Demographics of Japan (Ofer Abarbanel online library)

 

Demographics of Japan
Population 126,317,000[1] (2019) (11th)

The demographic features of the population of Japan include population density, ethnicity, education level, health of the populace, economic status, religious affiliations and other aspects regarding the population.

History

For information on historical demographic data in Japan prior to 1945 refer to:

  • Demographic history of Japan before the Meiji Restoration
  • Demography of Imperial Japan

Population

Historical population

Historical population
Year Pop. ±%
1910 50,984,840
1915 54,935,755 +7.7%
1920 55,963,053 +1.9%
1925 59,736,822 +6.7%
1930 64,450,005 +7.9%
1935 69,254,148 +7.5%
1940 73,075,071 +5.5%
1945 71,998,104 −1.5%
1950 83,199,637 +15.6%
1955 89,275,529 +7.3%
1960 93,418,501 +4.6%
1965 98,274,961 +5.2%
1970 103,720,060 +5.5%
1975 111,939,643 +7.9%
1980 117,060,396 +4.6%
1985 121,048,923 +3.4%
1990 123,611,167 +2.1%
1995 125,570,246 +1.6%
2000 126,925,843 +1.1%
2005 127,767,994 +0.7%
2010 128,057,352 +0.2%
2015 127,094,745 −0.8%
2019 126,317,000 −0.6%
2019 estimate[1]

According to the World Bank, the population of Japan as of 2018 is at 126.5 million, including foreign residents.[3] The population of only Japanese nationals was 124.8 million in January 2019.[4]

Japan was the world’s tenth-most populous country as of 2018. Total population had declined by 0.8 percent from the time of the census five years previously, the first time it had declined since the 1945 census.[5]

Since 2010, Japan has experienced net population loss due to falling birth rates and minimal immigration, despite having one of the highest life expectancies in the world, at 85.00 years as of 2016 (it stood at 81.25 as of 2006).[6] Using the annual estimate for October of each year, the population peaked in 2008 at 128,083,960 and had fallen 285,256 by October 2011.[7]

Based on 2012 data from the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research, Japan’s population will keep declining by about one million people every year in the coming decades, which would leave it with a population of around 70 million by 2060 and 42 million by early 22nd century if the current projections do not change.[8] More than 40% of the population is expected to be over the age of 65 in 2060.[9] In 2012 the population had for six consecutive years declined by 212,000, the largest drop on record since 1947 and also reflecting a record low of 1.03 million births.[10] In 2014 a new record of population decrease – 268,000 people – occurred.[11] As of 2013 more than 20 percent of the population of Japan were aged 65 and over.[12]

The world population-ranking of Japan dropped from 7th to 8th in 1990, to 9th in 1998, and to 10th in the early 21st century. In 2015 it dropped further to 11th place, according both to the UN[citation needed] and to the PRB.[citation needed] Over the period of 2010 to 2015, the population shrank by almost a million.[13]

Census

Japan collects census information every five years. The exercise is conducted by the Statistics Bureau of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. This contributed a lot to the history of Japan.

Population density

Japan’s population density was 336 people per square kilometer as of 2014 (874 people per square mile) according to World Development Indicators. It ranks 35th in a list of countries by population density, ranking directly above Philippines (347 per km2) and directly below Curacao (359 per km2). Between 1955 and 1989, land prices in the six largest cities increased 15,000% (+12% a year). Urban land prices generally increased 40% from 1980 to 1987; in the six largest cities, the price of land doubled over that period. For many families, this trend put housing in central cities out of reach.[14]

The result was lengthy commutes for many workers in the big cities, especially in Tokyo area where daily commutes of two hours each way are common.[14] In 1991, as the bubble economy started to collapse, land prices began a steep decline, and within a few years fell 60% below their peak.[15] After a decade of declining land prices, residents began moving back into central city areas (especially Tokyo’s 23 wards), as evidenced by 2005 census figures. Despite nearly 70% of Japan being covered by forests,[16] parks in many major cities—especially Tokyo and Osaka—are smaller and scarcer than in major West European or North American cities. As of 2014, parkland per inhabitant in Tokyo is 5.78 square meters,[17] which is roughly half of the 11.5 square meters of Madrid.[18]

National and regional governments devote resources to making regional cities and rural areas more attractive by developing transportation networks, social services, industry, and educational institutions in attempts to decentralize settlement and improve the quality of life. Nevertheless, major cities, especially Tokyo, Yokohama, and Fukuoka, and to a lesser extent Kyoto, Osaka and Nagoya, remain attractive to young people seeking education and jobs.[14]

Urban distribution

Japan has a high population concentration in urban areas on the plains since 75% of Japan’s land area is made up of mountains,[20] and also Japan has a forest cover rate of 68.5% (the only other developed countries with such a high forest cover percentage are Finland and Sweden).[16] The 2010 census shows 90.7% of the total Japanese population live in cities.[21]

Japan is an urban society with about only 5% of the labor force working in agriculture. Many farmers supplement their income with part-time jobs in nearby towns and cities. About 80 million of the urban population is heavily concentrated on the Pacific shore of Honshu.[22]

Metropolitan Tokyo-Yokohama, with its population of 35 million residents, is the world’s most populous city. Japan faces the same problems that confront urban industrialized societies throughout the world: overcrowded cities and congested highways.

Aging of Japan

Japan’s population is aging faster than that of any other nation.[23] The population of those 65 years or older roughly doubled in 24 years, from 7.1% of the population in 1970 to 14.1% in 1994. The same increase took 61 years in Italy, 85 years in Sweden, and 115 years in France.[24] In 2014, 26% of Japan’s population was estimated to be 65 years or older,[25] and the Health and Welfare Ministry has estimated that over-65s will account for 40% of the population by 2060.[26] The demographic shift in Japan’s age profile has triggered concerns about the nation’s economic future and the viability of its welfare state.[27]

 

Overview of the changing age distribution 1935–2010[25]
Year Total population
(census; in thousands)
Population by age (%)  
0–14 15–64 65+  
1935 69,254 36.9 58.5 4.7  
1940 73,075 36.1 59.2 5.7  
1945 71,998 36.8 58.1 5.1  
1950 84,115 35.4 59.6 4.9  
1955 90,077 33.4 61.2 5.3  
1960 94,302 30.2 64.1 5.7  
1965 99,209 25.7 68.0 6.3  
1970 104,665 24.0 68.9 7.1  
1975 111,940 24.3 67.7 7.9  
1980 117,060 23.5 67.3 9.1  
1985 121,049 21.5 68.2 10.3  
1990 123,611 18.2 69.5 12.0  
1995 125,570 15.9 69.4 14.5  
2000 126,962 14.6 67.9 17.3  
2005 127,768 13.7 65.8 20.1  
2010 128,058 13.2 63.7 23.1  
2015 127,095 12.6 60.7 26.6  
2017[28] 126,714 12.3 59.9 27.8  

Demographic statistics from the CIA World Factbook

Population

The population consisted of 47,062,743 households, with 78.7% in urban areas (July 2000). High population density; 329.5 people per square kilometer for total area; 1,523 persons per square kilometer for habitable land. More than 50% of the population lives on 2% of the land. (July 1993).[14] According to research in 2018, the population to land density ratio has gradually increased, now at 127 million per 337 km2. Compared to the findings of July 1993 as well as in July 2000, the population density has greatly increased, from 50% of the population living on 2% of the land to 77%. However, as the years have progressed since the last recordings of the population, Japan’s population has decreased, raising concern about the future of Japan. There are many causes, such as the declining birthrates, as well as the ratio of men to women since the last measurements from the years of 2006 and 2010. According to the Japanese Health Ministry, the population is estimated to drop from its current state of 126.26 million to 86.74 million by the year 2060.[30]

Sex ratio

(2006 est.)

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female

under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female

15–64 years: 1.01 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.73 male(s)/female

total population: 0.95 male(s)/female

(2010 est.)

at birth: 1.056 male(s)/female

under 15 years: 1.06 male(s)/female

15-64 years: 1.02 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.74 male(s)/female

total population: 0.95 male(s)/female

HIV/AIDS

Ethnic groups

Naturalized Japanese citizens and native-born Japanese nationals with multi-ethnic background are all considered to be Japanese in the population census of Japan.[32]

Marital status

Over 15: Never married Male 61.8%, Female 58.2%.

16–24: Never married Male 31.8%, Female 23.7%.

25–29: Never married Male 69.3%, Female 54.0%.

30–34: Never married Male 42.9%, Female 26.6% (July 2000).

Vital statistics

Live births, birth and death rates and overall fertility rate in Japan from 1899 to present.[33][34][35]

Average population (x 1000) Live births Deaths Natural change Crude birth rate (per 1000) Crude death rate (per 1000) Natural change (per 1000) Total fertility rate[25][36] Infant mortality rate (per 1000 births) Life expectancy[25] (males) Life expectancy (females)
1899 1 386 981 932 087 454 894 32.0 21.5 10.5 6.33 153.8
1900 43 847 1 420 534 910 744 509 790 32.4 20.8 11.6 6.25 155.0
1901 44 359 1 501 591 925 810 575 781 33.9 20.9 13.0 6.21 149.9
1902 44 964 1 510 853 959 126 551 709 33.6 21.3 12.3 6.16 154.0
1903 45 546 1 489 816 931 008 558 808 32.0 20.0 13.5 6.09 152.4
1904 46 135 1 440 371 955 400 484 971 30.6 21.2 10.7 6.04 151.9
1905 46 620 1 452 770 1 004 661 448 109 30.6 21.9 10.1 5.97 151.7
1906 47 038 1 394 295 955 256 439 039 29.0 20.0 10.6 5.69 153.6
1907 47 416 1 614 472 1 016 798 597 674 33.2 21.0 13.9 5.72 151.3
1908 47 965 1 662 815 1 029 447 633 368 33.7 20.9 14.5 5.79 158.0
1909 48 554 1 693 850 1 091 264 602 586 33.9 21.9 13.8 5.71 167.3
1910 49 184 1 712 857 1 064 234 648 623 33.9 21.1 14.5 5.63 161.2
1911 49 852 1 747 803 1 043 906 703 897 34.1 20.4 15.5 5.19 158.4
1912 50 577 1 737 674 1 037 016 700 658 33.4 20.0 15.3 5.08 154.2
1913 51 305 1 757 441 1 027 257 730 184 33.3 19.5 15.6 5.07 152.1
1914 52 039 1 808 402 1 101 815 706 587 33.8 20.6 14.9 5.14 158.5
1915 52 752 1 799 326 1 093 793 705 533 33.2 20.2 14.4 4.91 160.4
1916 53 496 1 804 822 1 187 832 616 990 32.9 21.6 12.7 4.98 170.3
1917 54 134 1 812 413 1 199 669 612 744 32.7 21.6 12.5 4.95 173.2
1918 54 739 1 791 992 1 493 162 298 830 32.2 26.7 6.4 4.83 188.6
1919 55 033 1 778 685 1 281 965 496 720 31.6 22.8 10.2 4.77 170.5
1920 55 963 2 025 564 1 422 096 603 468 36.2 25.4 12.0 6.45 165.7
1921 56 666 1 990 876 1 288 570 702 306 35.1 22.7 12.4 6.38 168.3
1922 57 390 1 969 314 1 286 941 682 373 34.3 22.4 11.9 5.12 166.4
1923 58 119 2 043 297 1 332 485 710 812 35.2 22.9 12.2 5.26 163.4
1924 58 876 1 998 520 1 254 946 743 574 33.9 21.3 12.6 5.07 156.2
1925 59 737 2 086 091 1 210 706 875 395 34.9 20.3 14.5 5.10 142.4
1926 60 741 2 104 405 1 160 734 943 671 34.6 19.1 15.5 5.19 137.5
1927 61 659 2 060 737 1 214 323 846 414 33.4 19.7 13.7 5 141.6
1928 62 595 2 135 852 1 236 711 899 141 34.1 19.8 14.4 5.09 136.7
1929 63 461 2 077 026 1 261 228 815 798 32.7 19.9 12.9 4.87 142.1
1930 64 450 2 085 101 1 170 867 914 234 32.4 18.2 14.2 4.70 124.1
1931 65 457 2 102 784 1 240 891 861 893 32.1 19.0 13.2 4.76 131.5
1932 65 800 2 182 742 1 175 344 1 007 398 32.9 17.7 15.2 4.86 117.5
1933 66 790 2 121 253 1 193 987 927 266 31.5 17.7 13.8 4.63 121.3
1934 67 680 2 043 783 1 234 684 809 099 29.9 18.1 11.9 4.39 124.8
1935 68 662 2 190 704 1 161 936 1 028 768 31.6 16.8 14.9 4.59 106.7
1936 69 590 2 101 969 1 230 278 871 691 30.0 17.5 12.4 4.34 116.7 46.92 49.63
1937 70 360 2 180 734 1 207 899 972 835 30.9 17.1 13.7 4.45 105.8
1938 70 590 1 928 321 1 259 805 668 516 27.2 17.7 9.4 3.88 114.4
1939 70 930 1 901 573 1 268 760 632 813 26.6 17.8 8.8 3.8 106.2
1940 71 540 2 115 867 1 186 595 929 272 29.4 16.4 12.9 4.11 90.0
1941 72 750 2 277 283 1 149 559 1 127 724 31.1 15.7 15.4 3.8 84.1
1942 73 450 2 233 660 1 166 630 1 067 030 30.3 15.8 14.4 4.18 85.5
1943 73 980 2 253 535 1 213 811 1 039 724 30.3 16.3 13.9 4.11 86.6
1944 73 865 2 149 843 1 279 639 870 204 29.2 17.4 11.8 3.8
1945 72 410 1 685 583 2 113 798 -428 215 23.2 29.2 -5.9 3.25
1946 75 300 1 905 809 1 326 592 579 217 25.3 17.6 7.7 4.46
1947 78 025 2 678 792 1 138 238 1 540 554 34.3 14.6 19.7 4.54 76.7 50.06 53.96
1948 79 500 2 681 624 950 610 1 731 014 33.7 12.0 21.8 4.40 61.7 55.6 59.4
1949 81 300 2 696 638 945 444 1 751 194 33.2 11.6 21.5 4.32 62.5 56.2 59.8
1950 82 900 2 337 507 904 876 1 432 631 28.2 10.9 17.3 3.65 60.1 58.0 61.5
1951 84 235 2 137 689 838 998 1 298 691 25.4 10.0 15.4 3.26 57.5 59.57 62.97
1952 85 503 2 005 162 765 068 1 240 094 23.5 8.9 14.5 2.98 49.4 61.9 65.5
1953 86 695 1 868 040 772 547 1 095 493 21.5 8.9 12.6 2.69 48.9 61.9 65.7
1954 87 976 1 769 580 721 491 1 048 089 20.1 8.2 11.9 2.48 44.6 63.41 67.69
1955 89 020 1 730 692 693 523 1 037 169 19.4 7.8 11.7 2.37 39.8 63.60 67.75
1956 89 953 1 665 278 724 460 940 818 18.5 8.1 10.5 2.22 40.6 63.59 67.54
1957 90 734 1 566 713 752 445 814 268 17.3 8.3 9.0 2.04 40.0 63.24 67.60
1958 91 546 1 653 469 684 189 969 280 18.1 7.5 10.6 2.11 34.5 64.98 69.61
1959 92 434 1 626 088 689 959 936 129 17.6 7.5 10.1 2.04 33.7 65.21 69.88
1960 94 094 1 606 041 706 599 899 442 17.3 7.6 9.7 2.00 30.7 65.32 70.19
1961 94 943 1 589 372 695 644 893 728 17.0 7.4 9.6 1.96 28.6 66.03 70.79
1962 95 832 1 618 616 710 265 908 351 17.1 7.5 9.6 1.98 26.4 66.23 71.16
1963 96 812 1 659 521 670 770 988 751 17.4 7.0 10.4 2.00 23.2 67.21 72.34
1964 97 826 1 716 761 673 067 1 043 694 17.8 6.9 10.8 2.05 20.4 67.67 72.87
1965 98 883 1 823 697 700 438 1 123 259 18.7 7.1 11.5 2.14 18.5 67.74 72.92
1966 99 790 1 360 974 670 342 690 632 13.8 6.8 7.1 1.58 19.3 68.35 73.61
1967 100 725 1 935 647 675 006 1 260 641 19.4 6.7 12.7 2.23 14.9 68.91 74.15
1968 102 061 1 871 839 686 555 1 185 284 18.5 6.8 11.8 2.13 15.3 69.05 74.30
1969 103 172 1 889 815 693 787 1 196 028 18.5 6.8 11.7 2.13 14.2 69.18 74.67
1970 104 345 1 934 239 712 962 1 221 277 18.7 6.9 11.9 2.13 13.1 69.31 74.66
1971 105 697 2 000 973 684 521 1 316 452 19.1 6.5 12.6 2.16 12.4 70.17 75.58
1972 107 188 2 038 682 683 751 1 354 931 19.2 6.4 12.8 2.14 11.7 70.50 75.94
1973 108 709 2 091 983 709 416 1 382 567 19.2 6.5 12.7 2.14 11.3 70.70 76.02
1974 110 162 2 029 989 710 510 1 319 479 18.4 6.4 12.0 2.05 10.8 71.16 76.31
1975 111 573 1 901 440 702 275 1 199 165 17.0 6.3 10.7 1.91 10.0 71.73 76.89
1976 112 775 1 832 617 703 270 1 129 347 16.3 6.2 10.0 1.85 9.3 72.15 77.35
1977 113 872 1 755 100 690 074 1 065 026 15.4 6.1 9.4 1.80 8.9 72.69 77.95
1978 114 913 1 708 643 695 821 1 012 822 14.9 6.1 8.8 1.79 8.4 72.97 78.33
1979 115 890 1 642 580 689 664 952 916 14.2 6.0 8.2 1.77 7.9 73.46 78.89
1980 116 807 1 576 889 722 801 854 088 13.5 6.2 7.3 1.75 7.5 73.35 78.76
1981 117 661 1 529 455 720 262 809 193 13.0 6.1 6.9 1.74 7.1 73.79 79.13
1982 118 480 1 515 392 711 883 803 509 12.8 6.0 6.8 1.77 6.6 74.22 79.66
1983 119 307 1 508 687 740 038 768 649 12.6 6.2 6.4 1.80 6.2 74.20 79.78
1984 120 083 1 489 780 740 247 749 533 12.4 6.2 6.2 1.81 6.0 74.54 80.18
1985 120 837 1 431 577 752 283 679 294 11.8 6.2 5.6 1.76 5.5 74.78 80.48
1986 121 482 1 382 946 750 620 632 326 11.4 6.2 5.2 1.72 5.2 75.23 80.93
1987 122 069 1 346 658 751 172 595 486 11.0 6.2 4.9 1.69 5.0 75.61 81.39
1988 122 578 1 314 006 793 014 520 992 10.7 6.5 4.3 1.66 4.8 75.54 81.30
1989 123 069 1 246 802 788 594 458 208 10.1 6.4 3.7 1.57 4.6 75.91 81.77
1990 123 478 1 221 585 820 305 401 280 10.0 6.7 3.2 1.54 4.6 75.92 81.90
1991 123 964 1 223 245 829 797 393 448 9.9 6.7 3.2 1.53 4.4 76.11 82.11
1992 124 425 1 208 989 856 643 352 346 9.8 6.9 2.9 1.50 4.5 76.09 82.22
1993 124 829 1 188 282 878 532 309 750 9.6 7.1 2.5 1.46 4.3 76.25 82.51
1994 125 178 1 238 328 875 933 362 395 10.0 7.1 2.9 1.50 4.2 76.57 82.98
1995 125 472 1 187 064 922 139 264 925 9.6 7.4 2.2 1.42 4.3 76.38 82.85
1996 125 757 1 206 555 896 211 310 344 9.7 7.2 2.5 1.43 3.8 77.01 83.59
1997 126 057 1 191 665 913 402 278 263 9.5 7.3 2.2 1.39 3.7 77.19 83.82
1998 126 400 1 203 147 936 484 266 663 9.6 7.5 2.0 1.38 3.6 77.16 84.01
1999 126 631 1 177 669 982 031 195 638 9.4 7.8 1.6 1.34 3.4 77.10 83.99
2000 126 843 1 190 547 961 653 228 894 9.5 7.7 1.8 1.36 3.2 77.72 84.60
2001 127 130 1 170 662 970 331 200 331 9.3 7.7 1.6 1.33 3.1 78.07 84.93
2002 127 386 1 153 855 982 379 171 476 9.2 7.8 1.4 1.32 3.0 78.32 85.23
2003 127 670 1 123 610 1 014 951 108 659 8.9 8.0 0.9 1.29 3.0 78.36 85.33
2004 127 680 1 110 721 1 028 602 82 119 8.8 8.2 0.7 1.29 2.8 78.64 85.59
2005 127 760 1 062 530 1 083 796 -21 266 8.4 8.6 -0.2 1.26 2.8 78.56 85.52
2006 127 710 1 092 674 1 084 450 8 224 8.7 8.6 0.1 1.32 2.6 79.00 85.81
2007 127 750 1 089 818 1 108 334 -18 516 8.6 8.8 -0.1 1.34 2.6 79.19 85.99
2008 127 680 1 091 156 1 142 407 -51 251 8.7 9.1 -0.4 1.37 2.6 79.29 86.05
2009 127 550 1 070 035 1 141 865 -71 830 8.5 9.1 -0.6 1.37 2.4 79.59 86.44
2010 127 430 1 071 304 1 197 012 -125 708 8.5 9.5 -1.0 1.39[37] 2.3 79.64 86.39
2011 127 770 1 050 806 1 253 066 -202 260 8.3 9.9 -1.6 1.39 2.3 79.44 85.90
2012 127 400 1 037 231 1 256 359 -219 128 8.2 10.0 -1.7 1.41 2.2 79.93 86.37
2013 127 150 1 029 816 1 268 436 -238 620 8.2 10.1 -1.9 1.43 2.1 80.19 86.56
2014 127 083 1 003 539 1 273 004 -269 465 8.0 10.1 -2.1[11] 1.42 80.48 86.77
2015 126 900 1 005 677 1 290 444 -284 767 8.0 10.3 -2.3 1.45 1.9 80.75 86.98
2016 126 585 976 978 1 307 748 –330 770 7.8 10.5 -2.6 1.44 80.98 87.14
2017 126 490 946 060 1 340 433 –394 373 7.6 10.8 -3.2 1.43 1.9 81.09 87.26
2018 p 126 200 918 397 1 362 482 –444 085 7.4 11.0 -3.6 1.42
2019 p 864 000 1 376 000 –512 000 7.0 11.1 -4.1 1.37

Total fertility rate

Japan’s total fertility rate (TFR) in 2012 was estimated at 1.41 children per woman, increasing slightly from 1.32 in the 2001–05 period. In 2012, the highest TFR was 1.90, in Okinawa, and the lowest was 1.09, in Tokyo. TFR by prefecture for 2000–05, as well as future estimates, have been released.[38]:page 30

Life expectancy

1865-1949

Years 1865 1870 1875 1880 1885 1890 1895 1900 1905 1910 1915 1920 1922 1927 1935 1945 1947 1948 1949 1950[39]
Life expectancy in Japan 36.4 36.6 36.8 37.0 37.3 37.7 38.1 38.6 39.2 40.0 40.9 42.0 42.6 45.7 48.2 30.5 51.7 56.8 57.7 59.2

1950-2015

Period Life expectancy in
Years
Period Life expectancy in
Years
1950–1955 62.8 1985–1990 78.5
1955–1960 66.4 1990–1995 79.4
1960–1965 69.2 1995–2000 80.5
1965–1970 71.4 2000–2005 81.8
1970–1975 73.3 2005–2010 82.7
1975–1980 75.4 2010–2015 83.3
1980–1985 77.0 2015-2020 84.4

Current natural population growth

[41]

  • Births from January – August 2018 = 634,447
  • Births from January – August 2019 = 597,171
  • Deaths from January – August 2018 = 915,813
  • Deaths from January – August 2019 = 925,241
  • Natural growth from January – August 2018 = -281,366
  • Natural growth from January – August 2019 = -328,070

Migration

Internal migration

Between 6 million and 7 million people moved their residences each year during the 1980s. About 50% of these moves were within the same prefecture; the others were relocations from one prefecture to another. During Japan’s economic development in the twentieth century, and especially during the 1950s and 1960s, migration was characterized by urbanization as people from rural areas in increasing numbers moved to the larger metropolitan areas in search of better jobs and education. Out-migration from rural prefectures continued in the late 1980s, but more slowly than in previous decades.[14]

In the 1980s, government policy provided support for new urban development away from the large cities, particularly Tokyo, and assisted regional cities to attract young people to live and work there. Regional cities offered familiarity to those from nearby areas, lower costs of living, shorter commutes, and, in general, a more relaxed lifestyle than could be had in larger cities. Young people continued to move to large cities, however, to attend universities and find work, but some returned to regional cities (a pattern known as U-turn) or to their prefecture of origin (a pattern referred to as “J-turn”).[14]

Government statistics show that in the 1980s significant numbers of people left the largest central cities (Tokyo and Osaka) to move to suburbs within their metropolitan areas. In 1988 more than 500,000 people left Tokyo, which experienced a net loss through migration of nearly 73,000 for the year. Osaka had a net loss of nearly 36,000 in the same year.[14]

With a decreasing total population, internal migration results in only 8 prefectures showing an increase in population. These are Okinawa(2.9%), Tokyo(2.7%), Aichi(1.0%), Saitama(1.0%), Kanagawa(0.9%), Fukuoka(0.6%), Shiga(0.2%), and Chiba(0.1%).[42]

Emigration

About 663,300 Japanese were living abroad, approximately 75,000 of whom had permanent foreign residency, more than six times the number who had that status in 1975. More than 200,000 Japanese went abroad in 1990 for extended periods of study, research, or business assignments. As the government and private corporations have stressed internationalization, greater numbers of individuals have been directly affected, decreasing Japan’s historical insularity. By the late 1980s, these problems, particularly the bullying of returnee children in schools, had become a major public issue both in Japan and in Japanese communities abroad.[14]

Cities with significant populations of Japanese nationals

  • Los Angeles, United States: 68,689
  • Bangkok, Thailand: 48,700
  • Shanghai, China: 46,115
  • New York, United States: 44,636
  • Singapore: 36,963
  • London, United Kingdom: 36,721
  • Sydney, Australia: 30,448
  • Vancouver, Canada: 26,999
  • Hong Kong: 26,869
  • San Francisco, United States: 18,777
  • Toronto, Canada: 13,410

Note: The above data shows the number of Japanese nationals living overseas. It was published by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan and relates to 2015.[43]

Immigration

According to the Japanese immigration centre,[32] the number of foreign residents in Japan has steadily increased, and the number of foreign residents (excluding a small number of illegal immigrants and short-term visitors, such as foreign nationals staying less than 90 days in Japan),[44] exceeded 2.2 million people in 2008.[32]

In 2010, the number of foreigners in Japan was 2,134,151. This includes 209,373 Filipinos, many of whom are married to Japanese nationals,[45] 210,032 Brazilians, the majority possessing some degree of Japanese ancestry,[45] 687,156 Chinese and 565,989 Koreans. Chinese, Filipinos, Koreans, and Brazilians account for about 69.5% of foreign residents in Japan.[46] In 2019 the number of foreigners in Japan was 2,382,822[47]

The current issue of the shrinking workforce in Japan alongside its aging population has resulted in a recent need to attract foreign labour to the country. Reforms which took effect in 2015 relax visa requirements for “Highly Skilled Foreign Professionals” and create a new type of residence status with an unlimited period of stay.

The number of naturalizations peaked in 2008 at 16,000, declining to over 9,000 in the most recent year for which data are available.[48] Most of the decline is accounted for by a steep reduction in the number of Japan-born Koreans taking Japanese citizenship. Historically the bulk of those taking Japanese citizenship have not been foreign-born immigrants but rather Japanese-born descendants of Koreans and Taiwanese who lost their citizenship in the Japanese Empire in 1947 as part of the American Occupation policy for Japan.

Japanese statistical authorities do not collect information on ethnicity, only nationality. As a result, both native and naturalized Japanese citizens are counted in a single group.[32] Japanese society is linguistically, ethnically and culturally homogeneous.[49][50] It is composed of 98.1% ethnic Japanese.[51] Although official statistics show near homogeneity, one analysis describe the population as “multi-ethnic”, although unofficial statistics still show that ethnic minorities are small compared with many other countries.[52][need quotation to verify] There is an increase of foreign residents, but they are not Japanese nationals and most temporarily live in Japan for a few months or years.

In 2015 the Japanese government under prime minister Shinzō Abe announced that its policy of restricting immigration would not change despite the current declining population.[53][54] In the long term, its plan is to improve technology to address the labour shortage, while increasing Japanese fertility rates from the current level of 1.4 to 1.8, eventually stabilizing the population at approximately 100 million. [55][56]

Languages

The Japanese society of Yamato people is linguistically homogeneous with small populations of Koreans (0.9 million), Chinese/Taiwanese (0.65 million), Filipino (306,000 some being Japanese Filipino; children of Japanese and Filipino parentage).[57] Brazilians (300,000, many of whom are ethnically Japanese) as well as Peruvians and Argentineans of both Latin American and Japanese descent. Japan has indigenous minority groups such as the Ainu and Ryukyuans, who generally speak Japanese.

Japanese citizenship is conferred jus sanguinis, and monolingual Japanese-speaking minorities often reside in Japan for generations under permanent residency status without acquiring citizenship in their country of birth, although legally they are allowed to do so. This is because Japanese law does not recognise dual citizenship after the age of adulthood, and so people becoming naturalised Japanese citizens must relinquish citizenship of other countries when they reach the age of 20. Some ethnic Koreans and Chinese and their descendants (who may speak only Japanese and may never have even visited the country whose nationality they hold) do not wish to abandon this other citizenship.[citation needed]

In addition, people taking Japanese citizenship must take a name using the Japanese character sets hiragana, katakana, and/or kanji. Names using Western alphabet, Korean alphabet, Arabic characters, etc. are not acceptable as legal names. Chinese characters are usually legally acceptable as nearly all Chinese characters are recognized as valid by the Japanese government. Transliterations of non-Japanese names using katakana (e.g. スミス ”Sumisu” for “Smith”) are also legally acceptable.

However, some naturalizing foreigners feel that becoming a Japanese citizen should mean that they have a Japanese name and that they should abandon their foreign name, and some foreign residents do not wish to do this—although most Special Permanent Resident Koreans and Chinese already use Japanese names. Nonetheless, some 10,000 Zainichi Koreans naturalize every year. Approximately 98.6% of the population are Japanese citizens, and 99% of the population speak Japanese as their first language. Non-ethnic Japanese in the past, and to an extent in the present, also live in small numbers in the Japanese archipelago.[52]

Society

Lifestyle

Japanese people enjoy a high standard of living, and nearly 90% of the population consider themselves part of the middle class.[14] However, many studies on happiness and satisfaction with life tend to find that Japanese people average relatively low levels of life satisfaction and happiness when compared with most of the highly developed world; the levels have remained consistent if not declining slightly over the last half century.[58][59][60][61] Japanese have been surveyed to be relatively lacking in financial satisfaction.[62]

The suicide rates per 100,000 in Japan in 2009 were 29.2 for men and 10.5 for women.[63] In 2010, 32,000 Japanese committed suicide, which translates to an average of 88 Japanese suicides a day in 2010.[64]

Minorities

Discrimination against ethnic minorities

Three native Japanese minority groups can be identified. The largest are the hisabetsu buraku or “discriminated communities”, also known as the burakumin. These descendants of premodern outcast hereditary occupational groups, such as butchers, leatherworkers, funeral directors, and certain entertainers, may be considered a Japanese analog of India’s Dalits. Discrimination against these occupational groups arose historically because of Buddhist prohibitions against killing and Shinto notions of pollution, as well as governmental attempts at social control.[14]

During the Edo period, such people were required to live in special buraku and, like the rest of the population, were bound by sumptuary laws based on the inheritance of social class. The Meiji government abolished most derogatory names applied to these discriminated communities in 1871, but the new laws had little effect on the social discrimination faced by the former outcasts and their descendants. The laws, however, did eliminate the economic monopoly they had over certain occupations.[14] The buraku continued to be treated as social outcasts and some casual interactions with the majority caste were perceived taboo until the era after World War II.

Estimates of their number range from 2 to 4 million (about 2% to 3% of the national population). Although members of these discriminated communities are physically indistinguishable from other Japanese, they often live in urban ghettoes or in the traditional special hamlets in rural areas, and membership can be surmised from the location of the family home, occupation, dialect, or mannerisms. Checks on family background designed to ferret out buraku were commonly performed as part of marriage arrangements and employment applications,[14] but have been illegal since 1985 in Osaka.

Past and current discrimination has resulted in lower educational attainment and socioeconomic status among hisabetsu buraku than among the majority of Japanese. Movements with objectives ranging from “liberation” to encouraging integration have tried to change this situation,[14] with some success. Nadamoto Masahisa of the Buraku History Institute estimates that as of 1998, between 60 and 80% of burakumin marry a non-burakumin.[65]

Ryukyuans

One of the largest minority groups among Japanese citizens is the Ryukyuan people.[66] They are primarily distinguished from their use of several distinct Ryukyuan languages though use of Ryukyuan is dying out. The Ryukyuan people and language originated in the Ryukyu Islands, which are in Okinawa prefecture.

Ainu

The third largest minority group among Japanese citizens is the Ainu, whose language is an isolate. Historically, the Ainu were an indigenous hunting and gathering population who occupied most of northern Honshū as late as the Nara period (A.D. 710–94). As Japanese settlement expanded, the Ainu were pushed northward,[14] by the Tokugawa shogunate, the Ainu were pushed into the island of Hokkaido.[67]

Characterized as remnants of a primitive circumpolar culture, the fewer than 20,000 Ainu in 1990 were considered racially distinct and thus not fully Japanese. Disease and a low birth rate had severely diminished their numbers over the past two centuries, and intermarriage had brought about an almost completely mixed population.[14]

Although no longer in daily use, the Ainu language is preserved in epics, songs, and stories transmitted orally over succeeding generations. Distinctive rhythmic music and dances and some Ainu festivals and crafts are preserved, but mainly in order to take advantage of tourism.[14]

Hāfu

Hāfu is a term used for people who are biracial and ethnically half Japanese. Of the 1 million children born in Japan in 2013, 2.2% had one or more non-Japanese parent.[70] According to the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, one in forty-nine babies born in Japan today are born into families with one non-Japanese parent.[68] Most intermarriages in Japan are between Japanese men and women from other Asian countries, including China, the Philippines and South Korea.[69] Southeast Asia too, also has significant populations of people with half-Japanese ancestry, particularly in the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand.

In the 1940s, biracial Japanese children (Ainoko), specifically Amerasian children, encountered social problems such as poverty, perception of impurity and discrimination due to negative treatment in Japan.[70] In the 21st century, discrimination against hāfu occurs based on how different their identity, behavior and appearance is from a typical Japanese person.

Foreign residents

In 2005, there were 1,555,505 foreign residents in Japan, representing 1.22% of the Japanese population.[71] Foreign Army personnel, of which there were up to 430,000 from the SCAP (post-occupation, United States Forces Japan) and 40,000 BCOF in the immediate post-war years, have not been at any time included in Japanese foreign resident statistics.[72] Most foreign residents in Japan come from Brazil or from other Asian countries, particularly from China, South Korea, the Philippines, Vietnam and Nepal.[73][74] 106,000 Westerners permanently live in Japan.[75]

A number of long-term resident Koreans in Japan today retain familial links with the descendants of Koreans,[76] that either immigrated voluntarily or were forcibly relocated during the Japanese Occupation of the Korea. Within this group, a number hold Special Permanent Resident status, granted under the terms of the Normalisation Treaty (22. June 1965) between South Korea and Japan.[77] In many cases special residents, despite being born in Japan and speaking Japanese, have chosen not to take advantage of the mostly automatic granting of citizenship to special resident applicants.[78]

Beginning in 1947 the Japanese government started to repatriate Korean nationals, who had nominally been granted Japanese citizenship during the years of military occupation. When the Treaty of San Francisco came into force many ethnic Koreans lost their Japanese citizenship from April 28, 1952 and with it the right to welfare grants, to hold a government job of any kind or to attend Japanese schools.[72] In the following year the government contrived, with the help of the Red Cross, a scheme to “repatriate” Korean residents, who mainly were from the Southern Provinces, to their “home” of North Korea.[79] Between 1959 and 1984 93,430 people used this route. 6,737 were Japanese or Chinese dependents. Most of these departures – 78,276 – occurred before 1962.[80]

All non-Japanese without special residential status (people whose residential roots go back to before WWII) are required by law to register with the government and carry alien registration cards. From the early 1980s, a civil disobedience movement encouraged refusal of the fingerprinting that accompanied registration every five years.[14]

Opponents of fingerprinting argued that it was discriminatory because the only Japanese who were fingerprinted were criminals. The courts upheld fingerprinting, but the law was changed so that fingerprinting was done once rather than with each renewal of the registration,[14] which until a law reform in 1989 was usually required every six months for anybody from the age of 16. Those refusing fingerprinting were denied re-entry permits, thus depriving them of freedom of movement.

Of these foreign residents below, the new wave started 2014 comes to Japan as students or trainees. These foreigners are registered under student visa or trainee visa which gives them the student residency status, Most of these new foreigners are under this visa. Almost all of these foreign students and trainees will return to their home country after 3–4 years (one valid period), few students extend their visa. Vietnamese makes the largest increase, however Burmese, Cambodians, Filipinos and Chinese are also increasing.

Asian migrant wives of Japanese men have also contributed to the foreign-born population in the country. Many young single Japanese male farmers choose foreign wives, mainly from the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, China and South Korea, due to a lack of interest from Japanese women living a farming life.[82] Migrant wives often travel as mail-order brides as a result of arranged marriages with Japanese men.[83] Additionally, Japanese men in urban parts of the country have also begun marrying foreign Asian women.

Country 2018 2017[84] 2015[85] 2014[86] 2012[87] 2011 2010 2005 2000 1990 Main Articles
 China 741,656 711,486 665,847[88] 654,777[88] 652,555[88] 674,879 687,156 519,561 335,575 137,499 Chinese people in Japan
 South Korea 452,701 452,953 457,772 501,230 530,046 545,401 565,989 598,687 635,269 681,838 Koreans in Japan
 Vietnam 291,494 232,562 146,956 99,865 52,364 44,690 41,781 28,932 16,908 6,316 Vietnamese people in Japan
 Philippines 266,803 251,934 229,595 217,585 209,974 209,376 210,181 187,261 144,871 38,925 Filipinos in Japan
 Brazil 196,781 185,967 173,437 175,410 190,581 210,032 230,552 302,080 254,394 14,258 Brazilians in Japan
   Nepal 85,321 74,300 54,775 42,346 24,069 20,383 17,525 6,953 3,649 399 Nepalis in Japan
 Taiwan 58,456 54,358 48,723 40,197 22,773 Taiwanese people in Japan [jp]
 United States 56,834 54,918 52,271 51,256 48,357 49,815 50,667 49,390 44,856 34,900 Americans in Japan
 Indonesia 51,881 46,350 35,910 30,210 25,530 24,660 24,895 25,097 19,346 2,781 Indonesians in Japan
 Thailand 51,003 48,952 45,379 43,081 40,130 42,750 41,279 37,703 29,289 5,542 Thais in Japan [jp]
 Peru 48,266 47,861 47,721 47,978 49,248 52,842 54,636 57,728 46,171 4,121 Peruvian migration to Japan
 India 33,271 30,048 26,244 24,524 21,653 21,501 22,497 16,988 10,064 2,926 Indians in Japan
 North Korea 30,181 31,674 33,939 Koreans in Japan
 Sri Lanka 25,074 20,716 13,152 10,741 8,427 9,303 9,097 9,013 5,655 1,064
 Myanmar 24,471 20,346 13,737 10,252 8,045 8,692 8,577 5,342 4,851 894 Burmese people in Japan
 United Kingdom 17,041 16,498 15,826 15,262 14,652 15,496 16,044 17,494 16,525 9,272 Britons in Japan
 Pakistan 15,583 14,312 12,708 11,802 10,597 10,849 10,299 8,789 7,498 1,875 Pakistanis in Japan
 Bangladesh 14,948 13,033 10,835 9,641 8,622 9,413 10,175 11,015 7,176 2,205 Bangladeshis in Japan
 France 13,248 12,273 10,672 9,641 8,455 8,423 9,060 7,337 5,371 2,881 French people in Japan
 Cambodia 11,210 9,598 6,111 4,090 2,862 2,770 2,683 2,263 1,761 1,148
 Australia 10,386 9,981 9,843 9,350 8,888 9,166 9,756 11,277 9,188 3,073 Australians in Japan
 Canada 10,374 10,085 9,538 9,286 9,006 9,484 9,995 12,022 10,088 4,172
 Mongolia 10,057 8,364 6,590 5,796 4,837 4,774 4,949 3,762 1,209 23 Mongolians in Japan
 Malaysia 10,003 9,394 8,738 8,288 7,848 8,136 8,364 7,910 8,386 4,309
 Russia 8,862 8,500 8,092 7,859 7,295 7,566 7,814 7,110 4,893 340[89] Russians in Japan
 Germany 7,043 6,755 6,336 5,864 5,223 5,303 5,971 5,356 4,295 3,410 Germans in Japan [jp]
 Bolivia 5,858 5,657 5,412 5,333 5,283 5,567 5,720 6,139 3,915 238
 Turkey 5,393 5,167 4,157 3,654 2,528 2,613 2,547 2,275 1,424 190 Turks in Japan・Kurds in Japan
 Italy 4,327 4,019 3,536 3,267 2,629 2,642 2,731 2,083 1,579 890
 Iran 4,069 3,988 3,996 3,976 3,996 4,725 4,841 5,227 6,167 988 Iranians in Japan
 Uzbekistan 3,584 2,269 1,503 1,329 938
 New Zealand 3,317 3,217 3,152 3,119 3,109 3,146 3,250 3,824 3,264 967
 Spain 3,217 2,852 2,495 2,309 1,822 1,883 1,907 1,585 1,338 827
 Afghanistan 3,039 2,873 2,639 2,154 1,609 1,355 1,148 593 430 Afghans in Japan [jp]
 Singapore 2,974 2,763 2,501 2,366 2,135 2,440 2,512 2,283 1,940 1,042
 Nigeria 2,964 2,845 2,638 2,518 2,377 2,730 2,729 2,389 1,741 140 Nigerians in Japan
 Argentina 2,825 2,710 2,630 2,651 2,722 2,970 3,181 3,834 3,072 1,704
 Laos 2,785 2,730 2,592 2,556 2,521 2,584 2,639 2,393 1,677 864
 Mexico 2,744 2,393 2,141 2,033 1,935 1,909 1,956 1,825 1,740 691
 Romania 2,318 2,410 2,408 2,245 2,185 2,281 2,409 3,574 2,449 34 Romanians in Japan [jp]
 Colombia 2,405 2,366 2,268 2,244 2,253 2,505 2,606 2,902 2,496 373
 Ghana 2,305 2,235 2,005 1,915 1,729 1,891 1,883 1,824 1,657 518 Ghanaians in Japan
Total Foreign Residents 2,637,251 2,471,458 2,232,189 2,121,831 2,033,656 2,078,508 2,134,151 2,011,555 1,686,444 984,455

Foreign residents as of 2015

There was an increase of 110,358 foreign residents from 2014 to 2015. Vietnamese made the largest proportion of these new foreign residents, whilst Nepalese, Filipino, Chinese and Taiwanese are also significant in numbers. Together these countries makes up 91,126 or 82.6% of all new residents from 2014 to 2015. However, the majority of these immigrants will only remain in Japan for a maximum of five years, as many of them have entered the country in order to complete trainee programmes. Once they complete their programmes, they will be required to return to their home countries.[90]

As of December 2014 there were 2,121,831 foreigners residing in Japan, 677,019 of whom were long-term residents in Japan, according to national demographics figures. The majority of long-term residents were from Asia, totalling 478,953. Chinese made up the largest portion of them with 215,155, followed by Filipinos with 115,857, and Koreans with 65,711. Thai, Vietnamese, and Taiwanese long-term residents totaled 47,956, and those from other Asian countries totaled 34,274. The Korean figures do not include zainichi Koreans with tokubetsu eijusha (“special permanent resident”) visas, of whom there were 354,503 (of a total of 358,409 of all nationalities with such visas). The total number of permanent residents had declined over the previous 5 years due to high cost of living.[86]

Foreign residents as of 2018

In 2018, the number of resident foreigners was 2.22 million in Japan. This is an all-time high and 1.76% of the population. In 2018, net immigration rose for the sixth straight year with 165,000. More than half of all resident foreigners (1.15 million) are in their 20s and 30s. The number of foreign workers was 1.46 million in 2018, 29.7% are in the manufacturing sector. 389,000 are from Vietnam and 316,000 are from China.[91]

On April 1, 2019, Japan’s revised immigration law was enacted. The revision clarifies and better protects the rights of foreign workers. Japan formally accepts foreign blue-collar workers. This helps reduce labour shortage in certain sectors of the economy. The reform changes the status of foreign workers to regular employees and they can obtain permanent residence status. The reform includes a new visa status called tokutei gino (特定技能, “designated skills”). In order to qualify, applicants must pass a language and skills test (level N4 or higher of the Japanese-Language Proficiency Test). In the old “Technical Trainee programme” a foreign employee was tied to their employer. This caused numerous cases of exploitation. The revision gives foreign workers more freedom to leave and change their employer.[92]

Foreign residents on short term employment contracts

A significant number of foreign residents of Japan are employed on a short term contractual basis under programs administered by the Japanese government. Well known programs include:

  • The JET Programme employing up to 5,000 foreign university graduates as native language teachers in Japanese schools and as international support staff in local government offices.
  • The Technical Intern Training Program employing in excess of 200,000 mainly manual laborers in variety of industries including construction, ship building, manufacturing, agriculture, retail and food processing.

In the light of current demographic trends Japan is likely to experience a decrease in tax revenue without a corresponding decrease in welfare expenses for an increasingly elderly population.[93] Given growing manpower shortages, immigrant workers continue to play an important role taking low skilled and manual labour jobs. A recent growth in blue collar employment using documented short term contractual labour from developing countries has also contributed to the rise in the resident foreign population.[94] The government administered Technical Intern Training Program, first established in 1993, provided over 190,000 short term contracted workers in 2015. However, it has been claimed that many of these workers often work at reduced pay and are required to undertake significant amounts of overtime in order to make up for labor shortages. As trainees, labor standards law and minimum wage legislation has on occasion been ignored by unscrupulous employers.[95] The Japanese government has begun to examine this problem and has sought to both strengthen the vocational training aspect of the work program oversight.

Koseki

Foreign residents were recorded only in an alien registration system separate from the koseki (family registry) and jūminhyō (resident registry) systems in which Japanese citizens were registered until a new registration system was enacted in July 2012. Since then, all residents are recorded by municipal offices in the jūminhyō system.[96] The koseki system continues for Japanese citizens, while foreigners are recorded in a separate residency management system administered by immigration offices which combines the previous immigration status and local alien registration systems.[97]

Foreigner-reporting website and hotline

The Japanese Ministry of Justice maintains a website and hotline for “receiving report on [sic] illegal stay foreigner.” The criteria for reporting include “feeling anxious about a foreigner”, and anonymous submissions are permitted. Japanese immigration authorities work in unison with police to investigate those reported, and human rights groups such as Amnesty International have argued that those reported do not receive proper legal protection.

The Daiyo Kangoku system allows police to detain suspects without charges, access to legal counsel or telephone calls for up to 23 days. In October 2006, the foreigner reporting hotline’s operating hours were extended to include Saturday, Sunday and national holidays.

Fingerprinting foreigners when entering Japan

As of November 20, 2007, all foreigners entering Japan must be biometrically registered (photograph and fingerprints) on arrival; this includes people living in Japan on visas as well as permanent residents, but excludes people with special permanent resident permission, diplomats, and those under 16.[98][99]

  • Immigration Control 2006, the Immigration Bureau, the Ministry of Justice (Japan), 2006.
  • 平成19年版「出入国管理」の発刊について (Publication of Immigration Control 2007), 法務省入国管理局, 2007-9-21.

Religion

Main article: Religion in Japan

Shinto and Buddhism are Japan’s two major religions. They have co-existed for more than a thousand years. However, most Japanese people generally do not exclusively identify themselves as adherents of one religion, but rather incorporate various elements in a syncretic fashion.[100] There are small Christian and other minorities as well, with the Christian population dating to as early as the 1500s, as a result of European missionary work before sakoku was implemented from 1635–1853.

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