Demographics of Japan - Regional Outlook & Trends in 2023

Last Updated: July 30, 2023


Population growth outlook of Japan

Japan has one of the highest life expectancy in the world, yet the nation’s population has been shrinking since 2010 due to falling birth rates, and the rate of decline has accelerated in recent years. Each of the past 10 years has broken its own record, with the nation’s population falling from 128 million in 2008 to 125 million in early 2023, according to Statistics Japan estimates .

The Bureau of Statistics also estimates that by 2060, Japan’s total population is expected to decrease by 40 million people. The combination of population decline and extremely high life expectancy has made Japan one of the fastest aging societies in the world. People aged 65 and over account for more than a quarter of the total population, and this proportion is expected to continue to rise in the future At present, the whole country is facing the dual pressure of declining birth rate and aging population.

The main reason for Japan’s rapid population decline is the persistently low birth rate. Japan’s fertility rate has been declining since the mid-1970s, falling to about 1.3 children per woman by the early 2000s, and has remained at about 1.3 in recent years, but unlike East Asian countries such as South Korea and Taiwan, The economy’s TFR in 2021 is still relatively high compared to 0.8 and 1.1 respectively.

In Japan, the extramarital birth rate is very low, accounting for only 2-3% of all births since the 1950s (the EU and OECD countries average more than 40%). Therefore, the main reason for the decline in Japan’s fertility rate is that the number of young women marrying has decreased. In recent years, the proportion of unmarried women aged 25-34 in the childbearing peak period has been increasing, especially the proportion of single women aged 25-29, which has increased significantly from 21% in 1975 to 66% in 2020 . The proportion of single women aged 30-34 in the same age group also increased from 8% to 39%.

Young Japanese women are increasingly reluctant to marry and have children, partly because of rapidly expanding employment opportunities for them. The number of women attending four-year college degrees began to rise rapidly in the late 1980s and has risen from 15 percent to 51 percent in 2020 . The employment rate of young women has also increased significantly, especially the labor force participation rate of women aged 25-29, which has nearly tripled from 45% in 1970 to 87% in 2020.

Another reason for Japan’s declining marriage rate is the existence of traditional family gender roles. The number of marriages is falling, falling to 514,000 in 2021, according to the government’s white paper on gender equality. According to the survey, a quarter of single people in their 30s do not want to get married. For them, handling housework and childcare poses a significant burden, while Japanese men’s contribution to housework is still low, and the gender imbalance in housework is still significant, which makes it difficult for married women to balance work and family, thus reducing attractiveness of marriage.

The government has been trying its best to increase the fertility rate over the years. Although the fertility rate has not increased, it still restrains the further decline of the fertility rate. The Japanese government’s incentive policy to encourage childbirth is one of the most generous countries in the world. In addition to cash incentives, the score for paternity leave is the highest in the world. The UNICEF report shows Japan’s 30.4 weeks of paid leave is ahead of South Korea’s 17.2 weeks and Portugal’s 12.5 weeks. Now, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida also made a promise in early 2023 that he will take urgent measures to solve the problem of declining fertility rates, submit a plan to double the budget for child-related policies by June, and establish a new government policy in April. Supervision by the Children and Families Government Agency.

A shrinking population will lead to future labor shortages, further slowing economic growth and shutting down some services and possibly less industrial development. According to the estimation of the PERSOL Research Institute of Japan , the labor demand of 70.73 million people nationwide in 2030 is expected to provide only 64.29 million people, resulting in a labor gap of 6.44 million people, of which nearly 6 million people will be short of services and medical care. In addition to the impact on the labor market, the dependency ratio will also increase over time, causing young people to pay higher taxes to support the elderly population.

Table of Contents
Japan - Shares of Population by Age Group
Japan - Factors Behind Growth (Per Thousand People)


Population Structure & Trends in Japan


Ethnicity & Culture in Japan

According to the 2018 census, official data shows that Japan is a racially homogeneous country, with 98 percent of the population considered Japanese, making Japan appear more homogeneous compared to racially diverse countries such as the United States.

In 2018, Japanese lawmakers passed a policy change proposed by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to create a new visa category that would allow some 340,000 foreign workers to work in high-skilled, low-wage jobs for five years, representing a major shift in Japan’s immigration patterns.

Japan’s demographics are changing steadily, with one-third of babies born in Japan in 2019 having non-Japanese parents, up from one in 50 30 years ago, according to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare.

The official language of Japan is Japanese. The Japanese place a lot of emphasis on non-verbal forms of communication, such as indirect communication. For example, questions are answered vaguely to preserve harmony and avoid impoliteness and loss of face.

At the same time, people pay great attention to non-verbal cues (such as body language, posture, expression and tone of voice), which is also a way for them to obtain meaning from conversations. Necessary arguments are often held in private, and people want to get a feel for how the other person feels about a subject without verbal communication. Foreigners often misinterpret this situation as Japanese being unclear or incomplete.


Japanese 97.9%, Chinese 0.6%, Korean 0.4%, other 1.1% (includes Vietnamese, Filipino, and Brazilian) (2017 est. by CIA)




Shintoism 69%, Buddhism 66.7%, Christianity 1.5%, other 6.2% (2018 est. by CIA)

Japan - Education Overview
Japan - Tertiary Education %


Labor Outlook in Japan

Japan - Labor Participation Rate
Japan - Labor Participation by Group
Japan - Participation rate by sectors


Regional Developments in Japan

Population by Major States/Regions | Unit: '000
GDP Per Capita by Major States/Regions | Unit:JPY (Nominal)


  • Population project by age group: UN population database | Data after 2022 is estimated/forecasted | Forecasted with medium variant
  • Currency: nominal USD, unless otherwise specified. | IMF
  • Economic projection: OECD, IMF, EIU, Local Government
  • Culture, ethnicities, languages: CIA Factbook
  •  Education: World Bank
  • Labor ParticipationL ILO,
  • Data Aggregation & Calculation:
  • Analysis: Economic Team
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