1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Japan population slump accelerates, more foreigners arrive

July 26, 2023

The Japanese population is continuing to shrink at a record pace, although more foreigners live there than ever before. For the first time, the decline was apparent across the whole country.

An elderly man makes his way through crowds of shoppers in the plush Ginza district of Tokyo
Japan is aging more quickly than other developed nations, and it has fewer immigrantsImage: ROBERT GILHOOLY/epa/dpa/picture-alliance

Data released on Wednesday showed Japan's population declining at a record pace, with the number of nationals falling to 122.4 million — 801,000 fewer than a year earlier.

The figures show that, with declining birth rates and relatively low immigration, Japan is aging more rapidly than any other industrial nation.

What do the numbers show?

Japan's total population was 125.41 million, down just over half a million people from a year earlier, the country's Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry said. That overall slump is the steepest since 1968 when the government started the data survey. 

For the first time, the drop was noted across all 47 of Japan's prefectures.

Japan's population peaked in 2008, and since then it has steadily shrunk because of a declining birthrate — with a record low of 771,801 births last year.

Tokyo last month announced measures to turn around a trend that, while affecting many developed countries, is particularly acute in Japan.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said the government would channel some 3.5 trillion yen (about $25 billion or €23.5 billion) a year for child care and other measures to support parents.

Foreign residents at all-time high

The overall data included foreign residents with addresses registered in Japan, the number of which increased by 10.7% to reach a new high of 3 million.

That sharp increase coincided with the government's relaxation of COVID-19 pandemic border controls.

The Japanese government has also been working to ease some of the country's relatively strict immigration rules to address a labor shortage.

The capital, Tokyo, has the most foreign residents with 581,112, or 4.2% of the city's population.

rc/nm (dpa, Reuters, AP)