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Japanese community in the United Kingdom

Japanese community in the UK
Total population
Japanese-born residents
37,535 (2001 UK Census)
34,000 (2009 ONS estimate)
Japanese nationals
50,864 (2002 Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs estimate)
Regions with significant populations
Greater London and South East England
Japanese and British English
Mahayana Buddhism, Shintoism, Protestantism, Roman Catholicism

The Japanese community in the United Kingdom are British citizens and permanent residents of Japanese birth, ancestry or citizenship.


  • Background 1
    • History and settlement 1.1
    • Students 1.2
  • Demographics 2
  • Notable individuals 3
  • Education 4
    • Primary and secondary schools 4.1
    • Post-secondary education 4.2
    • Supplementary education 4.3
  • See also 5
  • Notes 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8


An advertisement for the 1910 Japan-British Exhibition which aimed to create greater awareness of the Japanese community in the UK as well as Japanese culture in general

History and settlement

Settlement first began in the late 19th century with the arrival of Japanese professionals, students and their servants. 264 citizens of Japan resided in Britain in 1884, the majority of whom identifying as officials and students.[1] Employment diversified in the early 1900s with the growth of the Japanese community, which exceeded five hundred people by the close of the first decade of the 20th century.[1]

As tensions escalated between Japan and the UK throughout the course of World War II, some Japanese left their home country to come to the United Kingdom. Another wave of immigration began in the 1960s, mainly for business and economic purposes. In recent decades this number has been growing; including immigrants, students, and businessmen. Parts of the United Kingdom, in particular London, have significant Japanese populations, such as Golders Green and East Finchley in North London. There are currently just over 100,000 British Japanese, mostly in London; but, unlike other Nikkei communities elsewhere in the world, these Britons do not conventionally parse their communities in generational terms as Issei, Nisei, or Sansei.[2]


The first Japanese students in the United Kingdom arrived in the nineteenth century, sent to study at University College London by the Chōshū and Satsuma domains, then the Bakufu (Shogunate). Later many studied at Cambridge University and a smaller number at Oxford University until the end of the Meiji era. The reason for sending them was to catch up with the West by modernizing Japan. Since the 1980s, Japanese students in the United Kingdom have become common thanks to cheaper air travel.


According to the 2001 UK Census, 37,535 Japanese born people were residing in the UK,[3] whilst the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs estimates that 50,864 Japanese nationals were calling the UK home in 2002.[4] The Office for National Statistics estimates that, in 2011, 38,000 people born in Japan were resident in the UK, the 43rd most popular segment of the foreign-born population, and 33,000 Japanese citizens were resident in the UK, the 39th most popular group of overseas nationals.[5] According to the 2011 Census, there are 35,043 people of solely or partially Japanese ethnicity living in England and Wales,[6] 1,245 in Scotland,[7] and 90 in Northern Ireland.[8]

Japanese is the primary language of Japan, and the 2011 Census found that 27,764 people in England and Wales spoke Japanese as their main language, 27,305 of them in England alone, and 17,050 in London alone.[9] The 2011 Census also found that 83 people in Northern Ireland spoke Japanese as their main language.[10]

Notable individuals

Below is a list of notable British people of Japanese origin. Temporary individuals and expatriates are not included and can be found at Category:Japanese expatriates in the United Kingdom.

United-Kingdom-born British citizens of Japanese ancestry

Japanese immigrants to the United Kingdom


Primary and secondary schools

Many state and independent schools in the United Kingdom serve Japanese children. As of 2013 about 10-20% of Japanese school-age residents in the United Kingdom attend full-time Japanese international schools. These schools include the Japanese School in London, the boarding school Rikkyo School in England and the boarding school Teikyo School United Kingdom.[12]

The Shi-Tennoji School (英国四天王寺学園 Eikoku Shitennōji Gakuen) in Suffolk was in operation from 1985 to its date of closing,[13] 17 July 2000.[14] The Gyosei International School UK in Milton Keynes closed in 2002, after 15 years of operation.[15]

Post-secondary education

The Teikyo school maintains the Lafcadio Hearn Cultural Centre at the University of Durham.[12]

A boarding college in Winchester, Hampshire, the Winchester Shoei College at the University of Winchester (formerly Shoei Centre at King Alfred's College), is an affiliate of the Shoei Gakuin. It opened in 1982.[16][17]

Gyosei International College in the U.K. opened in 1989 in Reading, Berkshire on land formerly controlled by the University of Reading and its name later changed to the Witan International College. In 2004 the University of Reading announced that it took control of the Witan college.[18]

Supplementary education

The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) has eight Saturday Japanese supplementary schools in operation. As of 2013, 2,392 Japanese children in Cardiff, Derby, Edinburgh (school is in Livingston), Leeds, London, Manchester (school is in Lymm), Sunderland, and Telford attend these schools.[12][19]

See also


  1. ^ a b Itoh (2001), p1
  2. ^ Itoh, p. 7.
  3. ^ "Country-of-birth database".  
  4. ^ "Japan-UK relations". Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. October 2008. Retrieved 2008-12-08. 
  5. ^ "Population (May 2011 ONS Estimate)". Office for National Statistics. May 2011. Retrieved 21 May 2014.
  6. ^ "2011 Census: Ethnic Group". Bristol City Council. Retrieved 21 May 2014.
  7. ^ "Scotland's Census 2011 - National Records of Scotland - Ethnic group (detailed)". Scottish Government. 2013. Retrieved 21 May 2014.
  8. ^ "Ethnic Group - Full Detail_QS201NI". Northern Ireland Neighbourhood Information Service. 2011. Retrieved 21 May 2014.
  9. ^ "2011 Census: Main language (detailed)". Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 21 May 2014.
  10. ^ "Main Language - Full Detail_QS210NI". Northern Ireland Neighbourhood Information Service. 2011. Retrieved 21 May 2014.
  11. ^ Tempest, Matthew. "Duncan Smith's secret samurai past," The Guardian (UK). 3 September 2001.
  12. ^ a b c Conte-Helm, p. 74.
  13. ^ McNeill, Phil. "Shrine of the times." (Archive) The Telegraph. 22 July 2007. Retrieved on 8 January 2014.
  14. ^ "Establishment: Shi-Tennoji School." (Archive) Department for Education. Retrieved on 8 January 2014. "Shi-Tennoji School Herringswell Bury St Edmund's Suffolk IP28 6SW"
  15. ^ "Sayonara!." (Archive) Milton Keynes Citizen. 17 January 2002. Retrieved on 8 January 2014.
  16. ^ Pearse, Bowen and Chris McCooey. Companion to Japanese Britain and Ireland. In Print (company), 1991. ISBN 187304710X, 9781873047101. "WINCHESTER (90) Shoei Centre (at King Alfred's College), Winchester, Hampshire In 1982, four years short of its centenary, Tokyo's Shoei Christian College for Girls opened a boarding college in Winchester. The new Japanese centre[...]"
  17. ^ Directory of Japanese-Affiliated Companies in the E. C., 1991-1992 (Google Books name: DIR JAPAN AFFIL COS EC 91-92). Taylor & Francis, 1 January 1992. p. 205. "Winchester Shoei College (Shoei Joshigakuin - Tokyo) 9, Chilbolton Court, Sarum Road, Winchester, Hants, S022 5HF"
  18. ^ "The University of Reading and Witan International College." (Archive) University of Reading. 6 August 2004. Retrieved on 9 January 2014.
  19. ^ "欧州の補習授業校一覧(平成25年4月15日現在)" (Archive). Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT). Retrieved on May 10, 2014.


  • Conte-Helm, Marie. The Japanese and Europe: Economic and Cultural Encounters (Bloomsbury Academic Collections). A&C Black, 17 December 2013. ISBN 1780939809, 9781780939803.
  • Itoh, Keiko (2001), The Japanese Community in Pre-War Britain, RoutledgeCurzon ISBN 0-7007-1487-1

External links

  • The Japan Foundation
  • UK Japanese forum
  • Reassessing what we collect website - Japanese London History of Japanese London with objects and images
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