A record number of foreign students took jobs in Japan immediately after graduating from universities and vocational schools last year, according to recently released Justice Ministry data.
The number of students, at 15,657, was more than double the 5,878 seen in 2005 and is the result of a government effort to lure skilled professionals, especially in the information technology sector, to boost the global competitiveness of Japanese firms.
Under a plan adopted by the Cabinet in June, the government set the target of raising the employment rate of foreign students in Japan from the current 30 percent to 50 percent.
To make it easier for foreign students to land jobs, the government has acted as a bridge between the students and potential employers by organizing recruitment seminars.
As of the end of 2015, the number of foreign students was estimated at 246,000, rising for the third consecutive year. The government aims to boost that number to 300,000 by 2020, when Tokyo hosts the Olympic and Paralympic games. In Japan, where the population is rapidly graying, a growing number of companies are keen to hire more foreign workers.
The number of foreign students who requested and were granted a change in their visa status has generally increased in the past 10 years, except in 2009 and 2010, when the number declined in the aftermath of the global financial crisis.
Of the work visas issued to the 15,657 students, about 90 percent went to engineers and specialists in humanities or international services. Other job titles included professors and researchers.
Nearly 50 percent of the students were engaged in sales and marketing, translation or interpretation services.
Tokyo topped the list of places where most foreign students were hired, accounting for around 50 percent, followed by Osaka, Kanagawa and Aichi prefectures.
By country and region, students from China made up the largest group with 9,847, followed by 1,288 from South Korea, 1,153 from Vietnam and 649 from Taiwan.