Demographic Shock Ground Zero: Japan's Population Drops At Fastest Pace On Record

Tyler Durden's picture

Japan's demographic timebomb is hardly new, although over the past year it has encountered several notable milestones. Last December, we wrote that for the first time on record, Japan's births dropped below a million. This is what we said at the time:

While the US is finally starting to feel the social, political and economic hit from an aging population, nowhere is the demographic impact more visible than in what is the epicenter of the developed world's demographic problems: Japan. It is here that according to the latest government data, the number of births in Japan is likely to fall below a million this year for the first time since data became available in 1899, reflecting a fast-ageing society and the high cost of child care. The number of births is estimated at 981,000 this year, down from slightly more than a million last year, data from the ministry showed. Births hit a record high of 2.696 million in 1949.

It was also obvious that Japan would also post yet another natural population decline this year as deaths outpace births by a record margin, as seen by the light blue line in the chart above.

Today, Japan's Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications confirmed just that, when it reported that Japan's population has declined for an 8th straight year. More concerning than the ongoing decline, however, was the pace and as the Ministry added, Japan's population fell at the fastest pace on record going back to 1968 when record-keeping began.

As of January 1, the number of Japanese people (excluding resident foreigners) dropped by a record 308,084 from a year earlier to 125,583,658, despite the country's ongoing efforts to tackle the rapid graying of the society.

Last year, Japan's cabinet approved a record $830 billion spending budget for fiscal 2017, which includes child-rearing support: however, at this rate, the local population may not need the free money in the not too distant future. The only hope, as in the case of many European nations, is that a surge in immigration will offset the natural decline of the domestic population whose average age has never been higher.

As we previously reported, the number of births stood at 981,202 - the lowest number on record -  while that of deaths hit a record-high 1,309,515. The "natural population loss" - calculated by subtracting deaths from births - therefore came to 328,313. The ministry also reported that the number of Japanese people slid in 41 of the nation's 47 prefectures amid a continued influx into the capital and its vicinities. Tokyo was the biggest gainer among the six prefectures with population growth, with an increase of 77,400; the capital marked its 21st straight year of increase, to about 13 million. Increases were also observed in the prefectures of Kanagawa, Saitama, Chiba, Aichi and Okinawa prefectures. Of those six, only Okinawa saw the number of births exceed the number of deaths, while population growth among the other five prefectures was the result of more people moving in than moving out. Populations were down from the previous year in the remaining 41 of Japan's 47 prefectures.

The age split was just as drastice: people 65 years old or older accounted for a record-high 27.17% of the country's population while the proportion of those aged 14 or younger continued its declining trend to hit 12.69% in the latest survey.

With the nation's population fast declining and aging, an expert quoted by Mainichi said Japan needs to redesign its social system on the premise that its population will continue to decline for some time.

"The latest announcement shows a continuation of the current trend and is therefore no big surprise," said Masakazu Yamauchi, an associate professor of population geography at Waseda University.

"In order to create and maintain a better society for the next generation, we should place importance on developing an environment that allows people to have families and make their living wherever they live, by improving employment situations and child-rearing support," Yamauchi said. Unfortunately, so far PM Abe's entire policy has been focused on keep the Yen low and keeping Japanese stocks high, while largely ignoring Japan's biggest problem: its demographics.

Numerous economists have call the unsustainable situation a "demographic time bomb," given the vicious cycle that has formed between low fertility rates and declining consumer spending. Similar to other developed nations, the demographic conflict lies in the tension between Japan's traditional work culture, which emphasizes the role of men as primary breadwinners, and younger generations' desire to have flexibility in their personal and professional lives.

One potential solution is to import more foreigners, or accept more refugees, although the latter may be problematic in the culturally homogeneous society that is Japan.

Japan's foreign population stood at about 2.32 million, up about 150,000. The growth is the largest since relevant record-keeping began in 2013. The foreign nationals had visas that were valid for more than 3 months and were registered as residents. As we reported last year, There have been substantial net increases in the number of Chinese, Southeast Asians (especially Vietnamese), and South Asians (especially Nepalese) settling in Tokyo.

Hoping to boost its population at any cost, the government has been increasing its efforts to attract students and high-skilled workers from overseas. Saga Prefecture in southwestern Japan saw the fastest increase of such residents at 13.21 percent as it accepted more students from overseas and offered more foreigners training for technical skills.

Still, even this plan may be insufficient to offset the natural attrition of the domestic population: Japan's overall population, which combines both Japanese and resident foreigners, fell by 159,125 or 0.1% from a year ago to 127,907,086.

What is most troubling, is that the US is no longer that far behind Japan. Last December we reported that in 2016, the US population grew at the slowest pace since the Great Depression...

... largely driven by the collapse in household formation as the number of Millennials living at home with their parents has hit a 75 year high.

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Zepper's picture

For the size that Japan is, there should only be 5 million people living there... 120 million to go!

Stuck on Zero's picture

The quality of life is improving and idiot economists want to fix that.

HockeyFool's picture

Time to start banging some Japanese chicks, huh?

Sonny Brakes's picture

I'll pass. Asian girls just don't do it for me.

RayKu's picture

Have to say, while my preference is for Asian/Polynesian women, each individual must be true to themselves. Can't say as I understand why someone would neg you for saying they don't do it for you. To each their own.

max2205's picture

Most of the time not growing is good....growing pains hurt after 270 years 

techpriest's picture

At some point exponential growth breaks down. I knew some expats living in Japan, and they tell me that this is the common view over there - too many people at this time, so it is not the end of the world if you don't have a lot of kids.

The thing is, the "growth" problem is exacerbated by all of Japan's debt obligations. Ultimately, the bond investments made by Japanese retirees were made on the assumption that hard work and sacrifice during youth would make for security in old age, but the government blew the money on Keynesian nonsense, and there aren't enough young people for the government to rob so they can bail themselves out.

Canary Paint's picture

Maybe we could ship out of work Americans to Japan to be import salarymen.

Fix our problem of having too many restaurant workers. Fix their problem of too few people.

Furthermore, amongst developed nations, Americans are some of the few that could handle having so little vacation.

Also, the Japanese are said to be drinkers. After training at American university parties, we are pretty good drinkers, too.

It's a match made in heaven.

Blue Balls's picture

Socialim the all time boner killer.

Ahmeexnal's picture

Utah has fastest population growth in the US...must be due to the mormon's harems.

CheapBastard's picture

Harems?! Can I still convert?

Blue Balls's picture

White girls with IQ's over 100.

canisdirus's picture

You mean under, right? Mormons are so inbred that their IQs are low, they keep the women minimally educated in the fundamentalist sects, and they have the highest rate of birth defects and mental retardation in the nation. Utah is a disturbing place.

Also, by raw numbers and percentage of the population, Idaho has more Mormons.

GUS100CORRINA's picture

DEMOGRAPHIC BOMB ... Lot of information on the subject. Just GOOGLE the term DEMOGRAPHIC BOMB. 

Interesting that JAPAN sells more ADULT diapers than BABY diapers.

Librarian's picture

The mere mention of the topic of Mormon eugenics is completely triggering to some.

Sanity Bear's picture

fewer hot Japanese chicks around is not an improvement in quality of life

BeanusCountus's picture

Have to give 'em credit. They will only increase the population on their own terms. No unlimited immigration, no undesirables. We'll see how it works out.

El Vaquero's picture

During the Edo period, the Japs lived sustainably with no industrial revolution and 25-30 million people.  You should look into it.  

1033eruth's picture

Exactly, Japan is slightly smaller than Montana in square miles  Montana = 147040  Japan = 145932

Wouldn't that be something if 127 million were jammed into Montana?  And yet we get our monthly Chicken Little call about how Japan is DOOMED.  Thiese are all propaganda articles promoting endless population growth to support a variety of Ponzi schemes.

EddieLomax's picture

Absolutely spot on.  Even back in 1900 the UK was densely populated, our population has doubled since then!

Same problem in Japan, I think that they will find that as the population declines young people enjoy like more and want to have a family, it is a self fixing problem.  People living packed into small spaces are miserable people.

ThrowAwayYourTV's picture

An Island is like a fish bowl. You can only get so big. Its called Mother Nature.

Delving Eye's picture

Japan is one island that is likely to sink into the ocean or end up irradiating itself in the near future. It's called Mother Nature.

Osmium's picture

Fkn thing may tip over.  Just ask Hank Johnson.

SmittyinLA's picture

Most ranchers would bring in more cattle from somewhere else if his refuse to breed

Bunga Bunga's picture

We have a solution for Japan. Soros needs just to redirect his rescue ships.

AlexCharting's picture

When it comes to demographics, quality is more important thatn quantity. Just compare prowess of Japan vs. India. 

UmbilicalMosqueSweeper's picture

...and Japan has binjos and some western-style toilets. Shitting on the lawn is frowned upon.

montresor's picture

Guess they figured they were doing the unborn a favor...

Schmuck Raker's picture

Utah is nation's fastest growing state.

3.5 wives/man will do that.

Xena fobe's picture

This is very good for the Japanese people.  The elite in the US won't be satisfied until everyone here lives like ants in an ant farm.

Doom and Dust's picture

Meanwhile productivity is at a decade high. Japan is an enormous challenge to the economic profession and its eternal population growth paradigm.

If Japan's model of monoculture, population reduction and innovation instead of cheap labor imports succeeds, people in the West might just start questioning its suicidal policies.

Sonny Brakes's picture

In the mid-1990s, Japanese banks were offering 100-year mortgages. This is probably the consequences of such nonsense. Look around folks, very few houses are still standing after 100 years.

Hikikomori's picture

Your average Japanese house is built to a much higher standard than "nominal" 2x4 and OSB American houses.

CheapBastard's picture

There are houses in the outskirts of Tokyo that no one wants since parents have died and kids want to be in the city. They are about 60-70 years old and need fixing up but sell for less then $100k.


The structure is sound my friend tell me just the interior needs re-doing. He is thinking about doing it but commute to his job near the city center is a bitch he said. If he is allowed to do more work at home and only come in 3 days a week, he'll buy one an dlive out there.

waspwench's picture

Only in the US are houses built with the expectation that they will not last beyond 100 yrs.   American houses are shacks:  wood frame, cheap plastic or aluminium siding, asphalt tarpaper roofs.   Elswhere stone or brick houses with slate or tile roofs can and do last for centuries.   In the UK there is considerable cache attached to living an a 17th or 18th century house;   16th Century and earlier is off the charts.

Infinite_Trench's picture

Craziest thing is everytime you see a video of Japanese female youth they are always wearing super-short catholic school pleated dresses and are mostly looking really sexy; where are all the guys?

EHM's picture

Too busy playing with their sex bots. You don't even have to take them out for sushi.

CheapBastard's picture

The creator of Hello Kitty said his original idea was not a cat but a different "kitty" but he said the stores would not sell it. So he switched to a cat.

Librarian's picture

Cool story, bro!

But, Sanrio, a Japanese company has been using this character since the 1950s.

directaction's picture

Japan had two choices once they allowed themselves to be infected with US-style freedom and democracy. Japan can choose to die by low birth rate or die by importing Third World garbage.

Which sword will the Japanese choose?

The Real Tony's picture

Somehow most of the third world garbage ended up in Canada. I guess there was none leftover for Japan.

napper's picture

Japan is certainly not going to import Indians or Pakistanis or Mexicans like the US.

DaveA's picture

"allowed themselves to be infected"? No, they started a war with the US, lost, and had freedom, democracy, and feminism imposed on them by their new leader, Douglas MacArthur.

MEFOBILLS's picture

Why do western pundits always want to immigrate?  Is that to keep the usury growth model alive?  That makes western pundits Jewish usury shills.

Here are the actual facts about Japan:

Japan is reducing its debt.  It's produtivity per person is growing and exceeds the U.S. rate.

More space per person.

The stock market doesn't like it.... tough shit.  Japan is not comitting cultural suicide.  Immigrating foreign labor is suicide.

The stock market is not the real economy.



djrichard's picture

Who would have guessed that high amounts of personal debt would make life too expensive?

archie bird's picture

Fukushima. Infertility. They destroyed the entire Pacific Ocean without ANY accountability. Maybe Karma?