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‘Immigrants’ is a word more commonly heard in Japan in recent years. One reason for this is the need to respond to the country’s shrinking population. As of 1 October 2016, Japan’s total population was estimated to have dropped for the sixth straight year. The rate of population decline has also grown consecutively for each of those six years. The share of elderly people in Japan’s population is the highest in the world, and is increasing at a pace seen nowhere else.

The National Institute of Population and Social Security Research (IPSS) estimates that in the year 2040, the total population of Japan will be 110.92 million compared with roughly 126 million today. Of this total, the productive population — those aged 15–64 — will account for 59.78 million and those aged 65 and over will account for 35.3 per cent. The IPSS estimates that in 2065, these figures will be 88.08 million, 45.29 million and 38.4 per cent, respectively.

It may be unrealistic to suggest that Japan ‘replace’ its declining population and labour shortage solely through migration. But if depopulation is set to harm Japanese society, it is only natural to start considering increasing immigration.

Since Prime Minister Shinzo Abe took back the reins of government in December 2012 and began promoting his ‘Abenomics’ growth strategy, depopulation has come under the spotlight as a key ‘problem’ for Japan. To achieve sustainable development even with population decline, women, elderly people and young people would all be called on to mobilise. Within this context ‘utilising foreign human resources’ has been promoted and related policies quickly implemented. Read more

‘Immigrants’ is a word more commonly heard in Japan in recent years. One reason for this is the need to respond to the country’s shrinking population. As of 1 October 2016, Japan’s total population was estimated to have dropped for the sixth straight year. The rate of population decline has also grown consecutively for each of those six years. The share of elderly people in Japan’s population is the highest in the world, and is increasing at a pace seen nowhere else.

The National Institute of Population and Social Security Research (IPSS) estimates that in the year 2040, the total population of Japan will be 110.92 million compared with roughly 126 million today. Of this total, the productive population — those aged 15–64 — will account for 59.78 million and those aged 65 and over will account for 35.3 per cent. The IPSS estimates that in 2065, these figures will be 88.08 million, 45.29 million and 38.4 per cent, respectively.

It may be unrealistic to suggest that Japan ‘replace’ its declining population and labour shortage solely through migration. But if depopulation is set to harm Japanese society, it is only natural to start considering increasing immigration.

Since Prime Minister Shinzo Abe took back the reins of government in December 2012 and began promoting his ‘Abenomics’ growth strategy, depopulation has come under the spotlight as a key ‘problem’ for Japan. To achieve sustainable development even with population decline, women, elderly people and young people would all be called on to mobilise. Within this context ‘utilising foreign human resources’ has been promoted and related policies quickly implemented.