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In August, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government announced that, for the first time since 1956, the capital’s monthly population report had recorded a drop.

As of June 1 there were 13.99 million people in Tokyo’s 23 wards, down from 14 million as of May 1. News of the slight decline, believed to be due to the novel coronavirus, came amid talk about how the pandemic might be an opportunity to end the over-concentration of people in Tokyo. Such talk, and efforts at decentralization, have a long but so far futile history.

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