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Japanese community profile

Information about the Japanese community in Victoria including where they live and when they arrived, languages spoken, English language proficiency, religions and significant dates.

These profiles are of Victorian communities, using the best available data we have from the 2021 Australian Census.

The Census defines ancestry as the cultural or ethnic group you most identify with.

We acknowledge that the profiles are not definitive. There are limitations and challenges in assigning ancestry or ethnicity to a specific ‘community’, especially as defined by geographical borders.


The Japanese community in Australia was relatively small throughout the nineteenth century. During the 1880s–1890s, most of the Japanese population worked as pearlers in northern Australia or Queensland's sugar cane industry. There were very few Japanese who settled in Victoria during this period.

The White Australia Policy (The Immigration Restriction Act 1901) meant that the migration of Japanese people was restricted for much of the twentieth century. Although some Japanese were able to acquire temporary permits during this time. During World War II, Australia and its Allied forces were in conflict with Japan. As a result, the Japanese population in Australia were almost all interned, and most were deported at the end of the war.

The end of the White Australia policy in 1973 saw more Japanese business people, students and tourists arrive in Australia. In the 1980s, the rise of the Japanese economy and increased trade between Australia and Japan led to an increase in Japanese business people and students in Victoria. Many people came to study at university, teach in school and work in tourism. The 2021 Census data shows that the number of Japan–born people arriving in Victoria peaked from 2001–2010 and has remained steady.

Japanese community

The Japanese community in Victoria is one of the largest in Australia. There are 15,946 people in Victoria who have Japanese ancestry, of which 9,251 were born in Japan.

The gender breakdown for the Japanese community is:

  • male: 6,046 (37.9%)
  • female: 9,900 (62.1%)

Most of the Japanese community is young to middle–aged, with the largest cohorts are aged from 0–14 (27.3%) and 35–44 (19.3%). 

Insights for communication and engagement

The following are some key insights from the data when communicating and engaging with the Japanese community:

  • The Japanese community is a growing one, with many people arriving from 2001–2010 and 2016–2021.
  • The community has high levels of English language proficiency and may therefore understand information or resources in English. It is worth noting there are still many in the community who may require in–language information, resources or in-person support, particularly more recent arrivals and older people. 
  • Write in plain language. Use plain words, short sentences, headings, lists and other design elements to make information clear.
  • Social media and digital channels may help reach the many Japanese people who live in Victoria.
  • For place–based activities, most of the community lives in the central and south–eastern suburbs.

For more insights about communicating with multicultural audiences read the:

Better practice guide for multicultural communications
PDF 3.35 MB
(opens in a new window)
Better practice guide for multicultural communications - accessible version
Word 2.33 MB
(opens in a new window)


Many people in the Japanese community live in Melbourne’s central and south–eastern suburbs.

Melbourne City is home to one of the largest Japanese communities in Victoria with 1,079 people. The City of Glen Eira is next with 733 people.

The following 10 local government areas have the largest Japanese communities.

Local government areaPopulation
Glen Eira1157

Japan-born population 

The statistics below focus on people living in Victoria who were born in Japan. This will be referred to as the ‘Japan–born population’.


The top languages spoken by the Japan-born population in Victoria are:

  • Japanese (6,844)
  • English (1,894).

English language proficiency

The Japan–born population in Victoria has high levels of English language proficiency:

  • 69.2% of the population say they speak English ‘very well’ or ‘well’.
  • 9.9% of the population say they speak English ‘not well’ or ‘not at all’.
  • 20.5% of the population speak English only.


The Japan–born population identify with the following religions.

  • Buddhism (17.4%)
  • Catholicism (3.3%)
  • Japanese religions (including Shintō) (2.6%)
  • no religion (66.7%).

Years of arrival

There are two significant points of arrival for the Japan–born population: 2001–2010 and 2016–2021. The majority of the community arrived in Victoria between these two periods.

Year of arrivalNumber of arrivalsPercentage
1951 – 1960881.0
1961 – 1970931.0
1971 – 19802743.0
1981 – 19906607.1
1991 – 20001,49316.1
2001 – 20102,90131.4
2011 – 20151,40315.2
2016 – 20212,08622.5


In the Japanese culture, names traditionally follow this order: [Family Name] [Given name]. The family name always comes before the given name. It is also not common for Japanese to have middle names as they are not recognised.

When relating with individuals in the Japanese community, it is common to use titles to show respect and politeness. Titles are nearly always added as a suffix to either the given name or family name. The most common title is ‘–san’ (honourable) and is mainly used for men and women with their surname and given name. For example, someone named Riku Nakamura can be addressed as Riku Nakamura–san. Other titles include ‘sensei’ (teacher), ‘sama’ (highly revered) and ‘oisha–san’ (doctor).

Significant dates

The following are some key dates of significance for the Japanese community:

  • New Year’s Day (Shōgatsu) – 1 January
  • Coming of Age Day (Seijin no Hi) – 2nd Monday of January
  • Beginning of Spring (Setsubun) – 3 February
  • Foundation Day – February 11
  • The Emperor’s Birthday – celebrated on the birthday of the reigning Emperor. The current Emperor Naruhito’s birthday is 23 February.
  • Vernal Equinox Day – 20 March
  • Showa Day – 29 April
  • Constitution Day (Kenpō Kinenbi) – 3 May
  • Greenery Day – 4 May
  • Children’s Day – 5 May
  • Sea Day or Marine Day – 3rd Monday in July
  • Mountain Day – 11 August 11
  • Respect for the Aged Day – 3rd Monday in September
  • Autumnal Equinox Day – 22 September
  • Sports Day –2nd Monday in October
  • Culture Day – 3 November
  • Labor Thanksgiving Day – November 23.

Sources of information

  • Australian Bureau of Statistics 2021 Census Country of birth QuickStats
  • SBS Cultural Atlas
  • Encyclopedia of Melbourne (School of Historical Studies at the University of Melbourne, in association with the University of Melbourne's eScholarship Research Centre).
  • The Migrant Information Centre (Eastern Melbourne).