Japan's ageing population drops by a record 800,000 in one year

Japan’s ageing population drops by a record 800,000 in one year amid declining birthrate

  • PM has pledged to secure annual funding of ~£19bn for a new child care package

Japan’s population fell by a record 800,000 people last year, declining in all 47 of its prefectures.

A declining birthrate saw the total population fall by 0.65 per cent, down to 122.4 million in 2022 from the previous year.

It is the 14th consecutive year the population of Japanese nations has fallen, according to data from the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry. 

This comes in spite of the number of foreign residents to the country reaching an all-time high of almost three million people, according to official data released today.

Fumio Kishida attends a press conference in Qatar on July 18, 2023. Japan’s Prime Minister has set tackling the declining birthrate as one of his top policy goals

The ministry said that there was a 10.7 per cent jump in the number of foreign residents with addresses registered in Japan.

The data was collected from residency registrations up to January 1, 2023. 

The increase in Japan’s foreign population was the biggest year-on-year rise since the ministry started taking statistics in 2013. 

Foreign residents now account for about 2.4% of Japan’s population, the ministry said.

After peaking in 2008, Japan’s population has since shrunk steadily due to a declining birthrate. The country saw a record low of 771,801 births last year.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has set tackling the declining births as one of his top policy goals.

He has also pledged to secure annual funding of about 3.5 trillion yen (£19.28 billion) over the next three years for a new child care package.

This would include child birth and rearing allowances and increased subsidies for higher education.

Ryusuke Sekino is held by his mother Toshiko Sekino, accompanied by family members as he is discharged from a hospital in Azumino, central Japan, Saturday, April 20, 2019

Kishida’s Cabinet last month approved a plan to expand the scope of job categories allowed for foreign workers, opening the door for future permanent residency.

It is a major shift in a country known for its closed-door immigration policy as it struggles with a shrinking population.

Experts say the proposed low-birth measures are mostly additional funding for existing ones and don’t address underlying problems.

They also say that Japan’s conservative government needs to do more to raise salaries, improve working conditions and make society more inclusive for minorities and those with non-Japanese roots to attract foreign workers to move to Japan and stay.

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