A total of 86% of municipalities across Japan feel the need to increase foreign labor, a recent survey by Kyodo News has shown, underscoring the serious shortage of workers in farming and other key sectors as the country grapples with a declining population.

In a survey covering all 47 prefectures as well as cities and other municipalities, 84% of local government heads said they were either “strongly” concerned or “somewhat” afraid that their communities are at risk of disappearing.

The figure marks an increase compared to a 2015 study that showed 77% of local government leaders were apprehensive about their communities' future. A private group had warned in 2014 that 896 municipalities could face extinction in the future.