Japan’s population declines nationwide for the first time

Japan’s population shrank for the 14th year in a row, at the fastest rate in history, and fell across all 47 prefectures for the first time.

Japan’s Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications on July 26 released citizen registration data as of January 1, showing that the number of Japanese nationals was 122.42 million, down 800,000 from last year.

This is the 14th year in a row that Japan’s population has declined, but the first decline across all prefectures nationwide since data began to be recorded in 1968.

Okinawa Prefecture experienced its first population decline since 1973. Japan’s total population, including foreigners, also fell by 511,000, to 125.4 million.

Crowds gather at Ameyoko food street in Tokyo, December 29, 2022.  Photo: Reuters

Crowds gather at Ameyoko food street in Tokyo, December 29, 2022. Image: Reuters

Meanwhile, the number of foreigners living in this country reached 2.99 million, an increase of 289,000 people compared to last year. This is the largest increase ever and also the first time foreigners in Japan increased after three years of impact from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Theo Reuters, the results show that Japanese society is aging nationwide and that foreign nationals are playing a “bigger than ever” role in trying to offset the effects of a declining population. The Japan Population and Social Security Research Institute (IPSS) estimates that foreign nationals will make up 10% of the country’s population by 2070.

Since peaking in 2008 with 128 million people, Japan’s population has been shrinking year by year, as the birth rate hit a record low last year. The proportion of people aged 65 and over in the country increased to more than 29% in 2022.

In a policy speech in January, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Japan’s low birth rate and aging population pose an urgent risk to society. According to Senator Masako Mori, an adviser to Mr. Kishida, Japan risks “disappearing” if it does not act.

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