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Japan’s Population Plummets

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Japan, a country known for its large population in comparison to land area, is making world news for the country’s population figures; it might not be what one would expect. The most recent census signifies that over a five year period, Japan has experienced a population decrease for the first time since 1920. This news should not come as a surprise since Japan’s population growth rate has been declining for years. The population of Japan now rests at 127.1 million, which is down 0.7 percent compared to the 2010 census.
Osaka, the second largest city in Japan, is among thirty-nine cities in the country that experienced a drop in population. Of Japan’s 1,719 municipalities, eighty-two percent experienced a population decrease, compared to seventy-seven percent of municipalities five years ago. Over the same time frame, the number of people per household dropped from 2.46 to 2.38. This figure barely fulfils the replacement rate requirement. Japan’s government projects that the population decrease could rise to a million per year, and estimates show that by 2060, the country’s population could be 87 million, with nearly half of the population over the age of sixty-five.
Japan is one of the fastest aging countries in the world. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, twenty-seven percent of the population is currently over the age of sixty-five. In addition, Japan has one of the lowest fertility rates in the world, causing the population to be more weighted towards the older generations. Therefore, since immigration does not play a major factor in maintaining the Japanese population level, demographics are likely to continue shrinking.
Another major force causing Japan’s population woes, are the reduced number of marriages in the country. A large group of young men have been secluding themselves from the general population by finding other hobbies to take up their time. This results in fewer marriages, which then leads to a lower birthrate since out-of-wedlock births are rare. The decreased number of marriages could also be a result of cultural barriers. Through much of Japan’s history up until the 1970’s, arranged marriages composed a large portion of Japan’s marriages. Now that arranged marriages are less common, much of the population is struggling to meet new people. Money also plays a role in the population decrease. Since the 1990’s, wages in Japan have been falling. Since then the costs of housing have skyrocketed, this prompts single men not to jump into marriage until they feel financially secure.
For these reasons, Japan’s population will likely continue to decrease for years to come. Stopping the population numbers from falling will not be an easy task, but Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, says that he has some plans in the works. Whether they will work is left to be seen, but this story will be in the spotlight for years to come.

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Japan’s Population Plummets