Foreign employees in Japan up 15.5% to around 650,000 at end of Oct.

A total of 649,982 foreign workers were employed by 108,760 companies and other establishments in Japan as of the end of last October, up 15.5 percent and 14.1 percent, respectively, from a year earlier, the labor ministry said Monday.

The total included 259,362 workers in the manufacturing sector, up 15.6 percent from the year before, accounting for nearly 40 percent of the total, the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry said.

In explaining the rise, the ministry said that Chinese, Brazilian and other workers who were laid off amid the economic downturn are being called back for short-term jobs in the Chukyo area in central Japan, where a large number of manufacturers operate.

By nationality, Chinese workers accounted for 287,105 of the total, followed by 116,363 Brazilians and 61,710 Filipinos.

Tokyo, Aichi and Shizuoka prefectures had the three largest populations of foreign workers at 154,610, 78,723 and 38,802, respectively.