There were 1.98 million foreign residents in Japan as of March 31, accounting for 1.54 percent of the population, with 84.28 percent of them between the ages of 15 and 64, according to the latest government figures.

The data were released for the first time in the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry's regular Vital Statistics report, issued Wednesday. The basic resident register — the source for the data — started including non-Japanese residents who stay in the country for three months or longer last year.

The foreign population of 1,980,200 consisted of 894,719 males, or 45.18 percent, and 1,085,481 females, or 54.82 percent.

By age bracket, elderly people, defined as those 65 or older, constituted 6.77 percent of the total, compared with 24.4 percent for Japanese.

Those between 15 and 64, who play an important role in the workforce, comprised 84.28 percent, significantly higher than the 62.47 percent for Japanese.

The child population, up to 14 years old, was 8.96 percent, lower than 13.13 percent among Japanese.

A whopping 70.55 percent live in the three biggest metropolitan areas.

The Tokyo area, which includes Saitama, Chiba and Kanagawa prefectures, was home to 38.63 percent of the total, followed by the Kansai region of Kyoto, Osaka, Hyogo and Nara prefectures with 18.02 percent and the Nagoya region of Gifu, Aichi and Mie prefectures with 13.89 percent.

Among cities, central Tokyo's 23 wards were home to 322,525 non-Japanese residents, followed by Osaka with 116,375. Yokohama ranked third with 74,713 and Nagoya was fourth with 63,892.

For towns and villages, Oizumi, Gunma Prefecture, had the largest presence, 5,913 people, who accounted for 14.53 percent of its overall population. The town is host to manufacturing plants that hire a large number of people with Japanese ancestry, chiefly from Brazil.

Children made up around 13 percent of the foreign populations of Gunma, Mie and Shizuoka prefectures. Many of them are believed to be offspring of foreign factory workers.