Japan's population falls by equivalent of San Francisco in five years

As the nation grows progressively older and the birth rate falls, Japan faces a population crisis

Maya Oppenheim
Friday 26 February 2016 15:29
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As the nation has grown progressively older and the birth rate has fallen Japan has faced a population crisis
As the nation has grown progressively older and the birth rate has fallen Japan has faced a population crisis

Japan’s population has fallen by nearly one million people in five years - the first decline since official census records started in the 1920s.

Between 2010 and 2015, Japan lost 947,345 citizens, more people than the entire population of San Francisco.

As the nation has grown progressively older and the birth rate has fallen, Japan has faced a population crisis.

The United Nations predict that Japan’s population is likely to dwindle to 83 million by 2100, with 35 per cent of the populace being older than 65 by this time.

This demographic time bomb has significant implications for a country which already has the greatest public debt of any economy in the world.

In recent years, reports have shown that sex has become less popular in Japan, with the Japanese press terming it the “celibacy syndrome”.

Last year, data from the Japan Family Planning Association found 49 per cent of all respondents said they hadn’t had sex in the past month. The figure was 5 per cent higher than figures in 2013.

When asked why this was the case, 21 per cent of the married men said they were too tired after work, while 16 per cent cited no specific reason but explained they had become sexually inactive after their wives gave birth.

24 per cent of married women said having sex was bothersome while 18 per cent reported fatigue from work.

Increasing numbers of women are also marrying later in Japan, with only 2 per cent of births taking place outside of marriage.

In the attempt to address the looming demographic crisis, the prime minister Shinzo Abe has appointed lawmaker Katsunobu Kato as the “minister for 100 million active people”. Kato has been given the responsibility of evening out Japan’s birth rate at 1.8, up from 1.41 in 2012.

Japan also faces the problem of a rapidly ageing society and has one of the highest populations of elderly citizens of anywhere in the world.

According to a report by the University of Pensylvania titled ‘the graying of Japan’, those over 65 now already account for roughly a quarter of the country’s population.

“Japan’s famed longevity coupled with the low birth rate will leave the country with a much smaller working-age population just as the number of elderly residents peaks,” the report writes.

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