Japan’s population has fallen at the fastest rate last year since its survey started in 1968. As per government data released on Wednesday, the number decreased by 308,084 from the previous year to 125,583,658 as of January 1, 2017.
According to Japan’s Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry, this marked the eighth consecutive year of decline, despite the fact that measures have been taken to address the graying society.
The country’s “natural population loss,” which basically subtracts deaths from births, was 328,313. This resulted from the fact that there were only 981,202 births and a chilling 1,309,515 deaths for the year, the Japan Times reported.
The decline was recorded in 41 out of 47 prefectures. Among the six left with growth, Tokyo recorded the most at 77,400, an increase of 0.60% from the previous year. Kanagawa, Saitama, Chiba, Aichi and Okinawa prefectures followed. Only Okinawa recorded more births than deaths.
With a loss of 33,593, Hokkaido saw the largest decrease in population, while Akita had the fastest drop at 1.34%.
In terms of age, people 65 and above made up a whopping 27.17% of the population, while those 14 and below made up 12.69%, following a trend of decline.
Interestingly, the number of foreigners increased to 2,323,428, 6.85% up the previous year. Saga Prefecture recorded the fastest increase at 13.21%, equivalent to 5,143 people, as it accepted more international students and offered more training on technical skills for foreigners.
Most registered foreigners, at 486,346, were in Tokyo — an increase of 8.31% from the previous year. Aichi and Osaka Prefectures followed with 217,218 (up 7.69%) and 215,057 (up 3.72%), respectively.
Still, Japan’s overall population — counting both Japanese and foreigners — fell by 159,125 from the previous year to 127,907,086.
Masakazu Yamauchi, associate professor of population geography at Waseda University, commented (via The Mainichi):
“The latest announcement shows a continuation of the current trend and is therefore no big surprise. In order to create and maintain a better society for the next generation, we should place importance on developing an environment that allows people to have families and make their living wherever they live, by improving employment situations and child-rearing support.”
How do you think can Japan solve its demographic issues?
Feature Image via Flickr / Mr Hicks46 (CC BY-SA 2.0)