Vietnamese Workers Hold the Largest Presence in Japan’s Foreign Workforce

By 2023, Vietnamese laborers have surpassed Chinese workers to become the largest foreign workforce in Japan. Additionally, Indonesian workers have tripled since 2018.

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According to data from the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, the total number of foreign workers in the country in the past 5 years has increased by 40.3%, reaching 2.05 million people as of October 2023. Among them, Vietnamese workers account for the largest proportion, with 518,364 people.

Meanwhile, the number of Chinese workers increased only 2.3% as domestic wages increased and the weak Yen reduced the attractiveness of jobs in Japan.

A Vietnamese worker in Japan.

Indonesian labor increased by 192.2% within 5 years to 121,507 people and increased by 56% between 2022 and 2023. Low wages in Indonesia make many workers in this country still consider Japan as an attractive destination. Indonesian citizens make up 56% of Japan’s specified skills workforce – the program started in 2019 to alleviate labor shortages in some industries.

Currently, Japanese employers are offering higher salaries to continue to attract workers. Accordingly, the monthly basic salary for foreign technical interns will increase by 8% in 2022, reaching 177,800 Yen (or 1,200 USD, nearly 30 million VND).

Many of these Vietnamese workers participate in the technical intern training program. The program is designed to help transfer technical work skills to developing countries.

According to the Japan International Cooperation Organization (JICA), the country is thirsty for foreign workers as the aging population and fertility decline cannot be improved. To achieve economic growth goals by 2040, the country will need 6.74 million immigrant workers.

In early March, the Japanese government approved a plan to create a new system designed to train unskilled foreign workers and facilitate them with medium- and long-term employment opportunities. Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida expressed his commitment to promoting related system reforms “from the perspective of positioning Japan as an attractive destination for foreign human resources.”

Japan has a high demand for foreign labor recruitment.

The Japanese government intends to more than double the limit for accepting high-skilled workers over the next five years, from 2024. The number of skilled foreign workers can increase from 345,000 to 800,000 to ease the pressure of domestic labor shortage.

Skilled workers will be recruited in 16 sectors, including four newly added sectors: road, railway, forestry, and wood processing.

Initially, skilled workers will be granted a No. 1 specified skills visa, and allowed to work in Japan for a maximum of 5 years. Under the new policy, workers can also change jobs within the same industry as long as they meet certain criteria, including more than 1 year of continuous work at the same workplace and passing skill tests.

Charlotte Pho