According to official data issued on Wednesday, Japan's population has decreased for the 12th straight year as deaths have increased and the birth rate has continued to decline.
According to statistics, there were 124.49 million people in the country in 2022, down 556,000 from the year before.
That number reflects both the flow of individuals entering and leaving the nation as well as the natural change in population brought on by deaths and births.
According to Cabinet Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno, the natural change last year was the largest on record, with a decline of 731,000 people, softened by the surge of individuals entering Japan, which gave an increase of 175,000.
The dropping birthrate, which is a significant contributor to the population loss, must be addressed as one of the top priorities, according to Matsuno.
With one of the longest life expectancies and one of the lowest birth rates in the world, Japan had approximately one in every 1,500 residents who were 100 years or older in 2020, according to government statistics.
This will result in an aging population, a declining workforce, and a lack of young people to fill the vacancies, creating a demographic catastrophe that has been building for decades.
All 47 of Japan's prefectures, with the exception of Tokyo, reported a reduction in people last year, illustrating the trend across the whole nation. One birth in a village in central Japan was the only one there had been in 25 years, and the old people of the area celebrated the birth as a miracle.
Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida warned legislators in January that the nation is "on the brink of not being able to maintain social functions" because of the declining birth rate.
The government's "most important policy," he continued, was to help parents in raising their children, and a solution "simply cannot wait any longer."
As the climate situation gets worse, some scientists and academics contend that population reduction might help our weakened ecosystems and reduce emissions. With fewer employees to pay for healthcare and pensions, as well as fewer personnel to care for the elderly, it also poses problems for nations like Japan.
Japan's new Children and Families Agency, which focuses on initiatives to help parents including expanding childcare facilities and offering adolescent services like counseling, was established in April.
Previous attempts to change the situation, sometimes driven by local governments, have so far been unsuccessful.
Many young people in Japan find it difficult to establish families due to their busy metropolitan lifestyles and lengthy work hours, and the nation's growing cost of living makes it prohibitively costly for many to have children.
According to study by financial organization Jefferies, Japan was one of the most costly countries in the world to raise a child in 2022. Yet the economy of the nation has stagnated since the early 1990s, leading to exasperatingly low incomes and few opportunities for advancement.
The decline of Japanese nationals over the last year also reveals the government's staunchly anti-immigration sentiments. According to the Japanese government, just 2.2% of people were foreigners in 2021, compared to 13.6% in the United States.
A 2021 poll by the Pew Research Center indicated that around half of Japanese adults believe that having a varied culture makes their nation a worse place to live, albeit this figure is down from prior years. These sentiments are common among the general population.