The latest national census results underscore that Japan's population decline is now here to stay — and that the shrinking population is concentrated more than ever in Tokyo and its environs. The Abe administration has vowed to fight the demographic trend and stop the population flight to Tokyo by revitalizing regional economies. What the government should also be doing is facing up to the demographic reality and preparing a blueprint on how to sustain the nation's socioeconomic systems amid the population decline, including reform of medical and social security services.

The preliminary results of the 2015 census released last week paints a bleak picture of Japan's demographic woes. The total population including foreign residents as of Oct. 1 was 127.11 million, down by 947,000, or 0.7 percent, from the previous census in 2010 — a fall that a Cabinet minister described as equivalent to the loss of one of the 47 prefectures. It was Japan's first population decline as shown in the national census — which provides the nation's basic data in various fields — since the survey began in 1920.

The figure makes Japan's population the 10th largest in the world, and it is reportedly the only one among the world's 20 most populous nations to have posted a decline over the 2010-2015 period.