The number of foreign workers in the country as of Oct. 31 was down 0.6 percent from a year earlier as the automobile and other manufacturing sectors scaled back amid the global economic slowdown, government data showed Tuesday.
The foreign workforce fell to 682,450 in the first yearly decline since 2008, when officials began compiling such data.
Chinese made up the largest number at 296,388, accounting for 43.4 percent of the total, followed by Brazilians at 101,891, or 14.9 percent, the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry said. The third-largest group was Filipinos with 72,867.
By prefecture, 176,978 foreign workers were laboring in Tokyo, accounting for 25.9 percent of the total, followed by Aichi Prefecture with 80,712 and Kanagawa Prefecture with 39,983.
Despite the overall decline in foreign workers, the number of those working as specialists in sectors such as medical care and finance rose 2.8 percent to 124,259.