In Focus: Japanese Immigration to Australia
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In Focus: Japanese Immigration to Australia

In Focus: Japanese Immigration to Australia

Compared with other countries, the number of Japanese migrating overseas permanently is low. This number, however, hit an all-time high of 1.3 million in 2017, according to Japan’s Minister of Foreign Affairs (MOFA). Where are they heading? 

Focusing on the number of Japanese permanent residents living overseas (485,000 compared with 870,000 living abroad for three months or more), Australia ranked the second most popular destination after the US, with 56,000 migrants. Though survey data is limited, Japanese list ‘an English speaking environment’ as a key factor in selecting an immigration destination; we also know that climate and safety are important.

But how does Australia rate when it comes to these three factors – and the Japanese experience?

How does Australia rate?

Clearly Australia ticks the first two boxes. As for safety, the Japanese MOFA collects data on Japanese nationals living or travelling abroad who are involved in incidents regarding safety. It is significant that no Australian city featured in this list.

Apart from Japanese permanent residents, there are 41,000 Japanese living in Australia on a long-term basis (defined as staying for more than three months). This number includes expatriate Japanese who are working in Japanese companies usually for a three to five-year term, working holiday-makers, and university and school students.

While other English speaking countries attract Japanese migration mainly for business purposes, Australia is quite different – with three quarters of Japanese coming here to study English or for young people, undertaking a ‘working holiday.’ According to MOFA, the main reason for long-term migration to the Oceanic region (the majority of which is, of course, Australia) is for study and research purposes. However, working holiday-makers represent the second largest group. In the year ended March 2018, over 8,000 working holiday visas were granted to Japanese nationals, the Australian Government reported.

Typically, migrants are the business lubricant between the mother country and the host country. In the absence of any detailed research, to what extent migrants from Japan have fulfilled this role is currently unknown – but it certainly would be interesting to learn more about this.

As the numbers have identified, education is an important aspect for Japanese who come to Australia for longer periods. Part two of this article will look specifically at the trends of Japanese students studying abroad.