Tokyo: The latest government data reveals that Japan’s population decline is an ongoing concern, affecting all 47 of its prefectures for the first time. The significant drop in population highlights the challenges posed by the country’s ageing and shrinking demographic.
Amidst the decline in the native population, there has been a noteworthy increase in the number of foreign residents in Japan. As per the same government data released, the total number of foreign residents has reached nearly 3 million, a new record high. This surge in foreign residents showcases the growing role of non-Japanese individuals in the nation.
The total population of Japan now stands at 125.41 million, down by just over half a million people from the previous year. However, there has been a remarkable 10.7% increase in foreign residents with registered addresses in Japan. This rise in Japan’s foreign population marks the largest year-on-year jump since the government began taking statistics in 2013. Foreign residents currently make up approximately 2.4% of Japan’s population, according to the ministry.
The declining population and the rapid ageing of its citizens present complex socio-economic issues for Japan. With the workforce shrinking and the number of elderly individuals rising, the country faces challenges in sustaining economic growth and providing sufficient social welfare services.
In response to these demographic challenges, Japan has been making efforts to attract and welcome foreign workers and residents. The increase in foreign residents reflects the country’s commitment to encouraging immigration and addressing labour shortages in various sectors. Non-Japanese individuals are contributing significantly to sectors such as healthcare, technology, education, and hospitality, playing a crucial role in supporting the economy and society.
As Japan’s native population continues to decrease, the nation’s dependence on foreign residents is predicted to increase even more. These individuals play a vital role in not only boosting the economy but also adding diversity, fresh perspectives, and cultural enrichment to the country.
While this trend has positive aspects, Japan must also address issues related to integration, language barriers, and cultural differences to ensure a harmonious and inclusive society.
The government’s efforts to accommodate foreign residents and address demographic challenges demonstrate its commitment to finding innovative solutions for a sustainable future. As Japan continues to evolve in response to changing population dynamics, the inclusion and empowerment of non-Japanese individuals will be pivotal in shaping the country’s future trajectory.
After peaking in 2008, Japan’s population has been steadily declining due to a decreasing birth rate. The country experienced a record low of 771,801 births last year. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has prioritised tackling declining births as a key policy goal. He has pledged significant funding for a new child care package, including child birth and rearing allowances and increased subsidies for higher education.
Kishida’s Cabinet also recently approved a plan to expand the scope of job categories allowed for foreign workers, signalling a major shift in Japan’s traditionally closed-door immigration policy as it grapples with a shrinking population.
Experts, however, point out that the proposed low-birth measures primarily provide additional funding for existing initiatives and do not address underlying problems. They emphasise that Japan’s conservative government needs to take further steps to raise salaries, improve working conditions, and create a more inclusive society for minorities and those with non-Japanese backgrounds to attract foreign workers to Japan and encourage them to stay.