The Daily Yomiuri reports that the number of foreign students staying in Japan to work after graduation has hit record levels.
An improving job market and growing demand for translators and interpreters has caused the number to surge to 8,272 -- up 40 percent from the previous year.
In 2006, applications to change status from "College Student" or "Pre-college Student" to "Specialist in Humanities/International Services" totalled 9,034, of which 8,272 were granted.
In 2005 the number of granted Specialist in Humanities/International Services visas totalled 5,878.
The visa is granted for those engaging in service "which requires knowledge pertinent to jurisprudence, economics, sociology or other human science fields or to engage in service which requires specific ways of thought or sensitivity based on the experience with foreign culture." The visa is based on a contract with a public or private organization in Japan.
Asian students comprised the majority of those who found jobs after graduation, totalling 90 percent, according to Japan's immigration bureau statistics.
Chinese students were at the top of the list with 6,000 (up 43.3 percent over 2005), followed by South Korea (944), Taiwan (200), Bangladesh (119), and Malaysia (118).
Approximately 70 percent of foreign students took up non-manufacturing related employment.
Of those, the commercial and trade sector saw 1,792 foreign students take up jobs, while 1,140 students entered the computer and information technology sector. 479 graduates received employment in education-related employment.
By job description, 2,711 foreign graduates -- over 30 percent of the total number -- were hired as translators or interpreters. 893 foreign graduates obtained information-processing jobs, 882 went for sales-related jobs and 732 entered overseas operations.
According to a Japanese ministry official, "Growing demand for translators and interpreters among domestic companies has perhaps helped boost the employment of foreign students."