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Japanese People

Japan's 2015 census, released 26 February 2016, showed a population decline of 0.7%, the first drop since record keeping began in 1920. Japan's population stood at 127.1 million in the fall of 2015, down 0.7 per cent from 128.1 million in 2010, according to results of the 2015 census. The population is expected to decrease to about 100.6 million in 2050.

The number of Japanese nationals living in Japan dropped for the 7th straight year, to just under 126-million. The new figure was released by the internal affairs ministry 13 July 2016. It's based on a survey of resident registration as of January first. Standing at more than 125,890,000, the number of Japanese nationals fell by more than 270,000 from the past year. The population has declined every year since peaking in 2009.

The 2016 decline is the biggest since the survey began in 1968. A drop indicates that the number of deaths is greater than the number of births. 12.82 percent of the population is under 15 years of age. People between the ages of 15 and 64 make up 60.6 percent. Both percentages have shrunk continuously since 1994. Meanwhile, people aged 65 or older accounted for a record-high 26.59 percent.

Most companies do their major intakes twice a year, for people wanting to start in April and for those wanting to start in October. Shu-katsu or job hunting itself has a very organised schedule. For students this typically begins in the second-last year of a degree program, with the aim being to have secured a job offer or ‘nai-tei’ during the final year. Every year there are huge intakes into companies across Japan, consisting entirely of new grads, or ‘shin-sotsu’. And with Japan’s ageing population and declining workforce, there is an even greater demand for foreign graduates than before. Even the definition of new grad (shin-sotsu) has had to be relaxed, allowing people who may have graduated in previous years, or those who have work experience and are looking to change jobs, access to the same hiring pool.

When young people say “shukatsu,” they mean job-hunting. But nowadays, older people are grimly playing on the word by changing the kanji for “shu” to convey a different kind of activity: preparing for “the end.” Funerals and final resting places are always the main concerns of the elderly. But there are also other details, including what to do with their possessions, that must be sorted out. Besides a formal document like a last will and testament, there are also “ending notes” pertaining to nonlegal matters. Special notebooks are also available, providing seniors a way to specify and organize the type of funeral they want, list relatives and friends, and make a record of their financial assets and what to do with them. The funeral industry is notorious for its high prices and ambiguous pricing structure. Every year, December 16 is observed as the day of 'Shukatsu' festival. The business is called 'ending industry'. Its main aim is to make people aware of what after death is like.

Nihonjinron is the discredited but still widely held idea that Japanese are an especially homogenous and unique people. Although openly aggressive racism is rare, discrimination can be cloaked in the form of polite questions regarding a foreigner’s country of origin and ethnic background, praise of their language and chopstick skills. Generally speaking, it is believed that Japan is a racially homogeneous nation and Yamato is the only ethnic group in Japan. However, there are some other ethnic groups. For example, the Ainu people have been living in Japan since ancient times and have their own Ainu language. Also, many Koreans and Chinese started to live in Japan since the end of the nineteenth century.

The population has begun to decline and the proportion of people of working age continues to decrease. The birthrate is well below replacement level. Japanese people are aging fast while life expectancy continues to increase. The implications for the Japanese economy and for Japan’s position in the world should be obvious. Yet Japanese political and business leaders prefer not to discuss the long-term issues.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is counting on his new minister for stemming Japan's population decline to inspire imitatiors. He's a father of four. Katsunobu Kato, a 59-year-old former Finance Ministry official was appointed October 08, 2015 to a new cabinet post responsible for turning around Japan's demographic descent. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe held the seventh meeting of the Council on Overcoming Population Decline and Vitalizing Local Economy in Japan at the Prime Minister's Office October 30, 2015. During the meeting, opinions were exchanged toward the revision of the comprehensive strategy for overcoming population decline and vitalizing local economy. The Prime Minister stated the following in his opening remarks, "Aiming for regional vitalization means increasing productivity, as well as realizing stable employment and wages in the regions. To that end, we will stimulate and refine regional resources, call for new investments from within Japan and abroad, and produce a plus-sum positive economic cycle."

Japan’s population excluding foreign residents totaled 126,163,576 as of 01 January 2015, down 271,058 from a year earlier, the biggest decline since the current population survey started in 1968. That was the sixth straight annual decline, with the data showing the drop was accelerating as the number of women of childbearing age shrank. the change in Japan’s population in 2005 (net change due to births and deaths) was a decrease of approximately 10,000 people, the first decrease since statistics began to be gathered in 1947.

Though slowing down, Japan’s population increased in the postwar years from around 93.4 million in 1960 to a little over 128 million in 2010: 37-percent increase in these 50 years. However, dividing the total population into three major age groups—children (under age 15), working age (15–64), and elderly (65 and above) — the number of persons under age 15 began to decline in 1980 and continued to decrease rapidly thereafter, reaching 16.8 million in 2010. That is, the population size of this youngest age segment shrank by 40 percent in 50 years from 1960 to 2010. Reflecting these changes in the absolute numbers, the proportion of children in Japan’s total population dropped from 30 percent in 1960 to 13 percent in 2010.

With the proportion of the elderly (those aged 65 and above) in the total population being 23 percent in 2010, Japan is the most aged society in the world. Furthermore, Japan’s population has begun to decline notably since 2010. There has never been a peace-time period (time without crises and upheavals such as wars, famines, and epidemics) in the country’s recorded history in which the population declined continuously for a long duration of time.

Japan' s rapidly aging population has become a top policy issue, especially as the increasing costs of pensions and medical care are debated. With the highest life expectancy on earth, the Japanese potentially face long periods of retirement, as well as the possibility of long periods of disability. Although family support of the elderly is thought to have been strong traditionally, the recent decline in co—residence with children is one indication that the way that support is given may be changing. This issue is of particular concern to the government, which wants to avoid any greater responsibility for the elderly than is necessary given the dramatic population aging yet to come.

Once the population begins to decline, it is projected to continue during the lifetime of, if not all, a large majority of Japanese men and women alive today. On the other hand, there are few, if any, social institutions and systems in the country that have been constructed, taking a long-term population decline into consideration.



A decrease in the size of the economically-active sector of a population exerts downward pressure on economic growth. Economic growth reflects the growth of labor input, capital input and total-factor productivity, so decreased labor input inhibits economic growth. Moreover, a decreased rate of savings on a macro basis decreases capital stock, and thereby puts downward pressure on growth. In addition, an aged society places extra burdens on the social welfare system in terms of increased medical services and pensions.

At the same time, however, food and energy consumption decline, as does the need for investment in social infrastructure. In addition, some urban areas become less congested, and energy consumption falls, so the reduced burden on the environment improves the living standard.

The percentage of women who work, particularly those between 25 and 49 years of age, is low compared to other countries, so this has become a pressing matter. Initiatives have been introduced to support working women and to enhance child care services, but greater input from the private sector is needed to enhance the working environment for women.

With regard to encouraging seniors to join the workforce, the Law for the Stabilization of Employment of the Aged (enforcement from April 2006) facilitates a shift in the mandatory retirement age by requiring employers to undertake any one of the following three measures between 2006 and 2013: (a) lift the age to 65 years, (b) introduce a system for employment after mandatory retirement or (c) remove mandatory retirement altogether.

Compact cities bring workplaces and homes closer together, thereby helping to ease traffic congestion. Placing commercial and public facilities within walking or cycling distance improves access for elderly people. The concentration of urban infrastructure, besides stimulating consumption, also reduces the costs of maintenance and renewal.

One expected effect of population aging will be an increase in the average amount of financial assets per individual and household. Per-capita assets in Japan are already second only to those of the United States, and the savings rate is quite high by international standards, so the latent potential for household consumption is high. As the Japanese market contracts due to depopulation, companies will attempt to capitalize on this potential by shifting away from the low-profit/high-volume model and towards the high-profit model.

Elderly Japanese are not really so well off and the “ecstasy years" of old age are losing their rosy glow — if they truly ever had one. Among the more sensational evidence cited are the supposedly high rate of suicide among elderly Japanese and the existence of temples where the elderly go to pray for a quick death. Also. in recent years, the number of activities for or honoring the elderly on their special day have been few and far between. For most Japanese, September 15th is just another holiday.

During the first quarter of the 20th century. Japan experienced the high mortality and fertility levels characteristic of many present-day developing countries. In 1925, life expectancy at birth was about 45 years and women gave birth to a total 01 5.1 children on average during their childbearing years. But both mortality and fertility tell rapidly in the ensuing decades. By 1950. lite expectancy had increased to 60 years and the total fertility rate (TFR) or average number of lifetime births per woman under current birth rates had fallen to 3.7 children. The femographic change after World War II was even more dramatic. By 1960, the TFR had tallen below the replacement level 01 2.1 children per woman (the number of children needed to just replace a couple in the population).

The population pyramid in Japan, in general, continues to age. The pyramid appears uneven at the older age bracket, because of the fast-paced fluctuation in the past fertility rates - that is, the rapid increase in the number of live birth from 1947 to 1949 (first baby-boom) and the sharp decline in live birth from 1950 to 1957 (baby bust). The population pyramid in 2000 consists of the first baby-boomer generation at the beginning of the 1950s, and the second baby-boomer generation at the end of the 1970s.

The Japanese age pyramid of 1995 is a striking example of a population whose age-sex composition has been altered by past events. The low proportion of males ages 70-83 represents the loss of young men during World War II. The relatively small size of the population ages 56-57 (both males and females) is a demographic response to the Sino-Japanese War in 1938 and 1939.

The population ages 49 and 50 reflects the reduction in the birth rate around the end of World War II. The large group ages 46-48 was born during the first “baby boom” period (1947-1949). The very small percentage of 29-year-olds corresponds to the birth year of 1966—“the year of Hinoeuma” or the “year of the Firehorse.” Superstition maintains that being born during the year of Hinoeuma, which comes every 60 years, is bad luck for girls. The large percentages in the ages 21-24 show Japan’s second “baby boom” period (1971-1974).

Government statistics show that Japan's population is shrinking at a faster pace as births hit a new record low. The Health, Labour and Welfare Ministry says the average number of children a woman gives birth to in her lifetime stood at 1.42 in 2018. That's slightly down from a year earlier. Okinawa was the prefecture with the highest fertility rate at 1.89. Tokyo had the lowest at 1.20. Almost 920,000 babies were born last year. That is the fewest since statistics began in 1899. About 1.36 million people died, the most since the end of World War Two. The number of deaths minus that of births was about 444,000, a record high for an eleventh year in a row.












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Page last modified: 06-07-2021 16:52:25 ZULU