A couple of weeks ago the latest Japanese population figures were released by that country’s Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry – an annual report on the country’s population growth and distribution. (The official census is held every five years – the next is due in 2020.)
According to the Japan Times, the demographic news is not so good: in fact, once again the population dropped and once again the drop was at a record annual rate. The population as at 1 January 2018 comprised of 125,209,603 native citizens with another 2,497,656 foreign residents. Just as they have in the last few years, those two numbers are converging: the number of native citizens is declining, while the number of foreign residents is increasing.
For the ninth straight year, the number of citizens declined. This time the figure dropped by 374,055, the fastest decline ever seen in these statistics since 1968, the year they were first compiled. The number of births declined again to a record low of 948,396, the second year in a row in which the figure has been below 1 million. Deaths were recorded as 1,340,774.
Conversely, the number of foreign residents in Japan increased by 174,228. In the future, this figure is expected to continue to rise, with Prime Minister Abe’s government approving a policy last month to welcome more foreign workers to address labour shortages resulting from the shrinking population.
The composition of the population continues to get older and more concentrated. The number of Japanese aged 65 years or older grew by 0.49 per cent to 27.66 per cent of the population. This proportion was more than double the number of children aged 14 or younger who make up only 12.57 per cent. And Tokyo increasingly dominates the country demographically: the capital and its vicinity (including Saitama, Chiba and Kanagawa prefectures) saw an increase in population to 35,443,084 or nearly 28.5 per cent of the country’s population. If Tokyo keeps on growing at this rate it will soon get to be as dominant as Auckland is here in New Zealand (about a third of the overall population). As it is, the Japanese government is concerned at the excessive growth of the capital’s population and is trying to curb it. This might be hard to do if young people continue to move to Osaka and Tokyo in search of jobs and economic opportunity.
In short then, the Japanese population is continuing its downward trend and doesn’t look like stopping anytime soon. Perhaps I should save this blogpost for my next Japanese update and regurgitate it with the only the numbers amended. The theme I’m sure will remain constant in hte meantime.