It seems that in general it depends on the country, so I'm wondering if anyone has recent information about doing this from Japan. I'm just assuming Tokyo is the most likely place where this would work.
According to the Chinese Visa Application Service Centre (the organization responsible for all visas in Japan):
Non-Japan citizens shall provide documents that entitle them to reside for an extended period of time in Japan provide original and photocopy.
Temporary visitors to Japan should apply for a Chinese visa in their own country. For the special cases, consular officer has the rights to make the final decision on whether issuing a visa or not.
Therefore generally speaking the answer is no, you may not apply for a Chinese visa from Japan.
Instead, I would recommend traveling to Hong Kong and getting your visa there. It's generally a lot easier and doesn't require local residency.
Ask Chinese visa application service center.
Related announce from Embassy of China here.(In Japanese) (2016/09/30)
(They don't have English page.)
A translation of the full announcement.
Notice of discontinuation of General Passport Visa and Certification by the Chinese Embassy
In order to combat the congestion and delays associated with a rise in use of consular services, the Chinese Embassy in the interest of improving services, in line with similar moves by other country's embassies, has entrusted all related business to the 「Chinese Visa Application Service Centre (Tokyo)」. Details as follows.
From October 27, 2016, all general enquires (visa application or authentication of business application) by those with a general passport (excluding those instructed by the embassy or those on diplomatic business) who are under the jurisdiction of the Chinese Embassy Tokyo's Consular Section (Tokyo, Kanagawa, Saitama, Nagano, Yamanashi, Shizuoka, Gunma, Tochigi and Ibaraki Prefectures) should be made to the Chinese Visa Application Service Centre. The deadline for application of these two types of application for processing at the embassy is 26 October 2016. Visas for the China-Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Visa (Hong Kong Entry Permit), the Macao Special Administrative Region Visa, a holder of a Diplomatic Passport / Public Service Passport or Diplomatic Staff with a General Passport should apply directly to the consular section of the Chinese Embassy as normal.
The address of the Chinese Visa Application Service Centre (Tokyo) is Tokyo, Minato-ku, Toranomon 4-1-17 Kamiyacho Prime Place 8F For more information about operational status and other business content, please refer to the center's website http://www.visaforchina.org
Ambassador of the Embassy of the People's Republic of China in Japan
protected by Community♦ Mar 30 '18 at 4:57
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