No. of Foreign Students Recovers to 90% of Pre-Pandemic Level; Japanese Students Studying Abroad Also Increase Fivefold

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Foreign students attend a college entrance ceremony in Yamagata in May.

The number of foreign students in Japan in 2023 increased by 20% from the previous year to 279,274, recovering to about 90% of the level before the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a survey by the Japan Student Services Organization.

The organization conducts an annual survey of the number of foreign students as of May 1. The figure reached a record high of 312,214 in 2019, but then began to decline significantly due to the pandemic. After the government gradually relaxed border controls for foreign travelers in 2022, foreign students increased by 48,128 to 279,274 in 2023, the fourth-highest number on record.

By country and region, the largest group came from China with 115,493, followed by 37,878 from Nepal and 36,339 from Vietnam. Students from the United States had the highest growth rate reaching 2.46 times the level of the previous year with 4,076 students.

Meanwhile, the number of Japanese, mostly university students, who studied abroad in fiscal 2022 totaled 58,162, or 5.29 times from the previous year’s 10,999, according to the survey. The number reached a record high of 115,146 in fiscal 2018, but dropped sharply to 1,487 in fiscal 2020 amid the pandemic.