Japan’s population falls by a record 244,000 in 2013


Japan’s population fell by a record 244,000 in 2013, according to health ministry estimates released on Wednesday, highlighting concerns over an ever-dwindling workforce supporting a growing number of pensioners.

An estimated 1,031,000 babies were born in 2013, down about 6,000 from a year earlier, the ministry said.

On the other hand, around 1,275,000 people died — up about 19,000 from the previous year, the highest annual rise since World War II.

As a result, the natural population decline came to a record 244,000, the ministry said, beating the previous highest fall of 219,000 in 2012.

Japan’s population totalled 126,393,679 as of March 31, down 0.21 percent from a year earlier, according to a government figure.

It has continually declined since 2007 by natural attrition — deaths minus births.

Japan is rapidly greying, with more than 20 percent of the population aged 65 or over — one of the highest proportions of elderly people in the world. The country has very little immigration and any suggestion of opening its borders to young workers who could help plug the population gap provokes strong reactions among the public.

The proportion of people aged 65 or over will reach nearly 40 percent of the population in 2060, according to a 2012 government report.

  • Roy Warner

    “any suggestion of opening its borders to young workers who could help plug the population gap provokes strong reactions among the public.” This statement is incorrect. Suggestions of immigration provoke strong reactions from the reactionary rightists who fill the bureaucracy and the ruling party and are echoed by thugs that roam the streets of Tokyo harassing immigrants at their pleasure.

    • disqus_Gvs3G32z1K

      Unfortunately, it’s the rightists who call the shots now.

  • Edmund Singleton

    There are some in every country that would rather have their way of life dye then see it altered slightly by accepting

  • vamark

    Why focus only on natural population change? True population change = births – deaths + immigration – emigration. Why no stats for the number of immigrants and emigrants? The article says that Japan has “very little immigration” but I’m sure the number of immigrants is significant compared to 244k. Are more people moving to or from Japan? All of this would be helpful to know.

  • RoswellMatt

    Japan is extremely densely populated. Why would they need immigrants?

  • Phil Hartman

    A little less population in Japan could actually be good, but the real problem here is that this is a trend. The population decline curve will get steeper and if it is never reversed the Japanese people will simply go extinct. Convincing people to make babies again is pretty hard after they’ve gotten so used to not doing it. At the very least they need to increased the rate to 2.1 to just stabilize the situation.