Demography of Japan
The demographic features of the population of Japan include population density, ethnicity, education level, health of the populace, economic status, religious affiliations and other aspects regarding the population.
Based on the census from October 2010, Japan's population was at its peak at 128,057,352. As of October 1, 2015, the population was 127,094,745 making it the world's tenth-most populous country at the time. It had declined by 0.8 percent from the time of the census five years ago, the first time it had declined since the 1945 census. Mexico's population was slightly less than Japan's in 2015, with projections suggesting Mexico will soon pass Japan. Current statistics do not indicate much difference in population numbers. Japan's population size can be attributed to high growth rates experienced during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Since 2010, Japan has experienced net population loss due to falling birth rates and almost no immigration, despite having one of the highest life expectancies in the world at 81.25 years of age as of 2006. Using the annual estimate for October of each year, the population peaked in 2008 at 128,083,960 and had fallen 285,256 by October 2011. Japan's population density was 336 people per square kilometer.
Based on 2012 data from the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research, Japan's population will keep declining by about one million people every year in the coming decades, which will leave Japan with a population of 42 million in 2110. By that time, more than 40% of the population is expected to be over age 65 in 2060. In 2012, the population had for six consecutive years declined by 212,000, the largest drop on record since 1947 and also a record low of 1.03 million births. In 2014, a new record of population drop happened with 268,000 people. In 2013, more than 20 percent of the population are age 65 and over.
The population ranking of Japan dropped from 7th to 8th in 1990, to 9th in 1998, and to 10th in the early 21st century. In 2015 it dropped further to 11th place, according to both the UN and PRB.
- 1 History
- 2 Population
- 3 Demographic statistics from the CIA World Factbook
- 4 Vital statistics
- 5 Migration
- 6 Languages
- 7 Society
- 8 Minorities
- 9 Foreign residents
- 10 Religion
- 11 See also
- 12 References
- 13 External links
For information on historical demographic data in Japan prior to 1945 refer to:
Japan's population density was 336 people per square kilometer according to the UN World Populations Prospects as of July 2005. It ranks 37th in a list of countries by population density, ranking directly above India (336 per km2) and directly below Belgium (341 per km2). Between 1955 and 1989, land prices in the six largest cities increased 15,000% (+12% a year). Urban land prices generally increased 40% from 1980 to 1987; in the six largest cities, the price of land doubled over that period. For many families, this trend put housing in central cities out of reach.
The result was lengthy commutes for many workers in the big cities, especially in Tokyo area where daily commutes of two hours each way are common. In 1991, as the bubble economy started to collapse, land prices began a steep decline, and within a few years fell 60% below their peak. After a decade of declining land prices, residents began moving back into central city areas (especially Tokyo's 23 wards), as evidenced by 2005 census figures. Despite nearly 70% of Japan being covered by forests, parks in many major cities—especially Tokyo and Osaka—are smaller and scarcer than in major West European or North American cities. As of 2014, parkland per inhabitant in Tokyo is 5.78 square meters, which is roughly half of the 11.5 square meters of Madrid.
National and regional governments devote resources to making regional cities and rural areas more attractive by developing transportation networks, social services, industry, and educational institutions in attempts to decentralize settlement and improve the quality of life. Nevertheless, major cities, especially Tokyo, Yokohama, and Chiba, and to a lesser extent Kyoto, Osaka and Kobe, remain attractive to young people seeking education and jobs.
Japan has a high population concentration in urban areas on the plains since 75% of Japan’s land area is made up of mountains, and also Japan has a forest cover rate of 68.5% (the other developed countries with such a high forest cover percentage are only Finland and Sweden). The 2010 census shows 90.7% of the total Japanese population live in cities.
Japan is an urban society with about only 5% of the labor force working in agriculture. Many farmers supplement their income with part-time jobs in nearby towns and cities. About 80 million of the urban population is heavily concentrated on the Pacific shore of Honshu.
Metropolitan Tokyo-Yokohama, with its population of 35 million residents, is the world's most populous city. Japan faces the same problems that confront urban industrialized societies throughout the world: overcrowded cities and congested highways.
Aging of Japan
Japan's population is aging faster than any other nation. The population of those 65 years or older roughly doubled in 24 years, from 7.1% of the population in 1970 to 14.1% in 1994. The same increase took 61 years in Italy, 85 years in Sweden, and 115 years in France. In 2014, 26% of Japan's population was estimated to be 65 years or older, and the Health and Welfare Ministry has estimated that over-65s will account for 40% of the population by 2060. The demographic shift in Japan's age profile has triggered concerns about the nation's economic future and the viability of its welfare state.
(census; in thousands)
|Population by age (%)|
Demographic statistics from the CIA World Factbook
Population in 5 households, 78.7% in urban areas (July 2000). High population density; 329.5 people per square kilometer for total area; 1,523 persons per square kilometer for habitable land. More than 50% of population lives on 2% of land. (July 1993)
- at birth: 1.056 male(s)/female
- under 15 years: 1.06 male(s)/female
- 15-64 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
- 65 years and over: 0.74 male(s)/female
- total population: 0.95 male(s)/female
- at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
- under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
- 15–64 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
- 65 years and over: 0.73 male(s)/female
- total population: 0.95 male(s)/female
Adult prevalence rate
- less than 0.1% (2009 est.)
People living with HIV/AIDS
- 9,600 (2007 est.)
- 12,000 (2003 est.)
- fewer than 100 (2009 est.)
- 500 (2003 est.)
To measure ethnicity, the Japanese census asks respondents their nationality, rather than asking them to identify by ethnic group as other countries do. For example, the United Kingdom census asks for ethnic or racial background, regardless of nationality. Naturalized Japanese citizens and native-born Japanese nationals with multi-ethnic background are considered to be ethnically Japanese in the population census of Japan. Consequently, census data does not provide much information on ethnicity in Japan.
Within Japan, a distinction between "Polynesian-type" (that is, those with darker skin and rounder eyes) Jomon and "continental-type" (lighter skin and narrower eyes) Yayoi is sometimes observed, although the popular shorthand does not reflect the observed 90% Yayoi / 10% Jomon haploid-group frequency of modern Japanese DNA.
- Over 15: Never married Male 61.8%, Female 58.2%.
- 16–24: Never married Male 31.8%, Female 23.7%.
- 25–29: Never married Male 69.3%, Female 54.0%.
- 30–34: Never married Male 42.9%, Female 26.6% (July 2000).
|Average population (x 1000)||Live births||Deaths||Natural change||Crude birth rate (per 1000)||Crude death rate (per 1000)||Natural change (per 1000)||Total fertility rate||Infant mortality rate (per 1000 births)||Life expectancy (males)||Life expectancy (females)|
|1899||1 386 981||32.0||21.5||10.5||6.33||153.8|
|1900||43 847||1 470 000||916 000||554 000||31.7||20.4||12.6||6.25||155.0|
|1901||44 359||1 557 000||931 000||626 000||33.1||20.4||14.1||6.21||149.9|
|1902||44 964||1 570 000||965 000||605 000||32.9||20.9||13.5||6.16||154.0|
|1903||45 546||1 552 000||936 000||616 000||32.0||20.0||13.5||6.09||152.4|
|1904||46 135||1 500 000||1005 000||495 000||30.6||21.2||10.7||6.04||151.9|
|1905||46 620||1 517 000||1047 000||470 000||30.6||21.9||10.1||5.97||151.7|
|1906||47 038||1 461 000||962 000||499 000||29.0||20.0||10.6||5.69||153.6|
|1907||47 416||1 685 000||1025 000||660 000||33.2||21.0||13.9||5.72||151.3|
|1908||47 965||1 734 000||1037 000||697 000||33.7||20.9||14.5||5.79||158.0|
|1909||48 554||1 766 000||1098 000||668 000||33.9||21.9||13.8||5.71||167.3|
|1910||49 184||1 782 000||1071 000||711 000||33.9||21.1||14.5||5.63||161.2|
|1911||49 852||1 821 000||1050 000||771 000||34.1||20.4||15.5||158.4|
|1912||50 577||1 817 000||1044 000||773 000||33.4||20.0||15.3||154.2|
|1913||51 305||1 835 000||1035 000||800 000||33.3||19.5||15.6||152.1|
|1914||52 039||1 883 000||1109 000||774 000||33.8||20.6||14.9||158.5|
|1915||52 752||1 872 000||1110 000||762 000||33.2||20.2||14.4||160.4|
|1916||53 496||1 873 000||1196 000||677 000||32.9||21.6||12.7||170.3|
|1917||54 134||1 883 000||1208 000||675 000||32.7||21.6||12.5||173.2|
|1918||54 739||1 856 000||1503 000||353 000||32.2||26.7||6.4||188.6|
|1919||55 033||1 850 000||1290 000||560 000||31.6||22.8||10.2||6.27||170.5|
|1920||55 963||2 105 000||1431 000||674 000||36.2||25.4||12.0||6.45||165.7|
|1921||56 666||1 991 000||1289 000||702 000||35.1||22.7||12.4||6.38||168.3|
|1922||57 390||1 969 000||1287 000||682 000||34.3||22.4||11.9||166.4|
|1923||58 119||2 043 000||1332 000||711 000||35.2||22.9||12.2||163.4|
|1924||58 876||1 999 000||1255 000||744 000||33.9||21.3||12.6||156.2|
|1925||59 737||2 080 000||1211 000||869 000||34.9||20.3||14.5||5.10||142.4|
|1926||60 741||2 104 000||1161 000||943 000||34.6||19.1||15.5||137.5|
|1927||61 659||2 061 000||1214 000||847 000||33.4||19.7||13.7||141.6|
|1928||62 595||2 136 000||1237 000||899 000||34.1||19.8||14.4||136.7|
|1929||63 461||2 077 000||1261 000||816 000||32.7||19.9||12.9||142.1|
|1930||64 450||2 085 000||1171 000||914 000||32.4||18.2||14.2||4.70||124.1|
|1931||65 457||2 103 000||1241 000||862 000||32.1||19.0||13.2||131.5|
|1932||65 800||2 165 000||1165 000||1000 000||32.9||17.7||15.2||117.5|
|1933||66 790||2 104 000||1182 000||922 000||31.5||17.7||13.8||121.3|
|1934||67 680||2 028 289||1225 402||802 887||29.9||18.1||11.9||124.8|
|1935||68 662||2 174 291||1152 371||1021 920||31.6||16.8||14.9||106.7|
|1936||69 590||2 086 355||1220 023||866 332||30.0||17.5||12.4||116.7||46.92||49.63|
|1937||70 360||2 164 949||1198 400||966 549||30.9||17.1||13.7||105.8|
|1938||70 590||1 911 966||1250 093||661 873||27.2||17.7||9.4||114.4|
|1939||70 930||1 885 957||1258 514||627 443||26.6||17.8||8.8||106.2|
|1940||71 540||2 100 164||1176 517||923 647||29.4||16.4||12.9||4.11||90.0|
|1941||72 750||2 260 270||1140 428||1119 842||31.1||15.7||15.4||84.1|
|1942||73 450||2 216 271||1157 845||1058 426||30.3||15.8||14.4||85.5|
|1943||73 980||2 235 431||1204 802||1030 629||30.3||16.3||13.9||86.6|
|1944||73 865||2 149 843||1279 639||870 204||29.2||17.4||11.8|
|1945||72 410||1 685 583||2113 798||-428 215||23.2||29.2||-5.9||3.25|
|1946||75 300||1 905 809||1326 592||579 217||25.3||17.6||7.7||4.46|
|1947||78 025||2 678 792||1138 238||1540 554||34.3||14.6||19.7||4.54||76.7||50.06||53.96|
|1948||79 500||2 681 624||950 610||1731 014||33.7||12.0||21.8||4.40||61.7||55.6||59.4|
|1949||81 300||2 696 638||945 444||1751 194||33.2||11.6||21.5||4.32||62.5||56.2||59.8|
|1950||82 900||2 337 507||904 876||1432 631||28.2||10.9||17.3||3.65||60.1||58.0||61.5|
|1951||84 235||2 137 689||838 998||1298 691||25.4||10.0||15.4||3.26||57.5||59.57||62.97|
|1952||85 503||2 005 162||765 068||1240 094||23.5||8.9||14.5||2.98||49.4||61.9||65.5|
|1953||86 695||1 868 040||772 547||1095 493||21.5||8.9||12.6||2.69||48.9||61.9||65.7|
|1954||87 976||1 769 580||721 491||1048 089||20.1||8.2||11.9||2.48||44.6||63.41||67.69|
|1955||89 020||1 730 692||693 523||1037 169||19.4||7.8||11.7||2.37||39.8||63.60||67.75|
|1956||89 953||1 665 278||724 460||940 818||18.5||8.1||10.5||2.22||40.6||63.59||67.54|
|1957||90 734||1 566 713||752 445||814 268||17.3||8.3||9.0||2.04||40.0||63.24||67.60|
|1958||91 546||1 653 469||684 189||969 280||18.1||7.5||10.6||2.11||34.5||64.98||69.61|
|1959||92 434||1 626 088||689 959||936 129||17.6||7.5||10.1||2.04||33.7||65.21||69.88|
|1960||94 094||1 627 939||711 230||916 709||17.3||7.6||9.7||2.00||30.7||65.32||70.19|
|1961||94 943||1 611 772||700 459||911 313||17.0||7.4||9.6||2.05||28.6||66.03||70.79|
|1962||95 832||1 639 631||715 163||924 468||17.1||7.5||9.6||2.01||26.4||66.23||71.16|
|1963||96 812||1 681 242||675 721||1005 521||17.4||7.0||10.4||2.02||23.2||67.21||72.34|
|1964||97 826||1 737 277||678 104||1059 173||17.8||6.9||10.8||2.05||20.4||67.67||72.87|
|1965||98 883||1 844 452||705 363||1139 089||18.7||7.1||11.5||2.14||18.5||67.74||72.92|
|1966||99 790||1 378 968||675 351||703 617||13.8||6.8||7.1||1.58||19.3||68.35||73.61|
|1967||100 725||1 956 725||679 797||1276 928||19.4||6.7||12.7||2.02||14.9||68.91||74.15|
|1968||102 061||1 893 219||691 647||1201 572||18.5||6.8||11.8||2.13||15.3||69.05||74.30|
|1969||103 172||1 910 927||698 669||1212 258||18.5||6.8||11.7||2.13||14.2||69.18||74.67|
|1970||104 345||1 955 277||718 135||1237 142||18.7||6.9||11.9||2.14||13.1||69.31||74.66|
|1971||105 697||2 022 204||689 542||1332 662||19.1||6.5||12.6||2.16||12.4||70.17||75.58|
|1972||107 188||2 059 533||688 788||1370 745||19.2||6.4||12.8||2.14||11.7||70.50||75.94|
|1973||108 709||2 091 983||709 416||1382 567||19.2||6.5||12.7||2.14||11.3||70.70||76.02|
|1974||110 162||2 029 989||710 510||1319 479||18.4||6.4||12.0||2.05||10.8||71.16||76.31|
|1975||111 573||1 901 440||702 275||1199 165||17.0||6.3||10.7||1.91||10.0||71.73||76.89|
|1976||112 775||1 832 617||703 270||1129 347||16.3||6.2||10.0||1.85||9.3||72.15||77.35|
|1977||113 872||1 755 100||690 074||1065 026||15.4||6.1||9.4||1.80||8.9||72.69||77.95|
|1978||114 913||1 708 643||695 821||1012 822||14.9||6.1||8.8||1.79||8.4||72.97||78.33|
|1979||115 890||1 642 580||689 664||952 916||14.2||6.0||8.2||1.77||7.9||73.46||78.89|
|1980||116 807||1 576 889||722 801||854 088||13.5||6.2||7.3||1.75||7.5||73.35||78.76|
|1981||117 661||1 529 455||720 262||809 193||13.0||6.1||6.9||1.74||7.1||73.79||79.13|
|1982||118 480||1 515 392||711 883||803 509||12.8||6.0||6.8||1.77||6.6||74.22||79.66|
|1983||119 307||1 508 687||740 038||768 649||12.6||6.2||6.4||1.80||6.2||74.20||79.78|
|1984||120 083||1 489 786||740 247||749 539||12.4||6.2||6.2||1.81||6.0||74.54||80.18|
|1985||120 837||1 431 577||752 283||679 294||11.8||6.2||5.6||1.76||5.5||74.78||80.48|
|1986||121 482||1 382 976||750 620||632 356||11.4||6.2||5.2||1.72||5.2||75.23||80.93|
|1987||122 069||1 346 658||751 172||595 486||11.0||6.2||4.9||1.69||5.0||75.61||81.39|
|1988||122 578||1 314 006||793 014||520 992||10.7||6.5||4.3||1.66||4.8||75.54||81.30|
|1989||123 069||1 246 802||788 594||458 208||10.1||6.4||3.7||1.57||4.6||75.91||81.77|
|1990||123 478||1 221 585||820 305||401 280||9.9||6.6||3.2||1.54||4.6||75.92||81.90|
|1991||123 964||1 223 245||829 797||393 448||9.9||6.7||3.2||1.53||4.4||76.11||82.11|
|1992||124 425||1 208 989||856 643||352 346||9.7||6.9||2.8||1.50||4.5||76.09||82.22|
|1993||124 829||1 188 282||878 532||309 750||9.5||7.0||2.5||1.46||4.3||76.25||82.51|
|1994||125 178||1 238 328||875 933||362 395||9.9||7.0||2.9||1.50||4.2||76.57||82.98|
|1995||125 472||1 187 064||922 139||264 925||9.5||7.3||2.1||1.42||4.3||76.38||82.85|
|1996||125 757||1 206 555||896 211||310 344||9.6||7.1||2.4||1.43||3.8||77.01||83.59|
|1997||126 057||1 209 000||921 000||288 000||9.6||7.3||2.3||1.39||3.7||77.19||83.82|
|1998||126 400||1 215 000||933 000||282 000||9.6||7.4||2.2||1.38||3.6||77.16||84.01|
|1999||126 631||1 197 000||985 000||212 000||9.5||7.8||1.7||1.34||3.4||77.10||83.99|
|2000||126 843||1 194 000||968 000||226 000||9.4||7.6||1.8||1.36||3.2||77.72||84.60|
|2001||127 130||1 185 000||966 000||219 000||9.3||7.6||1.7||1.33||3.1||78.07||84.93|
|2002||127 386||1 176 000||980 000||196 000||9.2||7.7||1.5||1.32||3.0||78.32||85.23|
|2003||127 670||1 139 000||1023 000||116 000||8.9||8.0||0.9||1.29||3.0||78.36||85.33|
|2004||127 680||1 126 000||1024 000||102 000||8.8||8.0||0.8||1.29||2.8||78.64||85.59|
|2005||127 760||1 087 000||1078 000||9 000||8.5||8.4||0.1||1.26||2.8||78.56||85.52|
|2006||127 710||1 092 674||1084 450||8 224||8.6||8.5||0.1||1.32||2.6||79.00||85.81|
|2007||127 750||1 101 000||1103 000||-2 000||8.6||8.6||-0.0||1.34||2.6||79.19||85.99|
|2008||127 680||1 108 000||1142 000||-34 000||8.7||8.9||-0.3||1.37||2.6||79.29||86.05|
|2009||127 550||1 087 000||1146 000||-59 000||8.5||9.0||-0.5||1.37||2.4||79.59||86.44|
|2010||127 430||1 083 000||1189 000||-105 000||8.5||9.5||-1.0||1.39||2.3||79.64||86.39|
|2011||127 770||1 050 806||1253 066||-202 260||8.3||9.8||-1.5||1.39||2.3||79.44||85.90|
|2012||127 400||1 037 231||1256 359||-219 128||8.2||9.9||-1.7||1.41||2.2||79.94||86.41|
|2013||127 150||1 029 816||1268 436||-244 620||8.1||10.0||-1.9||1.43||2.1||80.21||86.61|
|2014||127 083||1 003 539||1273 004||-269 465||7.9||10.0||-2.1||1.42||80.50||86.83|
|2015||126 900||1 005 677||1 290 444||-284 767||8.0||10.2||-2.3||1.46||80.7||87.0|
2012 (and 2011) update:
Total fertility rate
Japan's total fertility rate (TFR) in 2012 was estimated at 1.41 children per woman, increasing slightly from 1.32 in the 2001–05 period. In 2012, the highest TFR was 1.90, in Okinawa, and the lowest was 1.09, in Tokyo. TFR by prefecture for 2000–05, as well as future estimates, have been released.:page 30
Between 6 million and 7 million people moved their residences each year during the 1980s. About 50% of these moves were within the same prefecture; the others were relocations from one prefecture to another. During Japan's economic development in the twentieth century, and especially during the 1950s and 1960s, migration was characterized by urbanization as people from rural areas in increasing numbers moved to the larger metropolitan areas in search of better jobs and education. Out-migration from rural prefectures continued in the late 1980s, but more slowly than in previous decades.
In the 1980s, government policy provided support for new urban development away from the large cities, particularly Tokyo, and assisted regional cities to attract young people to live and work there. Regional cities offered familiarity to those from nearby areas, lower costs of living, shorter commutes, and, in general, a more relaxed lifestyle than could be had in larger cities. Young people continued to move to large cities, however, to attend universities and find work, but some returned to regional cities (a pattern known as U-turn) or to their prefecture of origin (a pattern referred to as "J-turn").
Government statistics show that in the 1980s significant numbers of people left the largest central cities (Tokyo and Osaka) to move to suburbs within their metropolitan areas. In 1988 more than 500,000 people left Tokyo, which experienced a net loss through migration of nearly 73,000 for the year. Osaka had a net loss of nearly 36,000 in the same year.
The prefectures showing the highest net growth are located near the major urban centers, such as Saitama, Chiba, Ibaraki, and Kanagawa around Tokyo, and Hyogo, Nara, and Shiga near Osaka and Kyoto. This pattern suggests a process of suburbanization, people moving away from the cities for affordable housing but still commuting there for work and recreation, rather than a true decentralization. More people in Japan like to live near coastal areas because they are easier to travel around in than the mountainous interior.
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About 663,300 Japanese were living abroad, approximately 75,000 of whom had permanent foreign residency, more than six times the number who had that status in 1975. More than 200,000 Japanese went abroad in 1990 for extended periods of study, research, or business assignments. As the government and private corporations have stressed internationalization, greater numbers of individuals have been directly affected, decreasing Japan's historical insularity. By the late 1980s, these problems, particularly the bullying of returnee children in schools, had become a major public issue both in Japan and in Japanese communities abroad.
According to the Japanese immigration centre, the number of foreign residents in Japan has steadily increased, and the number of foreign residents (excluding a small number of illegal immigrants and short-term visitors, such as foreign nationals staying less than 90 days in Japan), exceeded 2.2 million people in 2008.
In 2010, the number of foreigners in Japan was 2,134,151. This includes 209,373 Filipinos, many of whom are married to Japanese nationals, 210,032 Brazilians, the majority possessing some degree of Japanese ancestry, 687,156 Chinese and 565,989 Koreans. Chinese, Filipinos, Koreans, and Brazilians account for about 69.5% of foreign residents in Japan.
The current issue of the shrinking workforce in Japan alongside its aging population have resulted in a recent need to attract foreign labour to the country. Reforms which took effect in 2015 relax visa requirements for "Highly Skilled Foreign Professionals" and create a new type of residence status with an unlimited period of stay.
The number of naturalizations peaked in 2008 at 16,000, declining to over 9,000 in the most recent year for which data are available. Most of the decline is accounted for by a steep reduction in the number of Japan-born Koreans taking Japanese citizenship. Historically the bulk of those taking Japanese citizenship have not been foreign-born immigrants but rather Japanese-born descendants of Koreans and Taiwanese who lost their citizenship in the Japanese Empire in 1947 as part of the American Occupation policy for Japan.
Japanese statistical authorities do not collect information on ethnicity, only nationality. As a result, both native and naturalized Japanese citizens are counted in a single group. Although official statistics show near homogeneity, one analysis describe the population as “multi-ethnic”, although unofficial statistics still show that ethnic minorities are small compared with many other countries.[need quotation to verify]
In 2015 the Japanese government under prime minister Shinzō Abe announced that its policy of restricting immigration would not change despite the current declining population. In the long term, its plan is to improve technology to address the labour shortage, while increasing Japanese fertility rates from the current level of 1.4 to 1.8, eventually stabilizing the population at 100,000,000.
The Japanese society of Yamato people is linguistically homogeneous with small populations of Koreans (0.9 million), Chinese/Taiwanese (0.65 million), Filipino (306,000 some being Japanese Filipino; children of Japanese and Filipino parentage). Brazilians (300,000, many of whom are ethnically Japanese) as well as Peruvians and Argentineans of both Latin American and Japanese descent. Japan has indigenous minority groups such as the Ainu and Ryukyuans, who generally speak Japanese.
Japanese citizenship is conferred jus sanguinis, and monolingual Japanese-speaking minorities often reside in Japan for generations under permanent residency status without acquiring citizenship in their country of birth, although legally they are allowed to do so. This is because Japanese law does not recognise dual citizenship after the age of adulthood, and so people becoming naturalised Japanese citizens must relinquish citizenship of other countries when they reach the age of 20. Some ethnic Koreans and Chinese and their descendants (who may speak only Japanese and may never have even visited the country whose nationality they hold) do not wish to abandon this other citizenship.
In addition, people taking Japanese citizenship must take a name using the Japanese character sets hiragana, katakana, and/or kanji. Names using Western alphabet, Korean characters, Arabic characters, etc. are not acceptable as legal names. Chinese characters are usually legally acceptable as nearly all Chinese characters are recognized as valid by the Japanese government. Transliterations of non-Japanese names using katakana (e.g. スミス "Sumisu" for "Smith") are also legally acceptable.
However, some naturalizing foreigners feel that becoming a Japanese citizen should mean that they have a Japanese name and that they should abandon their foreign name, and some foreign residents do not wish to do this—although most Special Permanent Resident Koreans and Chinese already use Japanese names. Nonetheless, some 10,000 Zainichi Koreans naturalize every year. Approximately 98.6% of the population are Japanese citizens, and 99% of the population speak Japanese as their first language. Non-ethnic Japanese in the past, and to an extent in the present, also live in small numbers in the Japanese archipelago.
Japanese people enjoy a high standard of living, and nearly 90% of the population consider themselves part of the middle class. However, many studies on happiness and satisfaction with life tend to find that Japanese people average relatively low levels of life satisfaction and happiness when compared with most of the highly developed world; the levels have remained consistent if not declining slightly over the last half century. Japanese have been surveyed to be relatively lacking in financial satisfaction.
The suicide rates per 100,000 in Japan in 2009 were 29.2 for men and 10.5 for women. In 2010, 32,000 Japanese committed suicide, which translates to an average of 88 Japanese suicides a day in 2010.
Discrimination against ethnic minorities
Three native Japanese minority groups can be identified. The largest are the hisabetsu buraku or "discriminated communities", also known as the burakumin. These descendants of premodern outcast hereditary occupational groups, such as butchers, leatherworkers, funeral directors, and certain entertainers, may be considered a Japanese analog of India's Dalits. Discrimination against these occupational groups arose historically because of Buddhist prohibitions against killing and Shinto notions of pollution, as well as governmental attempts at social control.
During the Tokugawa period, such people were required to live in special buraku and, like the rest of the population, were bound by sumptuary laws based on the inheritance of social class. The Meiji government abolished most derogatory names applied to these discriminated communities in 1871, but the new laws had little effect on the social discrimination faced by the former outcasts and their descendants. The laws, however, did eliminate the economic monopoly they had over certain occupations. The buraku continued to be treated as social outcasts and some casual interactions with the majority caste were perceived taboo until the era after World War II.
Estimates of their number range from 2 to 4 million (about 2% to 3% of the national population). Although members of these discriminated communities are physically indistinguishable from other Japanese, they often live in urban ghettoes or in the traditional special hamlets in rural areas, and membership can be surmised from the location of the family home, occupation, dialect, or mannerisms. Checks on family background designed to ferret out buraku were commonly performed as part of marriage arrangements and employment applications, but have been illegal since 1985 in Osaka.
Past and current discrimination has resulted in lower educational attainment and socioeconomic status among hisabetsu buraku than among the majority of Japanese. Movements with objectives ranging from "liberation" to encouraging integration have tried to change this situation, with some success. Nadamoto Masahisa of the Buraku History Institute estimates that as of 1998, between 60 and 80% of burakumin marry a non-burakumin.
The second largest minority group among Japanese citizens is the Ryukyuan people. They are primarily distinguished from their use of several distinct Ryukyuan languages though use of Ryukyuan is dying out. The Ryukyuan people and language originated in the Ryukyu Islands, which are in Okinawa prefecture.
The third largest minority group among Japanese citizens is the Ainu, whose language is an isolate. Historically, the Ainu were an indigenous hunting and gathering population who occupied most of northern Honshū as late as the Nara period (A.D. 710–94). As Japanese settlement expanded, the Ainu were pushed northward, by the Tokugawa shogunate, the Ainu were pushed into the island of Hokkaido.
Characterized as remnants of a primitive circumpolar culture, the fewer than 20,000 Ainu in 1990 were considered racially distinct and thus not fully Japanese. Disease and a low birth rate had severely diminished their numbers over the past two centuries, and intermarriage had brought about an almost completely mixed population.
Although no longer in daily use, the Ainu language is preserved in epics, songs, and stories transmitted orally over succeeding generations. Distinctive rhythmic music and dances and some Ainu festivals and crafts are preserved, but mainly in order to take advantage of tourism.
In 2005, there were 1,555,505 foreign residents in Japan, representing 1.22% of the Japanese population. Foreign Army personnel, of which there were up to 430,000 from the US and 40,000 BCOF in the immediate post-war years, have not been at any time included in Japanese foreign resident statistics.
A number of long-term resident Koreans in Japan today retain familial links with the descendants of Koreans, that either immigrated voluntarily or were forcibly relocated during the Japanese Occupation of the Korea. Within this group, a number hold Special Permanent Resident status, granted under the terms of the Normalisation Treaty (22. June 1965) between South Korea and Japan. In many cases special residents, despite being born in Japan and speaking Japanese, have chosen not to take advantage of the mostly automatic granting of citizenship to special resident applicants.
Beginning in 1947 the Japanese government started to repatriate Korean nationals, who had nominally been granted Japanese citizenship during the years of military occupation. When the Treaty of San Francisco came into force many ethnic Koreans lost their Japanese citizenship and with it the right to welfare grants, to hold a government job of any kind or to attend Japanese schools. In the following year the government contrived, with the help of the Red Cross, a scheme to "repatriate" Korean residents, who mainly were from the Southern Provinces, to their "home" of North Korea. Between 1959 and 1984 93,430 people used this route. 6,737 were Japanese or Chinese dependents. Most of these departures – 78,276 – occurred before 1962.
All non-Japanese without special residential status (people whose residential roots go back to before WWII) are required by law to register with the government and carry alien registration cards. From the early 1980s, a civil disobedience movement encouraged refusal of the fingerprinting that accompanied registration every five years.
Opponents of fingerprinting argued that it was discriminatory because the only Japanese who were fingerprinted were criminals. The courts upheld fingerprinting, but the law was changed so that fingerprinting was done once rather than with each renewal of the registration, which until a law reform in 1989 was usually required every six months for anybody from the age of 16. Those refusing fingerprinting were denied re-entry permits, thus depriving them of freedom of movement.
Of these foreign residents below, the new wave started 2014 comes to japan as students or trainees. These foreigners are registered under student visa or trainee visa which gives them the student residency status, Most of these new foreigners are under this visa. Almost all of these foreign students and trainees will go back to their home country after 3-4 years (This is the time normally the visa sponsored lasts), not a lot of students extends their visa. Vietnamese makes the largest increase, however Burmese, Cambodians, Filipinos and Chinese are also increasing.
|China||665,847||654,777||652,555||674,879||687,156||519,561||335,575||137,499||Chinese people in Japan|
|Korea||457,772||501,230||530,046||545,401||565,989||598,687||635,269||681,838||Koreans in Japan|
|Philippines||229,595||217,585||209,974||209,376||210,181||187,261||144,871||38,925||Filipinos in Japan|
|Brazil||173,437||175,410||190,581||210,032||230,552||302,080||254,394||14,258||Brazilians in Japan|
|Vietnam||146,956||99,865||52,364||44,690||41,781||28,932||16,908||6,316||Vietnamese people in Japan|
|Nepal||54,775||42,346||24,069||20,383||17,525||6,953||3,649||399||Nepalis in Japan|
|United States||52,271||51,256||48,357||49,815||50,667||49,390||44,856||34,900||Americans in Japan|
|Taiwan||48,723||40,197||22,773||Taiwanese People in Japan (Japanese article)|
|Peru||47,721||47,978||49,248||52,842||54,636||57,728||46,171||4,121||Peruvian migration to Japan|
|Thailand||45,379||43,081||40,130||42,750||41,279||37,703||29,289||5,542||Thais in Japan (Japanese article)|
|Indonesia||35,910||30,210||25,530||24,660||24,895||25,097||19,346||2,781||Indonesians in Japan|
|North Korea||33,939||Koreans in Japan|
|India||26,244||24,524||21,653||21,501||22,497||16,988||10,064||2,926||Indians in Japan|
|United Kingdom||15,826||15,262||14,652||15,496||16,044||17,494||16,525||9,272||Britons in Japan|
|Myanmar||13,737||10,252||8,045||8,692||8,577||5,342||4,851||894||Burmese people in Japan|
|Pakistan||12,708||11,802||10,597||10,849||10,299||8,789||7,498||1,875||Pakistanis in Japan|
|Bangladesh||10,835||9,641||8,622||9,413||10,175||11,015||7,176||2,205||Bangladeshis in Japan|
|France||10,672||9,641||8,455||8,423||9,060||7,337||5,371||2,881||French people in Japan|
|Australia||9,843||9,350||8,888||9,166||9,756||11,277||9,188||3,073||Australians in Japan|
|Russia||8,092||7,859||7,295||7,566||7,814||7,110||4,893||340||Russians in Japan|
|Germany||6,336||5,864||5,223||5,303||5,971||5,356||4,295||3,410||Germans in Japan (Japanese article)|
|Mongolia||6,590||5,796||4,837||4,774||4,949||3,762||1,209||23||Mongolians in Japan|
|Turkey||4,157||3,654||2,528||2,613||2,547||2,275||1,424||190||Turks in Japan・Kurds in Japan|
|Iran||3,996||3,976||3,996||4,725||4,841||5,227||6,167||988||Iranians in Japan|
|Afghanistan||2,639||2,154||1,609||1,355||1,148||593||430||Afghans in Japan (Japanese article)|
|Nigeria||2,638||2,518||2,377||2,730||2,729||2,389||1,741||140||Nigerians in Japan|
|Romania||2,408||2,245||2,185||2,281||2,409||3,574||2,449||34||Romanians in Japan (Japanese article)|
|Ghana||2,005||1,915||1,729||1,891||1,883||1,824||1,657||518||Ghanaian in Japan (Japanese article)|
|Total Foreign Residents||2,232,189||2,121,831||2,033,656||2,078,508||2,134,151||2,011,555||1,686,444||984,455|
Foreign residents as of 2015
There was an increase of 110,358 foreign residents from 2014 to 2015. Vietnamese made the largest proportion of these new foreign residents, whilst Nepalese, Filipino, Chinese and Taiwanese are also significant in numbers. Together these countries makes up 91,126 or 82.6% of all new residents from 2014 to 2015. However, the majority of these immigrants will only remain in Japan for a maximum of five years, as many of them have entered the country in order to complete trainee programmes. Once they complete their programmes, they will be required to return to their home countries.
As of December 2014 there were 2,121,831 foreigners residing in Japan, 677,019 of whom were long-term residents in Japan, according to national demographics figures. The majority of long-term residents were from Asia, totalling 478,953. Chinese made up the largest portion of them with 215,155, followed by Filipinos with 115,857, and Koreans with 65,711. Thai, Vietnamese, and Taiwanese long-term residents totaled 47,956, and those from other Asian countries totaled 34,274. The Korean figures do not include zainichi Koreans with tokubetsu eijusha ("special permanent resident") visas, of whom there were 354,503 (of a total of 358,409 of all nationalities with such visas). The total number of permanent residents had declined over the previous 5 years due to high cost of living.
Foreign residents on short term employment contracts
A significant number of foreign residents of Japan are employed on a short term contractual basis under programs administered by the Japanese government. Well known programs include:
- The JET Programme employing up to 5,000 foreign university graduates as native language teachers in Japanese schools and as international support staff in local government offices.
- The Technical Intern Training Program employing in excess of 200,000 mainly manual laborers in variety of industries including construction, ship building, manufacturing, agriculture, retail and food processing.
In the light of current demographic trends Japan is likely to experience a decrease in tax revenue without a corresponding decrease in welfare expenses for an increasingly elderly population. Given growing manpower shortages, immigrant workers continue to play an important role taking low skilled and manual labour jobs. A recent growth in blue collar employment using documented short term contractual labour from developing countries has also contributed to the rise in the resident foreign population. The government administered Technical Intern Training Program, first established in 1993, provided over 190,000 short term contracted workers in 2015. However, it has been claimed that many of these workers often work at reduced pay and are required to undertake significant amounts of overtime in order to make up for labor shortages. As trainees, labor standards law and minimum wage legislation has on occasion been ignored by unscrupulous employers. The Japanese government has begun to examine this problem and has sought to both strengthen the vocational training aspect of the work program oversight.
Foreign residents were recorded only in an alien registration system separate from the koseki (family registry) and jūminhyō (resident registry) systems in which Japanese citizens were registered until a new registration system was enacted in July 2012. Since then, all residents are recorded by municipal offices in the jūminhyō system. The koseki system continues for Japanese citizens, while foreigners are recorded in a separate residency management system administered by immigration offices which combines the previous immigration status and local alien registration systems.
Foreigner-reporting website and hotline
The Japanese Ministry of Justice maintains a website and hotline (English reference) for "receiving report on [sic] illegal stay foreigner." The criteria for reporting include "feeling anxious about a foreigner", and anonymous submissions are permitted. Japanese immigration authorities work in unison with police to investigate those reported, and human rights groups such as Amnesty International have argued that those reported do not receive proper legal protection.
The Daiyo Kangoku system allows police to detain suspects without charges, access to legal counsel or telephone calls for up to 23 days. In October 2006, the foreigner reporting hotline's operating hours were extended to include Saturday, Sunday and national holidays.
Fingerprinting foreigners when entering Japan
As of November 20, 2007, all foreigners entering Japan must be biometrically registered (photograph and fingerprints) on arrival; this includes people living in Japan on visas as well as permanent residents, but excludes people with special permanent resident permission, diplomats, and those under 16.
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Shinto and Buddhism are Japan's two major religions. They have co-existed for more than a thousand years. However, most Japanese identify as either atheists, irreligious, or do not identify themselves as adherents of one religion, but rather incorporate various elements in a syncretic fashion. There are small Christian and other minorities as well, with the Christian population dating to as early as the 1500s, as a result of European missionary work before sakoku was implemented from 1635–1853.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Demographics of Japan.|
- Japan Population Census 2010
- Expatriates in Japan
- The Dilemma Posed by Japan's Population Decline, discussion paper by Julian Chapple in the electronic journal of contemporary japanese studies, 18 October 2004.
- The Exodus to North Korea Museum (commemorates the story of the 93,340 people who migrated from Japan to North Korea in the period 1959-1984)
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