In 2022, the total number of people living in Japan decreased by roughly 800,000, while each of Japan’s 47 prefectures reported a population decline of at least one resident. The data that were just revealed by Japan’s ministry of internal affairs represent two new records that are uncomfortable for a nation that is sailing into uncharted demographic terrain but is on a trajectory that many other countries are expected to follow.
The trend has been labelled a crisis by the prime minister of Japan, who has also pledged to take action to address the matter. In spite of this, national initiatives have not been successful in stemming tide of population loss, and also coordinated efforts made by a few scattered small communities have had some impact.
There were barely 771,000 births in Japan in 2022, marking the first time the number of newborns has dipped below 800,000 since records began. The new data that was released on Wednesday indicated that the number of deaths set a record high of more than 1.56 million in Japan in 2022.
Even an all-time high increase in the number of foreign residents of more than 10%, to 2.99 million, was not enough to stop the slide in the total population, which has decreased for 14 years in a row, and is projected to reach 122.42 million in 2022.
In January, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida cautioned that “our nation is on cusp of whether it can maintain its societal functions.” He stated that addressing the birthrate was “now or never” and that it was “now or never” to solve the issue.
Already, practically every facet of Japanese life is being impacted by the country’s rapidly ageing population. More than one-half of all towns have been categorized as depopulated areas, schools are being shut down, and the proprietors of more than one million small companies are beyond the age of 70 with no heir apparent.
Commercials on the Broadcast Satellite (BS) channels consist of a parade of offerings for burial services, supplements to soothe hurting joints, and incontinence pads. The programming on these channels is aimed at an older population.
The majority of yakuza are over the age of 50, and there are now more criminals in their 70s than there are in their 20s; the criminal underground in Japan has not gone untouched either. In the meantime, senior porn is a burgeoning niche that is occupied by a few silver stars who are in their 60s, 70s, and even 80s.
The new Children and Families Agency was established on April 1, bringing all of the pertinent issues, including the birthrate, under the purview of a single organization. The administration has also committed to increasing expenditure on childcare and allowances to 4% of GDP, despite the fact that previous efforts to reduce the birthrate through the implementation of daycare and education subsidies have had little success.
Despite this, about 300 smaller towns have dramatically increased the number of births using a combination of policies to create more child-friendly surroundings and generous financial incentives.
Although Nagi in Okayama prefecture, which became something of a poster child for increasing the number of children born, has seen its birthrate slightly dip slightly in recent years, municipalities that offered the best deals to new parents almost certainly benefited from migration from other areas by those already planning to have families. The decline in the number of births is not unique to Japan. The OECD group of wealthy nations has a fertility rate that is 1.66 on average, which is significantly lower when compared with replacement rate of 2.1 that is required to keep population numbers stable.
Although Japan’s population started to decline before that of other countries – peaking in 2008 — declines in fertility rates have been more abrupt elsewhere, particularly in East Asia. This is particularly true of the situation in Japan.
Taiwan is located in close proximity to Japan and has a birth rate of 1.24 babies per woman, whereas South Korea has the lowest rate in the world, with just 0.78 babies per woman.