Permanent Residents of Japan

"General" and "Special" permanent residency

By William Wetherall

First posted 16 March 2006
Last updated 10 September 2012


Special Permanent Resident statistics

Municipal statistics which differentiate resident aliens by status of residence show nationality breakdowns by type of permanent residence status. Figures for 2004 show the following regional and nationality distributions for persons who have Special Permanent Residence.

Registered aliens as of 31 December 2004

Special Permanent Residents (SPRs)
Region of nationality

Region of            Number of nationalities
nationality   SPRs   among SPRs and in region

Asia       464,850   16 of 37 nationalities
Europe         115   16 of 49 nationalities
Africa          21    7 of 51 nationalities
North America  463    6 of 23 nationalities
South America   32    6 of 12 nationalities
Oceania         51    2 of 14 nationalities
Stateless       87    1 of 1 "nationality"

TOTAL      465,619   54 of 187 nationalities

Nationalities with more than 20 SPRs

Kankoku・Chosen [Korea]    461,460
Chugoku [China]              3,306
United States                  391
Stateless                       87
Canada                          60
United Kingdom                  40
Australia                       39
Philippines                     30
France                          26


[2005 edition]
[Statistics on registered foreigners]
Tokyo: Japan Immigration Association, 2005
Table 1: Status of residence by nationality
Pages 2-31

The population of SPR Koreans in Japan is rapidly shrinking because of death, naturalization, and nationality laws that treat dual-national children of Koreans and Japanese as Japanese when in Japan. This decline has sometimes been offset by an increase in the number of Koreans who are taking up residence in Japan as general aliens, which means that the total population of "Koreans in Japan" -- regardless of their legal status -- has remained about the same.

Until 1966, Japan was unable to formally differentiate between "Chosenese" as legacy or residual affilates of an entity that no longer existed, and "ROK nationals" as affiliates of an existing and recognized entity. Until then, the right of abode of such persons was not set by law.

For more about the changes statuses of various kinds of Koreans in Japan after 1945, see relevant articles under "Occupations and settlements" and "Legacy issues" in The Sovereign Empire feature of this website.