The number of Japanese people has experienced the fastest decline ever, with the population falling for the 14th consecutive year. Resident registration data as of January 1, 2023, released by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, revealed that the number of Japanese nationals decreased by approximately 800,000 people to 122.42 million. This decline highlights the ageing nature of Japanese society, impacting all 47 prefectures.
Rise in Foreign Residents
In contrast, the number of foreign nationals residing in Japan reached a record high of 2.99 million, representing a substantial 10.7% increase from the previous year. This surge in foreign residents, the largest year-on-year increase recorded in a decade, indicates their growing significance in compensating for the shrinking Japanese population.
Government’s Efforts to Address the Issue
The Japanese government is actively addressing the demographic challenge by seeking various solutions. One strategy involves maximizing the employment of women and the elderly to secure a stable workforce. Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno emphasized labour market reforms as a way to achieve this goal.
Prime Minister’s Focus on Reversing the Birth Rate Decline
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has prioritized reversing the declining birth rate as a crucial objective. Despite facing high levels of debt, the government plans to allocate 3.5 trillion yen (approximately $25 billion) annually for childcare and other measures supporting parents.
Importance of Foreign Workers
Public think tanks in Tokyo highlighted the necessity of an increased number of foreign workers to achieve the government’s economic growth forecasts. They estimated that Japan would require about four times as many foreign workers by 2040.
Impact of Population Changes in Tokyo
Tokyo, the capital city of Japan, boasts the highest number of foreign residents, totalling 581,112 individuals, making up approximately 4.2% of the city’s population.
The newly released data underscores the critical demographic shifts occurring in Japan and emphasizes the vital role foreign residents play in the country’s workforce and society.