Japan’s population has fallen under 125 million during its 12th straight year of decline.
The Japanese population reportedly decreased by 556,000 to 124.9 million in 2022 compared to a year earlier, according to government data released on Wednesday.
The data found that the number of Japanese nationals shrank by 750,000 to 122,031,000, which is the largest margin of decline since 1950. As for the foreign population, it increased by 194,000 to 2,916,000 in 2022 following the relaxation of COVID-19 border restrictions.
Japan’s number of working people between 15 and 64, which accounts for 59.4% of the overall population, has dropped by 296,000 to 74,208,000. As for those 14 and under, they accounted for an all-time low of 11.6% of the total population, while those 65 and over made up a record-high of 29%.
According to the report, the growing number of foreign residents in Japan has helped the country’s overall population in recent years.
Tokyo’s population increased by 0.20%, rebounding from the first drop in 26 years last year caused by the pandemic.
However, the number of residents in Japan’s 46 other prefectures have fallen, with deaths outnumbering births in all prefectures for the first time.
Japan’s health ministry reported last year that the total number of births declined to 799,728 in 2022 — the lowest since the ministry began keeping record in 1899. As for the number of deaths, it rose by 8.9% to 1.58 million for the same time period.
The record lows undermine the country’s initiatives to remedy its aging population.
At a press conference, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno reportedly said that the government will address its falling birthrate “with the highest priority.”
Japan — the world’s third-largest economy — has been working to increase the labor force and to support children and their families in efforts to boost the population and economy.
The government has allocated 4.8 trillion yen (approximately $36 billion) from the fiscal 2023 budget to a new agency dedicated to children and their families.
The low fertility rates, which are also present in other Asian countries including South Korea and China, are due to demanding work cultures, rising costs of living and changing attitudes toward marriage and gender equality, according to experts.