Could Tokyo's Declining Population be a Much Needed Change?

Japan’s population totaled 125,502,000 as of Oct. 1, down 644,000 from a year earlier to mark the biggest decline on record in the rapidly graying nation, government data showed Friday. The population dipped for the 11th consecutive year, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications said.

According to the ministry, the overall population fell as deaths exceeded births by 609,000 and as people who moved out of the country outnumbered those who moved in by 35,000. Japan saw its natural population decline accelerate by over 100,000 and logged its first population outflow in nine years amid entry restrictions on foreign residents due to COVID-19.

Tokyo’s population shrank for the first time in 26 years, falling by 38,000 to 14.01 million, while all 47 prefectures except Okinawa posted a fall. Prefectures that had seen population growth in recent years saw their populations fall, including Chiba, Fukuoka, Kanagawa and Saitama.

The rate of population decline expanded in 33 prefectures, led by Osaka, which posted a drop of 0.36%, 0.31 percentage points faster than in the previous year. The pandemic and the subsequent rise in the number of people working remotely are believed to have discouraged people from moving to Tokyo and encouraged residents in the capital to move out to other parts of the country, people familiar with the matter said.

The ministry data also showed that the proportion of people age 15 to 64 stood at a record low of 59.4% while that of those age 65 or older hit a record high of 28.9%. People age 14 or younger accounted for a record-low 11.8%. The number of foreign nationals living in Japan fell by 25,000 to 2,722,000 in part due to the tighter border restrictions.

(Source: The Japan Times | Pic: Old Man Near Tulips, Aaron Shumaker)

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