For the second straight year, figures show that Japan’s population continues to decline while its elderly population continues to increase. In a population survey conducted by the Internal Affairs and Communication Ministry, the population fell at a record 0.22% to 127.515 million as of October 2012 while those 65 and older breached the 30 million mark for the first time.
This is the largest decline in the population since officials started compiling data back in the 1950s. Those aged 65 and older accounted for 24.1 of the population and rose by 1.04 million, particularly because those born in the baby-boom period of 1947 and 1949 are turning 65. Those in the bracket of 14 years and below have now fallen to another record low of 13%.
40 out of 47 prefectures had a decline in the population as well. Fukushima Prefecture had the worst decline at 1.41%. Among the 7 prefectures that had a growth in their population, Okinawa was number one with a .56% increase. Also, for the first time, people aged 65 and older numbered more than those 14 years and below in all of the 47 prefectures. The 3 that had the highest percentage of the senior citizens are Akita (30.7%), Kochi (30.1%) and Shimane (30.0%).
These latest figures present a number of concerns and potential problems. For one, the increase in social welfare spending because of the greying of the population has to be faced and addressed. The figures also include foreign nationals living in the country and they show that there is an increasing number of them leaving the country because of the economic slump, still an after effect of the disasters of 2011. The economic slump is also due to the aforementioned greying of the population which has decreased domestic spending, causing companies to be very conservative in their spending and domestic expansion.
[ via Kyodo News ]