Japan Population 2018
Japan, the island nation in East Asia, is a fairly sizable archipelago of 6,852 islands, although the four largest islands (Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu and Shitoku) account for 97% of its population. The last set of official figures pertaining to Japan’s population were released at the time of the 2015 census and the final statistics showed there were 127,094,745 people there, which would make Japan the tenth largest country in the world. The most recent estimate places the number lower at 126.71 million, still the world's 10th most populous country. Though in decline, it still holds that position in 2018 with an estimated 127.19 million people.
The commonly held view that the population of Japan is in line for a sharp decline is backed up by the numbers. Based on the projections by the United Nations (visible in the graph below), the downturn will continue, and possibly accelerate.
Japan Population Density
Japan is comprised of more than 6,800 islands, although its largest four claim 97% of its population. During the 2010-2015 period, the population of Japan declined by 947 thousand (0.7%), or by 189 thousand (0.15%) per year. It declined for the first time since the Population Census was begun in 1920.
As we’ve seen, the final census figures for 2015 showed a final count of 127,094,745 people with a population density of 340.8 people per square kilometers, thereby making Japan the 40th most densely populated country on the planet.
Unlike many other countries around the world today, the population of Japan appears largely homogenous with the final population statistics comprised of a 98.5% contribution from ethnic Japanese people. In addition, there is a very small proportion of foreign workers living here, largely made up of Koreans, Chinese, Peruvians and Brazilians.
The largest native ethnic group in Japan is the Yamato people, although large minority groups include the indigenous Ryukyuan and Ainu peoples. While Japan may seem homogenous in terms of ethnicity and culture, this may be due to Japan's absence of racial and ethnic statistics for Japanese nationals. The country has traditionally rejected the need to recognize ethnic differences in Japan, and former Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso once described the country as one of "one nation, one civilization, one language, one culture and one race."
Japan is currently the world's oldest country, and it's set to get even older. The number of elderly people aged 65 or older accounts for 26.7 percent of the 127.11 million total population, up 3.7 percentage points from five years ago, a summary report of the 2015 national census shows. In 2050, it's estimated by the government that 40% of Japan's population will be over 65. In the last few decades, the country's social security budget has increased 15%. While 5 decades ago there were 12 workers for every retiree, there will be an equal 1:1 ratio in 50 years. This is one of any demographics problems Japan must address.
Reasons for Falling Numbers
Some reports claim that Japan’s total population could fall by as much as 30% to around 87 million by 2050 and the reasons, quite simply, point to a disparity in the birth and death rates. In addition, it’s impossible to rule out the part that the March 2011 tsunami and earthquake played. 19,000 people lost their lives at the time, and it’s widely accepted that the incidents will have a ‘knock-on’ effect of reducing overall life expectancy.
The difference between rising death rates and lower birth rates is also clearly a factor with low fertility rates among women shouldering part of the blame. Experts attribute Japan's low growth to the high cost of raising children in the country, the growing number of women who choose to work longer and have a career rather than have children, and Japan's reluctance to accept immigrants.
Another statistic that doesn’t help the population decline is the alarming number of suicides in young people.
Unfortunately, Japan has one of the world's highest suicide rates, and suicide is the leading cause of death for people under 30. Factors in suicides in the country include social pressure, depression and unemployment, and the National Police Agency found that suicides linked to job loss increased 65.4%. There was a suicide in Japan every 15 minutes, with close to 33,000 reported in 2009. Luckily, suicide rates have been on the decline for three consecutive years. This is just one of the many problems Japan will need to control to see its population and economy grow into the future.
The Future of Japan
Overall, Japan has the highest life expectancy in the world even though it is expected to fall slightly in the near future. However, with low birth rates, the population is rapidly aging but in 2007, the country announced its first significant birth rate increase in many years, so could the predictions be false?
Incentives to have more children are also being announced, but as a whole, the country is just starting to feel the effects of a post-war baby boom, many of whom are now nearing the end of their years.
Slowing population growth and an aging population are creating more than a headache for the island nation, as this problem is shrinking its pool of taxable citizens, causing the social welfare costs to skyrocket, and has led to Japan becoming the most indebted industrial nation with public debt that is double its economy.
It's possible that Japan's population will drop to just 96 million (from 2015's 127 million) by 2050, and the country as a whole is involved in serious debate about how to fix this problem. While birth incentives and immigration incentives are often suggested as the solution to bring the young workers necessary to support the country's aging population, time will tell if this is enough.
Japan's population growth rate declined in 2015 to -0.07%.
Japan Population History
By 1873 (the approximate time of the Meiji Restoration), Tokyo Japan had a population of just over a half of a million residents, which tripled in size in only 30 years to over 1,500,000 individuals. The total estimated population of the time was already well over 33 million residents as well. The strong growth of this country is evident even from the start of national censuses, which were officially began in 1920 and every 5 years after.
Components of Population Change
|One birth every 31 seconds|
|One death every 23 seconds|
|One net migrant every 11 minutes|
|Net loss of one person every 2 minutes|