Is Japan’s Population Decline Worse than Previously Thought? That was my first question when I saw this semi-amusing story from the Daily Yomiuri Online.  The former Deputy Mayor of the town of Higashiura, in the Aichi Prefecture in Honshu, Japan has been arrested “on suspicion he deliberately padded the town’s population data in the 2010 census.”  The town was aiming to be upgraded to the administrative status of a city, a goal which requires a population of at least 50,000 citizens.  According to the Daily Yomiuri Online:

“The Aichi prefectural police department arrested Hideo Ogisu, 63, on Friday for his alleged violation of the Statistics Act. Ogisu has denied the charge, saying he never instructed or approved any misconduct, according to sources familiar with the investigation. But town officials who were in charge of the census said in voluntary questioning by the police that they were instructed by Ogisu to overstate the population. This led the police to believe the data padding was a systematic act orchestrated by Ogisu, the sources said.”

A violation of the Statistics Act sounds like a terrible crime to have on your record…up there with j-walking and chewing gum in Singapore.  However, it seems as if the padding of the population was unsuccessful. According to Wikipedia at least, Higashiura is still a town and has a population agonisingly short of 50,000: 49,794 (Nov 2011 est). With Japan’s population declining (especially outside of the main urban areas) I would be very surprised if Higashiura ever made it to the magical 50,000 mark. I wonder if Mr Hideo Ogisu was of the same mind set and thought that the only way to boost his town’s population was to manipulate the figures?

Marcus Roberts is a Senior Researcher at the Maxim Institute in Auckland, New Zealand, and was co-editor of the former MercatorNet blog, Demography is Destiny. Marcus has a background in the law, both...