Japanese People

The Japanese people are a cohesive ethnic group originating from the Japanese chain of islands. There are roughly 130 million people of Japanese descent. Of those 130 million, about 127 million are residents of Japan. Japan is one of the most homogeneous countries in the world in terms of ethnic or national composition.

Who Comprises Japan

The majority of Japan is made up of Japanese people who solely speak Japanese.  In 1999, 99.4% of the population was Japanese. This means that only 0.6% belonged to other ethnic groups. The largest ethnic minority in Japan is a group of around 700,000 Koreans. Large communities of Brazilians, Filipinos, and Americans also live in Japan. Other significant ethnic minorities are the Chinese and a tiny group of aborigines called the Ainu.

The Ainu are the one remaining distinct ethnic group in Japan. They are physically distinct from the contemporary Japanese in that they have Nordic-like features. One of these features is that they have more extensive facial and body hair. The group currently lives on the northern island of Hokkaido. They are now close to becoming obsolete (with a population of less than 20,000 people) due to intermarriage with the Japanese over the centuries.

Language Challenge

As the majority of Japanese do not speak English fluently, it is key that companies entering the Japanese markets get their products, services and documents translated into Japanese.

Japanese Outside of Japan

The number of Japanese living in Western countries is very high compared to the number of Westerners living in Japan. Those with Japanese heritage who live in other countries are called “nikkeijin”. Out of 181,000 Japanese living on a permanent basis in Western countries, 158,000 (87% of them) have chosen English-speaking countries. From these statistics, we can hold that Japanese emigrants are primarily attracted to English-speaking countries in the Western world. This may be because, for most of them, English is the only foreign language they have been given the chance to study in school. Wherever they reside, the Japanese people are known for maintaining Japanese schools and celebrating their culture and heritage.

American ethnic groups in Japan

The Americans have existed in Japan since the 2nd half of the 19th century. Today, there is about 200,000 Americans in Japan. It ranks 5th in the minority ethnic groups classification on the basis of the size of the population.

Koreans in Japan

The Koreans have settled in Japan from the early years of the 20th century. However, they were granted citizenship after the end of the 1st decade of the century. The immigration of Koreans to Japan was mainly to escape the tremendous pressures, due to race discrimination, which was making life difficult for some particular race in Korea. The 2nd wave of immigration was during the World War II. The total number of Koreans in Japan had surpassed 3 million in these times.

Chinese in Japan

Chinese ethnic groups are said to have existed in Japan since the 3rd century. There were continuous immigration of the Chinese to Japan in the following centuries. In the later years of the 20th century, the Chinese visited and settled in Japan for taking higher education.

Today, there are more than half a million people with Chinese ethnicity staying in Japan. Some of the areas where the Chinese population is settled, in Japan include: Tokyo, Osaka, Kobe, Nagasaki and Yokohama.

Filipinos in Japan

It is observed that the Filipino immigration was prominent in the last three decades. These were mainly in the form of workers for the huge manufacturing corporations based in Japan, as there were several opportunities in Japan than the Philippines. This practice has been consistent over the recent years, which has resulted into over 500,000 Filipinos in Japan during the latest years.

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