Japan’s population crisis is deepening as new government data shows that every single prefecture in the country saw a population decline in 2022. This marks the first time since records began that the number of Japanese nationals has fallen across the board in all 47 prefectures.
Largest Annual Drop on Record
The total population of Japanese citizens dropped by a staggering 801,000 to 122.4 million, the biggest single year decline since statistics were first collected in 1968. Japan’s total population, including foreign residents, fell by 511,000 to 125.4 million.
This continues a downward spiral that has seen the population decrease for 14 straight years now.
More Deaths Than Births
A key factor driving the declines is that deaths now significantly outnumber births in Japan. There were a record low 772,000 births in 2022, far below the record high 1.57 million deaths recorded in the same period.
Japan’s birth rate has been below replacement levels for decades, meaning not enough babies are being born to replace the population. At the same time, rising life expectancies mean the elderly make up an increasing proportion of the populace.
Impact Across Society
The population crisis threatens to have far-reaching impacts across Japanese society and the economy. Everything from tax revenues to the sustainability of rural communities is at stake if current trends continue.
Over 90% of municipalities saw drops in their Japanese populations. Schools and local businesses are being forced to close due to lack of children and customers.
Can the Decline be Reversed?
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has vowed to implement “unprecedented” measures to try and reverse the birth rate decline by 2030. However, previous government initiatives have failed to move the needle.
With time running out, more creative and ambitious policies will be needed to avoid Japan’s population problem becoming a full blown demographic disaster. The future of the world’s third largest economy hangs in the balance.
Source: Japan Times