Population of Japan: Just How Many Are They?

There is this saying that goes, “No man is an island.” It basically means that no person can ever live alone without any help from other people. Groups of people are essential in order for them to help one another face and overcome struggles. A population of a country is kind of the same thing. It is composed of various individuals living in the same land and helping one another to help make the country grow as a nation. Without it, there would be no one to nurture the country and help it make progress within the society.


Growing a population within a country and having them live harmoniously with one another, however, is not an easy feat. Factors that may affect the relationships within a nation include religion, politics, and other beliefs. Age gap and even the advancement of technology may also affect the growth of the population. Ensuring that the people of the country continue to maintain the population up to the next generation is imperative for the future of the country. On the other hand, having a population too big or too small may also pose certain threats to the overall well-being or state of a country. This seems to be a concern when it comes to the country of Japan. 

The Basic Facts on Population in Japan Through the Years: in 1941, 1944, 1945 Up to 2016

The historical population of Japan began in the year 1910 where the population was estimated to be more than 50 million people. With having one of the highest life expectancies on earth, it is not surprising that the population of Japan continued to grow since then. In the year 1941, 1944, and 1945, the population ranged from 73 million people down to 71 million. This was the first time that the population decreased by 1.5 percent for every five years that it was conducted at the time, since the year 1910 by the Statistics Bureau of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. On the other hand, the population again grew and by the year 1950, the population was at 83 million.

The peak of the population in Japan was in the month of October in the year 2010 when its population reached 128 million people. After five years, this number decreased by 0.8 percent with the population being 127 million. This was the first time it declined after the 1945 census. Nonetheless, Japan then was the tenth most populous country in the world. Attribution of the population size of the country was given to the high growth rates from the late 19th century to the early parts of the 20th century.

Among the current concerns of Japan is its falling birth rate since the year 2010. With a life expectancy of 85 years in the year 2016, net population loss was still a problem. The National Institute of Population and Social Security Research obtained data in the year 2012 that suggested that the population of Japan would continue to decline in the next coming years. It was said that the population would decrease around a million people every year in the next decades.

This may be an issue as it would mean that over 40 percent of the population of Japan would be more than 65 years of age by the year 2060. Furthermore, it would also mean that by the year 2110, the population of Japan would only be 42 million, which is a drastic drop from 128 million of the year 2010. Just in the year 2012, the population continued to drop for six consecutive years by 212,000. This was considered as the biggest decline on record since the year 1947. During this time, the birth rate was also a record low of only 1.03 million births.

Just in the year 2013, over 20 percent of the population of the Land of the Sun is already at 65 years of age and above. To make matters worse, a population decline was recorded just the next year, in the year 2014, at 268,000 people. The population of Japan was ranked at 7th to 8th in the year 1990, but it dropped to 9th in the year 1998. Upon the early 21st century, the ranking continued to drop to 10th place. By the year 2015, with the population shrinking by almost a million, the ranking of the population of Japan further dropped to 11th place.

The Population Density Per Square Mile in Japan and Its Effects Especially in Tokyo


As of the month of July in the year 2005, the population density of Japan was 336 persons per square kilometer, which is equivalent to 874 persons per square mile, as stated by the UN World Populations Prospects. In the list containing several countries ranked according to population density, Japan was in the 37th place in the international level, just above India, which had a population density of 336 persons per square kilometer. Japan was also just below Belgium, which had a population density of 341 persons per square kilometer.

Due to the increasing population density at the time, prices of land in the six biggest cities in the country increased by 15,000 percent from the year 1955 to the year 1989, which was equivalent to more than 12 percent increase each year. Prices of urban land increased as well by up to 40 percent from the year 1980 to the year 1987 with the land price in the six biggest cities increasing by up to twice its original price. Due to this, several Japanese families could no longer afford to live in the central cities of Japan.

As a result, it became typical for various workers to commute for a long period of time to get to their work destination in the big cities. This was especially true for people who work in the area of Tokyo, formerly known as Edo, wherein the commute would take up to two hours one way. However, the bubble economy began to disintegrate in the year 1991. This led to the land prices falling with up to 60 percent below its peak. It was after this incident that Japanese residents started to be able to return to the central cities, most specifically to the 23 wards of Tokyo.

Today, regional and even national governments are making efforts into developing regional cities and rural areas, whether in the north or in the south, so as to encourage the young people to move to these places. Kuni, a village in Gunma, is among those rural areas that are being developed, initially by merging it into the expanded town of Nakanojo. The main goals are to decentralize settlement and to further advance the quality of life of the Japanese people. Actions taken were developing infrastructures, improving transportation networks, and building educational institutions to name a few.

Population Comparison: Japan vs. California, USA

With the size of Japan, it can sometimes be easily compared to California, which is a state in the United States of America. This is because of their similarity in terms of size with California having a land area of around 155,000 square miles and Japan having almost the same size. The vast difference between the two, however, is the population with California housing 37 million people while Japan has 128 million as of the year 2010. Despite the population of Japan being thrice the population of California, the former still sees this as an issue to be dealt with.

It is said that the difference in terms of maintaining their populations lies in the manner of how they build their cities. The Japanese build their cities that are smart, focused, and efficient. Furthermore, the natural treasures of the country are respected and maintained in their original forms as much as possible because of the population density in cities that are well-planned. Moreover, these cities are equipped with efficient mass transportation networks that are available tn the local, regional, and national levels.

On the other hand, a concern in California is that even a bullet train cannot be built among between their biggest metropolitan areas. Cities are continuously being built in their limited land areas. Furthermore, orchards and agricultural fields are also continuously being replaced by malls and suburban housing tracts, which is seen as unsustainable development. Hence, retention of residents in the area is gradually becoming a concern.

Religion Among the Population of Japan Since the 1600s

The population of Japan is composed of millions of people that have certain spiritual beliefs. The two main religions that the majority of Japanese people adhere to are Shinto and Buddhism. Coexistence between the two has lasted for over a thousand years. On the other hand, there are also religions such as Christianity that are growing among the population of Japan. In fact, the Christian population in Japan dates back to as early as the 1500s. This was the outcome of the European missionary work prior to sakoku, which was executed from the year 1635 to the year 1853.

Population of Japan By Age Through the Years

Another concern for Japan is the speed of aging amongst its population. In only a span of 24 years, the population of the people 65 years of age and above increased to double its original amount. It was only 7.1 percent of the population in the year 1970, but this figure double to 14.1 percent in the year 1994. In comparison to other countries, this increase lasted for 61 years for Italy, 85 years for Sweden, and 115 years for France. The discrepancy was alarming, to say the least.

Just in the year 2014, it was estimated that around 26 percent of the population of Japan was 65 years of age and above. According to the Health and Welfare Ministry, it has estimated that 40 percent of the population of Japan would be aged 65 years and above by the year 2060. This caused alarms among the officials of Japan as it concerns that economic future as well as the viability of the welfare state of the country.

Back in the year 1935, the population was composed of 36.9 percent of people 0 to 14 years of age, 58.5 percent of people 15 to 64 years of age, and 4.7 percent of people aged 65 and above. However, the percentage of shifted drastically by the year 1985 wherein the percentage of people aged 65 years and above double. At that time, the population was composed of 21.5 percent of people 0 to 14 years of age, 68.2 percent of people 15 to 64 years of age, and 10.3 percent of people aged 65 and above.

As of this year 2017, the population is composed of a meager 12.4 percent of people aged 0 to 14 years of age, 60.2 percent of people 15 to 64 years of age, and a whopping 27.4 percent of people aged 65 and above. The drastic differences among the youngest and oldest age gaps are astounding. Hence, it comes as no surprise that the government is quite alarmed as to these outcomes. The reason behind these results, on the other hand, is a different matter altogether.

Clearly, the population of a country holds importance as to how a country shall function in the future. Although there are many factors that affect the population growth or decline such as immigration of other foreigners such as Koreans and Chinese, the utmost significance is how the population itself affects the country as a whole. There are now many articles that talk about the population problem in Japan and various solutions proposed to solve this problem. Ultimately, only the Japanese people themselves could solve this issue once and for all. Furthermore, it cannot be done in just a couple of months, say January to February; solving this issue could take a long period of time. Instead of thinking and acting individually, they must unite and help find a solution to this problem as this concerns not just the people but also the very existence of Japan.