Japan’s population bottomed out in 2013, beating its previous record fall of 219,000 in 2012 to 244,000, estimates from the health ministry revealed.
According to the ministry, an estimated 1,031,000 babies were born in 2013, down 6,000 from a year earlier. Around 1,275,000 people died, up about 19,000 from the previous year and the highest annual rise since World War II.
As a result, Japan’s population fell 0.21 percent, or 244,000, to a record low 126,393,679 as of March 31. The population has continually declined since 2007 by natural attrition – deaths minus births.
The recent figures released Wednesday highlight ever growing concerns on the dwindling workforce to support the rapidly aging population, AFP reports.
Japan’s graying population is one of the highest proportions of elderly people in the world, with more than 20 percent of the population is older than 65. The proportion of those older than 65 will reach nearly 40 percent of the population in 2060, according to a 2012 government report.
With uptight immigration policies and little to no motion to open its borders to young skilled workers who could help fill the gap, Japan’s lopsided demographics remain a challenge. And, while news of young Japanese celibacy may be open to interpretation, a shrinking birth rate isn’t.
By Maesie Bertumen