Expert Group Sets Japan Population Target of 80 Million in 2100; Current Projections Point to 63 Million if No Action Taken

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, right, receives a policy proposal from Akio Mimura, who chairs a panel of private-sector experts on population strategy, at the Prime Minister’s Office on Tuesday.

A panel of private-sector experts urged the government to aim for a “nation of 80 million people for Japan’s stability and growth” in 2100 in a proposal it released Tuesday to curb the decline of the nation’s population.

Japan’s total population peaked at 128.08 million in 2008 and has been on a rapid downward trend. According to the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research’s long-term estimates, the population is currently expected to halve to about 63 million in 2100.

 The proposal emphasizes the seriousness of the situation, warning that “it is important to correctly understand what grave consequences could occur” if the population does not stop declining, and that “a super-aging society and extinctions of local communities will stop [Japanese society] from advancing.”

It called for the integrated promotion of two strategies: one to stabilize the population at 80 million by 2100, and one to ensure diversity and growth even in a smaller population.

The first strategy sets 2060 as the year when the total fertility rate should reach 2.07 — a level at which a stable population can be maintained — and lists such specific measures as improving youth employment, hiring more women and creating a comprehensive child-rearing support system. The second strategy urges reform of low-productivity industries and investment in human resources.

As a framework for promoting these strategies, the panel requested the establishment of a population strategy task force, as well as a council under the direct control of the prime minister with authority to give recommendations, plus a platform where all sectors of society can discuss the matter. Additionally, a permanent organization is urged to be set up in the Diet to reach a suprapartisan consensus.

On Tuesday at the Prime Minister’s Office, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida received the proposal from Nippon Steel Corp. Honorary Chairman Akio Mimura, who chairs the private-sector expert panel, and said the government would work with the public and private sectors to bring about basic changes in the consciousness of society.

At a press conference in Tokyo, Mimura stressed the importance of sharing awareness throughout society by saying, “The current generation has a responsibility for the future of the next generation.”

Members of the panel, established in July, include former Internal Affairs and Communications Minister and current Japan Post Holdings Co. President Hiroya Masuda as well as Shiro Yamasaki, a special advisor to the Cabinet in charge of population issues.