The population in Japan declined to 124.95 million in 2022, marking the 12th consecutive year of decline, government data showed Wednesday.
As of Oct. 1 last year, the total population, including foreign residents, saw a decrease of 556,000, or 0.44 percent from the previous year, according to the latest population estimates released by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications.
The number of Japanese nationals, which came in at 122 million, plunged by 750,000, the decline of which has been expanding since 2011, the ministry said in an online report.
The figure represented the largest comparable decline since comparable data became available in 1950, Kyodo News reported.
The government will address the country’s falling birthrate “with the highest priority,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told a press conference.
In the latest count, the number of people under the age of 15 came to 14.5 million, making up for the lowest-ever 11.6 percent of the population, while those aged 65 or over totaled about 36.23 million, slightly up from a year earlier to account for 29 percent of the total.
Of the total population, males accounted for 48.6 percent with a fall for the 15th consecutive year, while the female population saw the 12th consecutive year of decline to account for 51.4 percent.
The population sex ratio, or the ratio of males to females in a population, was 94.7, with females outnumbering males by 3,431,000, the data showed.
From a regional perspective, Tokyo saw its population increase by 0.20 percent, rebounding from the first drop in 26 years last year caused by the COVID-19 pandemic that slowed the traditional influx of people to the capital region, according to local media reports.
Japan’s total population fell below the previous year’s level for the first time in 2005, then peaked in 2008, and has declined for 12 consecutive years since 2011, the ministry’s report said.
With a declining birthrate and an aging population, a shrinking workforce and a greater financial burden on the medical and social security systems are posing challenges to the country.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has on multiple occasions promised to focus on policies related to children this year, vowing to tackle the low birthrate through “unprecedented” steps.
In the latest move to tackle the falling birthrate, the Japanese government put into operation a new administrative body Children and Families Agency to better serve the country’s child-related policies.