Ethnic groups of Japan

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Japan is among the most homogeneous societies in the world, with it estimated that Japanese peoples make up approximately 98.5% of the population, though actual numbers are hard to obtain as the government does not release any data to the public as to the actual sizes of different ethnic groups present in the country.[1][2]


Citizenship of foreigners in Japan in 2000
Source: Japan Statistics Bureau[3]

About 1.6% of Japan's total legal resident population are foreign citizens. Of these, according to 2012 data from the Japanese government, the principal groups are as follows.[4][5]

Nationality Number Percentage Of Population
 China 675,783 34.1% 0.52%
South KoreaNorth Korea Korea (South Korea/Chōsen) 530,421 26.0% 0.42%
 Philippines 203,027 10.0% 0.16%
 Brazil 193,571 9.5% 0.15%
 Vietnam 52,385 2.6% 0.04%
 Peru 49,483 2.4% 0.04%
 United States 48,371 2.4% 0.04%
 Thailand 40,146 2.0% 0.03%
Others 195,356 9.6% 0.15%
Total (as of 2012) 2,038,159 100% 1.6%

The above statistics do not include the approximately 30,000 U.S. military stationed in Japan, nor do they account for illegal immigrants. The statistics also do not take into account minority groups who are Japanese citizens such as the Ainu (an aboriginal people primarily living in Hokkaido), the Ryukyuans (from the Ryukyu Islands south of mainland Japan), naturalized citizens from backgrounds including but not limited to Korean and Chinese, and citizen descendants of immigrants. The total legal resident population of 2012 is estimated at 127.6 million.

Native Japanese people[edit]


Ainu (also Aynu) - The Ainu are an indigenous people, native to Hokkaido and northeastern Honshu. They are also found in Russia, in Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands, both formerly part of the Japanese Empire, and the Kamchatka Peninsula. They possess an alphabet and language distinct from modern Japanese, as they do not use kanji but the katakana alphabet. They traditionally practiced tattooing and followed religious beliefs that are considered animism.[6]

Bonin Islanders[edit]

Bonin Islanders - The Bonin Islanders are ethnic group native to the Bonin Islands, also called the Ogasawara Islands, part of Tokyo Prefecture. They are descendants of Europeans, Polynesians, and Kanaks who settled Hahajima and Chichijima in the 18th century. They speak a dialect of English, called Bonin English, and have traditionally practiced Christianity. Legal status of Bonin Islanders passed back and forth between the United States and Japan over the years and, during and after World War II, many Bonin Islanders were forced to leave their homes. Some immigrated to the United States, finding it easier to assimilate into an English-speaking Western culture than a Japanese-speaking Asian one. Today, roughly 200 Bonin Islanders remain in Japan, some still bearing the surnames of the original 18th-century settlers.


Yamato - The Yamato people are the dominant native ethnic group of Japan and because of their numbers, the term Yamato is often used interchangeably with the term Japanese. However, other ethnic groups native to Japan, who are genetically distinct from the Yamato, do exist.


Filipinos in Japan formed a population of 202,592 individuals at year-end 2007, making them Japan's third-largest foreign community along with Brazilians, according to the statistics of the Ministry of Justice. In 2006, Japanese/Filipino marriages were the most frequent of all international marriages in Japan.[7] As of March 12, 2011, the Filipino population of Japan was 305,972.[8]


Koreans in Japan are the fifth largest ethnic minorities in the country. Most of them arrived in the early 20th century.

As of 2012, there are 530,421 Koreans in Japan who are not Japanese citizens.[9]


Ryukyuans (also Lewchewan) - The Ryukyuans are an indigenous people, native to the Ryukyu Islands.



A small number of Nivkh people resettled in Hokkaido when Japan evacuated southern Sakhalin at the end of World War II.


Chinese people in Japan are the one of the largest ethnic minorities in Japan. They comprise 0.52% of Japan's population. Chinese people are mostly concentrated in the Osaka, Tokyo and Yokohama areas.


There is a significant community of Brazilians in Japan, which is home to the second largest Brazilian community outside of Brazil. They also constitute the largest number of Portuguese speakers in Asia, even greater than those of formerly Portuguese East Timor, Macao and Goa combined. Likewise, Brazil maintains its status as home to the largest Japanese community outside of Japan.













More than 300,000 Vietnamese people are living in Japan by October 2018.









  1. ^ Arudou, Debito (5 October 2010). "Census blind to Japan's true diversity". The Japan Times. Retrieved 17 April 2016.
  2. ^ "East & Southeast Asia :: JAPAN". CIA The World Factbook.
  3. ^ Japan Statistics Bureau Archived December 25, 2007, at the Wayback Machine, accessed December 8, 2007
  4. ^ (in Japanese) [1] Archived 2013-10-14 at the Wayback Machine 平成24年末現在における外国人登録者統計について.
  5. ^ "Disturbing trend: Japanese protesters use Nazism to attack Chinese, Koreans". AJW by The Asahi Shimbun. Archived from the original on October 13, 2014. Retrieved October 13, 2014.
  6. ^ citation needed
  7. ^ "THIS FOREIGN LAND Inevitably, newcomers play growing role". Japan Times. Japan. January 2008.
  8. ^ "Embassy taps help of Pinoy groups in Japan". Japan: ABS-CBN News. March 12, 2011.
  9. ^ Statics at the Immigration Bureau of Japan (2012). Retrieved on 11 June 2012