The population of Japanese citizens decreased at the fastest pace ever while the number of foreign residents rose to a record at nearly 3 million people, government data showed on Wednesday.
The data underscores that foreign nationals are playing an even bigger role in Japanese society to make up for a shrinking population.
The population of Japanese nationals fell for a 14th year, by about 800,000 people, to 122.42 million in 2022, according to data showing the number of people with resident registrations as of Jan. 1, 2023 that was released by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications.
For the first time, the number of Japanese residents fell in all 47 prefectures, the data showed. The overall population in Japan fell to 125.41 million people, a decrease of about 511,000.
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Japan’s population peaked in 2008 and has declined since then because of its low birth rate, which hit a record low last year.
The number of foreign nationals who have an address in Japan was 2.99 million people as of Jan. 1, a 10.7% jump from a year ago, according to the data. The year-on-year increase was the biggest since the internal ministry began tracking the non-Japanese category a decade ago.
Tokyo was the home to the largest share of foreign residents with 4.2% of the population, or 581,112 people. The country’s capital was the prefecture with the biggest increase in the non-Japanese population last year.
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has made reversing the country’s sliding birth rate a top priority and his government, despite high levels of debt, plans to earmark spending of 3.5 trillion yen ($24.84 billion) a year on child care and other measures to support parents.
(Reporting by Satoshi Sugiyama; Editing by Christian Schmollinger)