The population of foreign workers set a record of about 1.28 million in late October as rapidly graying Japan continued to rely on foreign trainees and students to make up for its labor shortage, the labor ministry said Friday.

The total of 1,278,670 is 18 percent higher than last year and the highest since comparable data became available in 2008, the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry said.

Chinese led the way with 372,263 workers, up 8 percent on year, followed by the Vietnamese, whose numbers soared 40 percent to 240,259, accounting for 35 percent of the increase.