A recent survey has shown Japanese people who reside outside the country's major cities do not regularly interact with the foreign nationals who live in their communities, underscoring the need for Japan to work harder on integrating society.

The online survey by a research institute at Taisho University was conducted from October to November on Japanese residents in 59 cities, towns and villages across the country where foreign nationals account for 5% or more of the population. It did not include the 23 wards in central Tokyo nor the country's 20 designated major cities.

Of the 1,194 who gave valid responses, 83.8% said they do not have regular exchanges with the foreign nationals who live alongside them.

Among the 16.2% who said they do, 39.7% said they are colleagues with non-Japanese people, followed by 32.5% who said they are neighbors with them, and 21.6% who said they have foreign friends.

Asked whether they want a higher percentage of foreign nationals in their community, 54.5% said they do not, with many citing concerns about increased friction or deterioration of the social order.

Japan has been opening up to more foreign workers to combat the slide in its working-age and overall population. As of the end of October, the number of foreign workers in Japan stood at a record high of 2.04 million, according to the labor ministry.

Professor Yuko Tsukasaki, who led the research, said that, because Japan will increasingly rely on foreign nationals for labor, it must make the country a place where they can live comfortably and build long careers.

"We must listen properly to foreign residents and make steady efforts to bring about a harmonious society," Tsukasaki said.