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Japanese society is often said to be closed to foreigners, and yet in 2005 the number of foreign residents in Japan reached two million people (1.6 percent of the total population of the country). Among the foreigners in Japan, Iranians total about 5,000 people, constituting a small minority group. In the early 1990s, about 50,000 Iranians were residing in Japan; many of them were illegal workers. Despite the fact that most Iranians were obliged to return to their homeland after the Japanese legislation for immigration underwent changes in the early 1990s, an Iranian community in Japan continues to exist


Early times. The first mention of Iranians (Persians) coming to Japan can be found in the Nihon Shoki (Chronicles of Japan), one of the earliest Japanese historical sources, completed in 720 C.E. It records that in 654 C.E. several people arrived in Japan from Tokhārā (Aston, pp. 246, 251, 259). Though there is some controversy about the location of Tokhārā, some scholars have claimed the name to be a shortened version of Toḵārestān, which was part of the territory of Sasanian Persia (Itō, 1980, pp. 5-10). Elsewhere in the Nihon Shoki, it is mentioned that in 660, when an Iranian (Persian), whose name was Dārā, returned to his country, he left his wife in Japan and promised the Emperor that he would come back and work for him again (Aston, p. 266; Imoto, 2002, pp. 58-60).

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