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Ageing with no successors: Japan's population sees steepest fall since 1968

On the other hand, there was a 10.7 per cent jump in foreign residents with addresses registered in Japan

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BS Web Team New Delhi

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Japan this week reported that its population declined in all of its 47 prefectures for the first time, while its number of foreign residents hit a new high, reaching almost 3 million people. This is the steepest fall in the country's population since its government started recording data in 1968.

According to the data, in 2022, the population of Japanese nationals fell by about 800,000 people (0.65 per cent) to 122.4 million from the previous year, falling for a 14th straight year. It is based on residency registrations as of January 1 this year.

The data also highlights the increasing role that non-Japanese people play in the shrinking and ageing country.

Japan's total population was 125.41 million, down just over half a million people from a year earlier.

On the other hand, there was a 10.7 per cent jump in foreign residents with addresses registered in Japan, Japan's Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry said.

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 per cent of Japan's population.

Also Read: Population of Japanese citizens falls in all 47 prefectures for first time

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

The shrinking of the population is also impacting the way businesses are run in the Asian nation. According to a report by UPI, more than 1.2 million small businesses in the country are run by people aged over 70 years with no successors in line.

According to a report by the Associated Press (AP), Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has set tackling the declining births as one of his top policy goals and pledged to secure annual funding of about $25.2 billion over the next three years for a new child care package, which includes childbirth and rearing allowances and increased subsidies for higher education.

Also Read: Japan's central bank retains interest rate, will fine-tune bond purchases

Moreover, they are also offering families $7,500 per child to move out of Tokyo to revive the birth rate. In April, the country also opened a new agency, the Children and Families Agency, to lead and coordinate efforts to reverse the low birth rate. It will also address issues like child abuse and poverty. 

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, in 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.

Also Read: Trade between Russia, Africa reached $18 billion in 2022: Vladimir Putin

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.

(With agency inputs)

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First Published: Jul 28 2023 | 10:31 AM IST

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