The number of Japanese nationals resident in the UK fell by 4.5% in 2016, from 67,997 in 2015 to 64,968 – the first time since 2008-9, when the Lehman Shock hit and numbers dropped from 63,526 to 59,431.
It’s difficult to avoid concluding that the Brexit referendum vote had an immediate psychological impact along with the beginning of a renewed crackdown on non-EU migration. I expect the downward trend to be intensified in 2017-8 as it has become much more expensive and difficult to bring in Japanese expatriate staff from 2017. The non-EU immigration cap has been hit for the third month running in February 2018. It is estimated that the cost of bringing in a Japanese expat has increased from £2151 to £7174 in 2017 (and might double again in later years) after the introduction of the immigrant skills charge of £1000 per year in April 2017. The charge to use the NHS is proposed to rise from £200 to £600 over the next couple of years.
Given that some Japanese companies have hundreds of Japanese expatriates in the UK, this is a significant cost, even though it does not seem to have deterred more non-EU migrants from coming to the UK in 2018 compared to 2017.
Delving further into the Japan’s Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communication’s Statistics Bureau’s statistics, it is clear that other European countries are still seeing significant rises in Japanese nationals as residents – Sweden has seen an increase of 8% from 2015 to 2016, the Netherlands a 7% rise and the two largest Japanese populations after the UK, Germany and France have also seen 3-4% rises, to 44,027 and 41,641 respectively. Belgium and Russia are the only two other countries to record a decrease in Japanese nationals, of 9% to 5,707 and 4% to 2,650 respectively.
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