Japan’s Population Dips Below 125 Million: A 12-Year Downward Trend Continues

Japan’s population has experienced its 12th consecutive year of decline, falling below 125 million for the first time. According to government data released on Wednesday, the Japanese population dropped by 556,000 to 124.9 million in 2022 compared to the previous year.

The data reveals that the number of Japanese nationals decreased by a staggering 750,000 to 122,031,000, marking the largest margin of decline since 1950. In contrast, the foreign population in Japan increased by 194,000 to 2,916,000 in 2022, following the relaxation of COVID-19 border restrictions.

Japan’s working-age population, aged between 15 and 64, makes up 59.4% of the overall population and has fallen by 296,000 to 74,208,000. Meanwhile, those aged 14 and under account for a record-low 11.6% of the total population, and those 65 and over make up a record-high 29%.

The report indicates that the rising number of foreign residents in Japan has contributed to slowing the decline of the country’s overall population in recent years. Tokyo’s population increased by 0.20%, recovering from the first drop in 26 years last year, which was caused by the pandemic. However, the number of residents in Japan’s other 46 prefectures has decreased, with deaths outnumbering births in all prefectures for the first time.

Japan’s health ministry reported last year that the total number of births declined to 799,728 in 2022, the lowest since records began in 1899. Meanwhile, the number of deaths increased by 8.9% to 1.58 million for the same period.

These record lows challenge Japan’s efforts to address its aging population. Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno reportedly said at a press conference that the government would tackle the falling birthrate with the “highest priority.”

As the world’s third-largest economy, Japan has been striving to expand its labor force and support children and their families in order to stimulate the population and economy. The government has allocated 4.8 trillion yen (approximately $36 billion) from the fiscal 2023 budget to a new agency focused on children and their families.

Experts attribute the low fertility rates, which are also present in other Asian countries like South Korea and China, to demanding work cultures, rising costs of living, and shifting attitudes toward marriage and gender equality.

Written by Robert D