A record 911,062 Japanese were living overseas on a long-term basis as of Oct. 1, up 4.5 percent from the previous high posted a year earlier, a senior Foreign Ministry official said Monday.
While the United States still had the largest contingent, at 331,677, China overtook Brazil to claim second place with 77,184, the official said.
Brazil was in third place at 70,782.
The figure for China increased by slightly more than 20 percent from Oct. 1, 2002, with many new Japanese residents in Shanghai compared with other parts of the country.
The rise was attributed to greater Japanese involvement in business and trade with China, centering on Shanghai, which is undergoing rapid economic growth.
The city with the largest Japanese population was New York, with 62,279. It was followed by Los Angeles at 42,771, Hong Kong at 25,211 and Shanghai at 23,527.
The Asian region saw an annual increase of 9.9 percent, while the Central and Eastern European region saw an increase of 11.9 percent. The figures fell slightly in South America and Africa.
There were more Japanese women than men residing overseas for the fifth straight year, with the percentage standing at 51.3 percent, according to the official.
Long-term overseas residents are defined as those who have remained in a foreign country for three months or longer, as well as those living in a foreign country with permanent residency status.
Of the Japanese citizens living abroad, 291,793, or 32 percent, were permanent residents, while the remaining 619,269 were on long-term stays.