan or give up going overseas due to the global spread of the coronavirus.

    As of Oct. 1, 2020, 1,357,724 Japanese nationals resided overseas -- a 3.73% decrease from the same day of the year before. The figure marked the first decline from the previous year since 1989, the earliest year for which records remain. The number of people who had stayed abroad for a long-term period of over 3 months was 827,916, a 7.13% drop from a year earlier. There were apparently many expatriate workers and their families who returned home due to safety reasons, as well as students who called off studying abroad.

    Meanwhile, Japanese nationals who were permanent residents overseas stood at 529,808 and increased by 2.11% at a greater rate than the previous year. It is believed that a large number of people made the decision to become permanent residents on the grounds of marriage as well as family and life-related reasons, and that the coronavirus had a limited impact on these matters.

    When viewed by country, the greatest number of Japanese nationals -- 426,354 people -- lived in the United States. The country with the second most residents from Japan was China, with 111,769 individuals, followed by Australia (97,532), Thailand (81,187) and Canada (70,937).

    Furthermore, the city with the largest Japanese population was the Los Angeles area, home to 67,501 nationals, followed by Bangkok with 58,783 people, the New York area with 39,850 and Shanghai with 39,801.

    The data was aggregated based on residential registration reports which Japanese nationals are required to submit to embassies, consulates or other establishments under the Passport Act. Those living in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria were not included in the statistics in order to ensure the safety of the Japanese nationals living there.

    (Japanese original by Hiroshi Miyajima, Political News Department)

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