Photo/IllutrationForeign students take a study tour at Daiyu Co.’s factory in Shinjo, Yamagata Prefecture, on Sept. 26. (Kazuya Miki)

A record-high 22,419 foreign graduates entered the Japanese work force in 2017, up about 15 percent from the previous year and more than double the total in 2012, the Justice Ministry said Oct. 10.

Those 22,419 international students, who graduated from Japanese universities and other educational institutions, such as vocational schools, were granted a change in visa status to legally start working in Japan.

However, 5,507 foreign students were not approved for a change in status, also a record high, the ministry said.

Nearly half of the graduates who received the change in residence status, or 10,326, came from China, followed by Vietnam with 4,633, and Nepal with 2,026.

Asian countries accounted for 95 percent of the total.

Translator and interpreter jobs were obtained by 8,715 of the graduates, while 5,172 found work in sales and business, and 3,479 joined businesses dealing with overseas companies.

To work in Japan, graduates need to obtain a visa in accordance with the type of occupation.

The Justice Ministry said many of those who were rejected were engaged in menial tasks and other work not covered by visas.

The ministry also noted an increase in the number of foreign students skipping classes and dropping out.