Nineteen out of the 47 prefectures will likely experience at least a 20 percent drop in population in 2035 as the birthrate plunges and the proportion of elderly grows, the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry said in a report released Tuesday.
Only Tokyo and Okinawa Prefecture are projected to increase their populations compared with 2005 during the three-decade period.
Tokyo is expected to continue growing, with the capital accounting for 11.5 percent of the total population in 2035, up from 9.8 percent in 2005.
The 19 prefectural populations expected to shrink are Hokkaido, Aomori, Iwate, Akita, Yamagata, Fukushima, Niigata, Toyama, Nara, Wakayama, Shimane, Yamaguchi, Tokushima, Kagawa, Ehime, Kochi, Nagasaki, Miyazaki and Kagoshima.
In Akita Prefecture, the population will probably drop to two-thirds of its 2005 level of 1.15 million, which would put it at less than a million.
Japan’s population, including foreign residents, stood at about 127 million as of Oct. 1, 2005, according to the national census that year.
The latest estimates were produced by the health ministry’s National Institute of Population and Social Security Research, which carried out multiple five-year projections for each prefecture through 2035, based on an estimate it made in December. That estimate projected that the nation’s population would shrink to 110.68 million in 2035 and 89.93 million in 2055.
The projection released Tuesday expects populations to drop in 40 prefectures in 2010 from their 2005 levels. From 2000 to 2005, 32 prefectures saw their populations decline.
The populations of Tokyo and Okinawa Prefecture, however, are expected to rise through 2020. This is because population inflows into Tokyo are expected to continue and the birthrate in Okinawa is expected to remain relatively high. But Tokyo’s population will begin to decline in the 2020-2025 period, and Okinawa’s will start deflating in 2025-2030.
Against the 2005 base figure of 100, Okinawa’s population in 2035 will be 104.4 and Tokyo’s 100.9.
In contrast, Akita’s population will be 68.3, Wakayama’s 71.2 and Aomori’s 73.1. Sixteen other prefectures will drop to below 80.
The number of prefectures with fewer than 1 million people will grow to 15 in 2035, compared with seven in 2005.
By region, southern Kanto, which comprises Tokyo and Chiba, Saitama and Kanagawa prefectures, will account for 29.8 percent of the overall population, up from 27.0 percent in 2005.