Japan’s population falls by record 644,000

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — Japan’s population including foreigners stood at 125,502,000 as of Oct. 1 last year, down by 644,000, or 0.51%, from a year earlier, marking the steepest drop under comparable data available since 1950, the internal affairs ministry said Friday.

The country’s total population fell for the 11th straight year, with Tokyo’s population declining for the first time since 1995, by 38,000 to 14.01 million.

The novel coronavirus crisis and the subsequent spread of remote working are believed to have discouraged people from moving to Tokyo and encouraged residents in the capital to move out to live in more livable areas including in neighboring prefectures, people familiar with the matter 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 the natural population decline accelerate by over 100,000 and logged the first population outflow in nine years amid entry restrictions for foreigners to prevent the spread of the virus.

The ministry data also showed that the proportion of people aged 15 to 64, or productive-age population, stood at a record low of 59.4% while that of those aged 65 or older hit a record high of 28.9%. People aged 14 or younger accounted for a record-low 11.8%. Those figures confirm the declining birthrate and graying society, pundits said.

Among Japan’s 47 prefectures, only Okinawa posted population growth while population turned to drop in Chiba, Fukuoka, Kanagawa and Saitama in addition to Tokyo.

The rate of population decline expanded in 33 prefectures led by Osaka, which posted 0.31-percentage-point faster drop of 0.36%.

Okinawa was also the only prefecture to mark a natural population increase.

Meanwhile, eight prefectures logged net population inflows including Ibaraki and Yamanashi, which recorded net outflows a year earlier.