The population of Japan is expected to plunge to 88.08 million in 2065, marking a roughly 30 percent fall from the 2015 level, a government-affiliated research institute said Monday.
The announcement by the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research confirms that depopulation, which started in 2008 after Japan’s population peaked at 128.08 million, is here to stay. It urged the country to prepare for consequences in wide-ranging areas, including the pension and health care systems.
The estimated population decline, which includes non-Japanese residents, is smaller than a similar study released in 2012, in which the population was predicted to plummet to 86.74 million by 2060. The difference stems from recent subtle increases in the average number of childbirths among women in their 30s and 40s, the institute said.
It also said the population is likely to fall below the 100 million mark in 2053, five years later than in a previous projection in 2015. Still, the report casts doubt on the chances of the government achieving its goal of maintaining a population of 100 million into the 2060s.
The average life expectancy is estimated to increase to 84.95 years for men and 91.35 years for women in 2065, from 80.75 years for men and 86.98 years for women in 2015.
People 65 or older, meanwhile, will account for 38.4 percent of the total population in 2065, the latest report estimated.
The birthrate, one of the statistical tools used to predict future population, was 1.45 in 2015. It is projected to dip to 1.42 in 2024 before rising to 1.44 in 2065, higher than the previous estimate of 1.35 in 2060.
The government announces long-term population projections every five years, based on the number of births, deaths and cross-border moves of people.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has made countering population woes one of his top priorities, aiming for a birthrate of 1.8 children per woman, up from the current 1.4. However, unlike in many other advanced countries where immigration makes up for declining birthrates, Japan remains reluctant to open its doors to large-scale immigration.
Depopulation is already hitting many cities and rural areas hard by drying up tax revenues and labor forces. The city of Shizuoka announced last week that its population was estimated to have dipped to 699,421 as of April 1, falling below the 700,000 mark for the first time since it became an ordinance-designated major city.
There are currently 20 such cities in Japan, which qualify for more bureaucratic power and autonomy as well as a bigger allocation of taxes from the central government. Shizuoka, sandwiched between Tokyo and Nagoya, has seen hordes of young people bolt for colleges and jobs, it said
Even Tokyo, which enjoys an influx of young people from across the country, expects to see the tide change after 2025, according to a forecast released by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government in November. The capital’s population is tipped to fall to 11.73 million in 2060, down 13 percent from 2015.