Japan’s population projected to plummet by almost 40 million by 2065, according to new study

Forecast places new pressure on government to address 'demographic time bomb'

Ella Wilks-Harper
Wednesday 12 April 2017 09:59 BST
Proud parents Kenji and Hiromi Sato hold their son, Haruse, at their home in Minamisanriku
Proud parents Kenji and Hiromi Sato hold their son, Haruse, at their home in Minamisanriku (Yuriko Nakao/Reuters)

Japan’s population is set to plummet from 127 million to 88 million by 2065 - and is projected to drop even further to just 51 million by 2115 if current trends continue.

The bleak forecast from the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research places greater pressure on the Japanese government to address its population problem, which has been described by economists as a “demographic time bomb”.

While the country is currently the 11th most populous nation in the world, its failure to boost birth rates in recent decades has left it with a significantly older population base and a dangerous shortage of young adults.

The institute's data shows that the average life expectancy for women in Japan will increase from 87 to 91 by 2065, while that of men is likely to see a rise from 80 to 85.

This means that, by 2065, people aged 65 or older will make up over 38 percent of the population.

The toxic combination of low fertility rates and an ageing population will add to the gloomy economic prospects for a country with the highest amount of public debt in the world.

The one slight silver lining offered by the data is that it does reveal a moderately slower population decline than has been previously projected.

The research body attributed the small rally to "more women in their 30s and 40s having children".

The Japanese government reshuffled its Cabinet in 2015 with the specific goal of tackling the issue and stopping the total slipping below 100 million by 2060.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had previously appointed Katsunobu Kato as the “minister for 100 million active people” in 2012 to address the rapidly falling birth rates. Nevertheless, last year saw Japanese birth rates drop below 1 million for the first time since records began in 1899.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told the Daily Telegraph he was optimistic about the measures the administration had implemented: “I am sure that the next five years will show even more of an impact.”

Suga also told the Staits Times that the government will "respond with all our strength" to its "most important issue".

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in