Demographics of Japan

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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.

Changes in Japan's population.
Japanese birth and death rates since 1950.

Based on the census from October 2010, Japan's population was at one of its peaks – 128,057,352. As of March 2012 the population estimate was 127,650,000[1] making it the world's tenth-most populous country. Current statistics do not showcase much difference in population numbers.[2] Japan's population size can be attributed to high growth rates experienced during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

In recent years, Japan has experienced net population loss due to falling birth rates and almost no net immigration, despite having one of the highest life expectancies in the world at 81.25 years of age as of 2006.[3] 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.[4] Japan's population density was 336 people per square kilometer.

Based on the latest 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 86 million in 2060.[5] By that time, more than 40% of the population is expected to be over age 65.[6] 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.[7] In 2014, a new record of population drop happened with 268,000 people.[8] In 2013, more than 20 percent of the population are age 65 and over.[9]

The population ranking of Japan dropped from 7th to 8th in 1990, to 9th in 1998, and to 10th since.

Historical population



Japan collects census information every five years. The exercise is conducted by the Statistics Bureau of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications.

Population density[edit]

Japan's population density is 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.

Japanese population density map per prefecture as of 2009 per square kilometer:

The result was lengthy commutes for many workers; daily commutes of two hours each way are not uncommon in the Tokyo area. After a decade of declining land prices, residents have been moving back into central city areas (especially Tokyo's 23 wards), as evidenced by 2005 census figures. Despite the large amount of forested land in Japan, parks in cities are smaller and scarcer than in major West European or North American cities, which average 10 times the amount of parkland per inhabitant.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed]

Urban distribution[edit]

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 Honshū.

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[edit]

Population of Japan by age and sex (demographic pyramid) as on 1888-12-31
Population of Japan by age and sex (demographic pyramid) as on 1920-10-01 (1st national census of population)
Population of Japan by age and sex (demographic pyramid) as on 1940-10-01 (5th national census of population)
Population of Japan by age and sex (demographic pyramid) as on 1950-10-01 (7th national census of population)
Population of Japan by age and sex (demographic pyramid) as on 1975-10-01 (12th national census of population)
Population of Japan by age and sex (demographic pyramid) as on 2000-10-01 (17th national census of population)
Population of Japan by age and sex (demographic pyramid) as on 2010-10-01 (19th national census of population)
Main article: Aging of Japan

Like other postindustrial countries, Japan faces the benefits as well as potential drawbacks associated with an aging population. While countries with young populations may wrestle with problems of crime, poverty, and social unrest, countries with older populations often enjoy higher standards of living. However, the demographic shift in Japan's age profile has triggered concerns about the nation's economic future and the viability of its welfare state.[10] In 1989, only 11.6% of the population was 65 years or older, but by 2007, that figure had risen to 21.2%, making Japan one of the "greyest" countries.[11]

Overview of the changing age distribution 1935–2010[12]
YearTotal population
(census; in thousands)
Population by age (%)

Demographic statistics from the CIA World Factbook[edit]


Population in 5 households, 78.7% in urban areas (July 2000). High population density; 329.5 persons 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)

Sex ratio[edit]

(2010 est.)

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

(2006 est.)

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% (2003 est.)

people living with HIV/AIDS

9,600 (2007 est.)
12,000 (2003 est.)


fewer than 100 (2007 est.)
500 (2003 est.)

Ethnic groups[edit]

98.5% Japanese citizens and 1.5% foreign citizens.[13] The Japanese Census asks respondents their nationality rather than identify people by ethnic groups as do other countries. For example, the United Kingdom Census asks ethnic or racial background which composites the population of the United Kingdom, regardless of their nationalities. Naturalized Japanese citizens and native-born Japanese nationals with multi-ethnic background are considered to be ethnically Japanese in the population census of Japan.[14]

Thus, in spite of the widespread belief that Japan is ethnically homogeneous, at least one academic recommends description of it as a multiethnic society.[15] Internal to Japan, a distinction between "Polynesian-type" (i.e., with darker skin and round eyes) Jomon and "continental-type" (i.e., lighter skin and narrow eyes) Yayoi is sometimes observed, although the popular shorthand does not actually reflect the observed 90% Yayoi / 10% Jomon haploid-group frequency of modern Japanese DNA.[citation needed]

Foreign citizens[edit]

More than 2.5 million (potentially higher because of undocumented migrants) foreigners live in Japan; the number has grown by 14.9% in five years. The two largest sources of foreign citizens in Japan are 0.53 million North and South Koreans and 0.67 million Chinese followed by smaller numbers of Filipinos and Brazilians. Other nationalities include Americans, Canadians, Australians, British, Indonesians, Thais, South Africans, Nigerians, Iranians, Russians, Turks, Indians and European Union nationals.

Historically, the largest number of foreign citizens in Japan were Japanese-born people of Korean ancestry. In recent years Korean-born Koreans have come to outnumber Japanese-born Koreans and Koreans whether foreign or Japanese-born are now substantially outnumbered by Chinese. Indeed, if only foreign-born foreign nationals are considered, the long-term foreign resident population of Japan can justifiably[citation needed] be described as "predominantly Chinese".[citation needed]

Marital status[edit]

Over 15: Never married Male 61.8%, Female 58.2%. 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).

Family and sex[edit]

According to a government survey, more than a quarter of unmarried men and women between the ages of 30 and 34 are virgins. 50% of men and women in Japan said they were not “going out with anyone”.[16]

Vital statistics[edit]

Live births, birth and death rates and overall fertility rate in Japan from 1899 to present.[17][18][19]

Average population (x 1000)Live birthsDeathsNatural changeCrude birth rate (per 1000)Crude death rate (per 1000)Natural change (per 1000)Total fertility rate[20]Infant mortality rate (per 1000 births)Life expectancy[21] (males)Life expectancy (females)
18991386 98132.021.510.5153.8
190043 8471470 000916 000554 00031.720.412.6155.0
190144 3591557 000931 000626 00033.120.414.1149.9
190244 9641570 000965 000605 00032.920.913.5154.0
190345 5461552 000936 000616 00032.020.013.5152.4
190446 1351500 0001005 000495 00030.621.210.7151.9
190546 6201517 0001047 000470 00030.621.910.1151.7
190647 0381461 000962 000499 00029.020.010.6153.6
190747 4161685 0001025 000660 00033.221.013.9151.3
190847 9651734 0001037 000697 00033.720.914.5158.0
190948 5541766 0001098 000668 00033.921.913.8167.3
191049 1841782 0001071 000711 00033.921.114.5161.2
191149 8521821 0001050 000771 00034.120.415.5158.4
191250 5771817 0001044 000773 00033.420.015.3154.2
191351 3051835 0001035 000800 00033.319.515.6152.1
191452 0391883 0001109 000774 00033.820.614.9158.5
191552 7521872 0001110 000762 00033.220.214.4160.4
191653 4961873 0001196 000677 00032.921.612.7170.3
191754 1341883 0001208 000675 00032.721.612.5173.2
191854 7391856 0001503 000353 00032.226.76.4188.6
191955 0331850 0001290 000560 00031.622.810.2170.5
192055 9632105 0001431 000674 00036.225.412.0165.7
192156 6661991 0001289 000702 00035.122.712.4168.3
192257 3901969 0001287 000682 00034.322.411.9166.4
192358 1192043 0001332 000711 00035.222.912.2163.4
192458 8761999 0001255 000744 00033.921.312.6156.2
192559 7372080 0001211 000869 00034.920.314.55.10142.4
192660 7412104 0001161 000943 00034.619.115.5137.5
192761 6592061 0001214 000847 00033.419.713.7141.6
192862 5952136 0001237 000899 00034.119.814.4136.7
192963 4612077 0001261 000816 00032.719.912.9142.1
193064 4502085 0001171 000914 00032.418.214.24.70124.1
193165 4572103 0001241 000862 00032.119.013.2131.5
193265 8002165 0001165 0001000 00032.917.715.2117.5
193366 7902104 0001182 000922 00031.517.713.8121.3
193467 6802028 2891225 402802 88729.918.111.9124.8
193568 6622174 2911152 3711021 92031.616.814.9106.7
193669 5902086 3551220 023866 33230.017.512.4116.746.9249.63
193770 3602164 9491198 400966 54930.917.113.7105.8
193870 5901911 9661250 093661 87327.217.79.4114.4
193970 9301885 9571258 514627 44326.617.88.8106.2
194071 5402100 1641176 517923 64729.416.412.94.1190.0
194172 7502260 2701140 4281119 84231.115.715.484.1
194273 4502216 2711157 8451058 42630.315.814.485.5
194373 9802235 4311204 8021030 62930.316.313.986.6
194473 8652149 8431279 639870 20429.217.411.8
194572 4101685 5832113 798-428 21523.229.2-5.9
194675 3001905 8091326 592579 21725.317.67.7
194778 0252678 7921138 2381540 55434.314.619.74.5476.750.0653.96
194879 5002681 624950 6101731 01433.712.021.84.4061.755.659.4
194981 3002696 638945 4441751 19433.211.621.54.3262.556.259.8
195082 9002337 507904 8761432 63128.210.917.33.6560.158.061.5
195184 2352137 689838 9981298 69125.410.015.43.2657.559.5762.97
195285 5032005 162765 0681240 09423.58.914.52.9849.461.965.5
195386 6951868 040772 5471095 49321.58.912.62.6948.961.965.7
195487 9761769 580721 4911048 08920.
195589 0201730 692693 5231037 16919.47.811.72.3739.863.6067.75
195689 9531665 278724 460940 81818.
195790 7341566 713752 445814 26817.
195891 5461653 469684 189969 28018.17.510.62.1134.564.9869.61
195992 4341626 088689 959936 12917.67.510.12.0433.765.2169.88
196094 0941627 939711 230916 70917.
196194 9431611 772700 459911 31317.
196295 8321639 631715 163924 46817.
196396 8121681 242675 7211005 52117.
196497 8261737 277678 1041059 17317.86.910.82.0520.467.6772.87
196598 8831844 452705 3631139 08918.
196699 7901378 968675 351703 61713.
1967100 7251956 725679 7971276 92819.46.712.72.2314.968.9174.15
1968102 0611893 219691 6471201 57218.56.811.82.1315.369.0574.30
1969103 1721910 927698 6691212 25818.56.811.72.1314.269.1874.67
1970104 3451955 277718 1351237 14218.76.911.92.1313.169.3174.66
1971105 6972022 204689 5421332 66219.16.512.62.1612.470.1775.58
1972107 1882059 533688 7881370 74519.26.412.82.1411.770.5075.94
1973108 7092091 983709 4161382 56719.26.512.72.1411.370.7076.02
1974110 1622029 989710 5101319 47918.46.412.02.0510.871.1676.31
1975111 5731901 440702 2751199 16517.06.310.71.9110.071.7376.89
1976112 7751832 617703 2701129 34716.
1977113 8721755 100690 0741065 02615.
1978114 9131708 643695 8211012 82214.
1979115 8901642 580689 664952 91614.
1980116 8071576 889722 801854 08813.
1981117 6611529 455720 262809 19313.
1982118 4801515 392711 883803 50912.
1983119 3071508 687740 038768 64912.
1984120 0831489 786740 247749 53912.
1985120 8371431 577752 283679 29411.
1986121 4821382 976750 620632 35611.
1987122 0691346 658751 172595 48611.
1988122 5781314 006793 014520 99210.
1989123 0691246 802788 594458 20810.
1990123 4781221 585820 305401 2809.
1991123 9641223 245829 797393 4489.
1992124 4251208 989856 643352 3469.
1993124 8291188 282878 532309 7509.
1994125 1781238 328875 933362 3959.
1995125 4721187 064922 139264 9259.
1996125 7571206 555896 211310 3449.
1997126 0571209 000921 000288 0009.
1998126 4001215 000933 000282 0009.
1999126 6311197 000985 000212 0009.
2000126 8431194 000968 000226 0009.
2001127 1301185 000966 000219 0009.
2002127 3861176 000980 000196 0009.
2003127 6701139 0001023 000116 0008.
2004127 6801126 0001024 000102 0008.
2005127 7601087 0001078 0009 0008.
2006127 7101092 6741084 4508 2248.
2007127 7501101 0001103 000-2 0008.68.6-0.01.342.679.1985.99
2008127 6801108 0001142 000-34 0008.78.9-0.31.372.679.2986.05
2009127 5501087 0001146 000-59 0008.59.0-0.51.372.479.5986.44
2010127 4301083 0001189 000-105 0008.59.5-1.01.39[22]2.379.6486.39
2011127 7701050 8061253 066-202 2608.39.8-1.51.392.379.4485.90
2012127 4001037 1011256 254-219 1538.29.9-1.71.412.379.9486.41
2013127 1501030 0001268 000-244 0008.110.0-1.91.43
20141001 0001269 000-268 0007.910.0-2.1[8]

2012 (and 2011) update:[23]

Total fertility rate[edit]

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.[24]:page 30


Internal migration[edit]

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.


Main article: Japanese diaspora

About 663,100 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.


Main article: Immigration to Japan

According to the Japanese immigration centre,[14] 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),[25] exceeded 2.2 million people in 2008.[14]

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,[26] 210,032 Brazilians, many of whom are of European, rather than Japanese, descent because in the case of a family only one member need have a claim to Japanese ancestry,[27] 687,156 Chinese and 565,989 Koreans. Chinese, Filipinos, Koreans, and Brazilians account for about 69.5% of foreign residents in Japan.[28]

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.[29] 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.

The concept of ethnic group as used by the Japanese statistical authorities differs from that used in ethnicity surveys in North America and certain Western European countries. For example, the UK Census asks for "ethnic or racial background", regardless of each person’s nationality.[30] The Japanese Statistics Bureau, however, does not ask this question. Since the Japanese population census asks about people’s nationality rather than their ethnic background, naturalized Japanese citizens and Japanese nationals with multi-ethnic backgrounds are considered to be ethnically Japanese in the population census of Japan.[14] Thus, although any casual inspection of the population reveals near ethnic homogeneity, it is in one sense possible to describe the population as “multi-ethnic”, although any percentage of ethnic minorities is vanishingly small compared with the numbers in the UK, the United States, Canada, and most other developed countries.[15][need quotation to verify]


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).[31] 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, and so people becoming naturalised Japanese citizens must relinquish citizenship of other countries. 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.[citation needed]

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, so this is not such an important factor. Nonetheless, some 10,000 Zainichi Koreans naturalize every year. Approximately 98.6% of the population is pure Japanese (though technically this figure includes all naturalized people regardless of race) 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.[15]



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.[32][33][34][35] Japanese have been surveyed to be relatively lacking in financial satisfaction.[36]

The suicide rates per 100,000 in Japan in 2009 were 29.2 for men and 10.5 for women, the third-highest in the OECD.[37] In 2010 32,000 Japanese committed suicide, which translates to an average of 88 Japanese suicides a day in 2010.[38]


Hisabetsu Buraku[edit]

Main article: Burakumin

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 continue to be treated as social outcasts and some casual interactions with the majority caste was perceived taboo until the era after World War II.

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. Some attempt to pass as ordinary Japanese, but the checks on family background that are often part of marriage arrangements and employment applications make this difficult. Estimates of their number range from 2 to 4 million (about 2% to 3% of the national population).

Non-Burakumin Japanese claimed that membership in these discriminated communities can be surmised from the location of the family home, occupation, dialect, or mannerisms and, despite legal equality, continued to discriminate against people they surmised to be members of this group. 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.


The second largest minority group among Japanese citizens is the Ryukyuan people.[when?][citation needed] 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.[39]

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.

Foreign residents[edit]

Transition of Numbers of Registered Foreigners in Japan from 5 Major Countries
Age and Sex Distribution of Major Foreigners in Japan.
Country2012[40]20112010200520001990Main Articles
ChinaChina652,555[41]674,879687,156519,561335,575137,499Chinese people in Japan
South KoreaNorth KoreaKorea530,046545,401565,989598,687635,269681,838Koreans in Japan
 Philippines209,974209,376210,181187,261144,87138,925Filipinos in Japan
 Brazil190,581210,032230,552302,080254,39414,258Brazilians in Japan
 Peru49,24852,84210,279Peruvian migration to Japan
 Vietnam52,36444,69041,78128,93216,9086,316Vietnamese people in Japan
 United States48,35749,81550,66749,39044,85634,900Americans in Japan
 Thailand40,13042,75041,27937,70329,2895,542Thais in Japan
 Indonesia25,53024,66024,89525,09719,3462,781Indonesians in Japan
   Nepal24,06920,38317,5256,9533,649399Nepalis in Japan
TaiwanTaiwan22,773Taiwanese People in Japan
 India21,65321,50122,49716,98810,0642,926Indians in Japan
 United Kingdom14,65215,49616,04417,49416,5259,272British People in Japan
 Pakistan10,59710,84910,2998,7897,4981,875Pakistanis in Japan
 Australia8,8889,1669,75611,2779,1883,073Australians in Japan
 Bangladesh8,6229,41310,17511,0157,1762,205Bangladeshis in Japan
 France8,4558,4239,0607,3375,3712,881French people in Japan
 Sri Lanka8,4279,3039,0979,0135,6551,064
 Burma8,0458,6928,5775,3424,851894Burmese people in Japan
 Russia7,2957,5667,8147,1104,893340[42]Russians in Japan
 Germany5,2235,3035,9715,3564,2953,410Germans in Japan
 Mongolia4,8374,7744,9493,7621,20923Mongolians in Japan
 Iran3,9964,7254,8415,2276,167988Iranians in Japan
 New Zealand3,1093,1463,2503,8243,264967
 Turkey2,5282,6132,5472,2751,424190Turks in JapanKurds in Japan
 Nigeria2,3772,7302,7292,3891,741140Nigerians in Japan
 Romania2,1852,2812,4093,5742,44934Romanians in Japan
Total Foreign Residents2,033,6562,078,5082,134,1512,011,5551,686,444984,455

In 2005, there were 1,555,505 foreign residents permanently residing in Japan, representing 1.22% of the Japanese population.[43] Foreign Army personnel, of which there have been up 430,000 from the US and 40,000 BCOF in the immediate post-war years, are not included in the Japanese statistics of foreigners, nor is such personnel subject to local immigration controls. Particularly the US bases and the culture transmitted through them had a significant influence on Japanese fashions.[44]

Most Koreans in Japan today have never been to the Korean Peninsula and do not speak Korean. A significant portion of these foreign residents are the descendants of Illegal immigration of Koreans,[45] a limited number of whom hold a special residence status, granted under the terms of the Normalisation Treaty (22. June 1965) between South Korea and Japan.[46] In many cases special residents, despite being born in Japan and only speaking Japanese, have chosen not to take advantage of Japan's mostly automatic granting of citizenship to special resident applicants.[47]

Beginning in 1947 the Japanese government started a deport those illegal Korean aliens, who were Japanese subjects. In particular, refugees from the massacres conducted by the Korean forces in what is termed the Jeju Uprising, were treated as "smugglers" and frequently forcibly returned to Korea. When the Treaty of San Francisco came into force all 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.[44] 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.[48] 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.[49]

Foreigners in Japan in 2000 by citizenship.
Source:Japan Statistics Bureau[50]

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 from freedom of movement.


Japanese citizens are recorded in koseki (family registry) and jūminhyō (resident registry) systems, while foreign residents are only recorded in a separate alien registration system. From July 2012 a new registration system will be enacted: all residents (both Japanese and resident foreigners) will be recorded by municipal offices in the jūminhyō system.[51] The Japanese family register system will continue for Japanese citizens, whilst foreigners will be recorded in a separate residency management system administered by immigration offices which will combine previous immigration status and local alien registration systems.

Foreigner-reporting website and hotline[edit]

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[edit]

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.[52][53]


Main article: Religion in Japan

Shintō and Buddhism are Japan's two major religions. They have co-existed for several centuries. Most Japanese people generally do not exclusively identify themselves as adherents of only one religion, but rather incorporate various elements in a syncretic fashion.[54] There are small Christian and Muslim minorities.


Businesses for adults are growing inline with old population, such as diapers for adults. In 2012, the yearly sales of Unicharm adult diapers slightly surpassed those for babies.[55]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ See links to the Census and the monthly Population Estimate through the Japan Statistical Agency homepage.
  2. ^ Statistics on the total population in Japan, International Monetary Fund. April 2013. Retrieved June 26, 2013.
  3. ^ CIA - The World Factbook - Rank Order - Life expectancy at birth
  4. ^ Japan Statistical Agency monthly Population Estimate.
  5. ^ "Population Statistics of Japan 2012". National Institute of Population and Social Security Research. January 2012. Retrieved 4 January 2015. 
  6. ^ "Japan population to shrink by one-third by 2060". BBC News. January 30, 2012. 
  7. ^ "Japan’s Population Falls by Record in 2012 as Births Decrease". Bloomberg. Retrieved February 9, 2013. 
  8. ^ a b Daily News (New York) |url= missing title (help). 
  9. ^ "Japan's population falls by record 244,000 in 2013". January 2, 2014. 
  10. ^ Hashimoto, Ryutaro (attributed). General Principles Concerning Measures for the Aging Society. Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan. Retrieved 2011-3-5.
  11. ^ McCurry, Justin (17 April 2007). "Japan's age-old problem". The Guardian (UK) (London). Retrieved 2 January 2011. 
  12. ^ [1] Population by Age Group and Indices of Age Structure(Excel:29KB)
  13. ^ CIA Factbook: Japan
  14. ^ a b c d "平成20年末現在における外国人登録者統計について(Number of Foreign residents in Japan)". Retrieved 2011-11-09. 
  15. ^ a b c John Lie, Multiethnic Japan (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2001) ISBN 0-674-01358-1
  16. ^ Love in 2- // The New York Times, July 21, 2009
  17. ^ B.R. Mitchell. International historical statistics: Africa. Asia & Oceania 1750-2000.
  18. ^ [2] United nations. Demographic Yearbooks 1948-2010
  19. ^ [3] Japan Monthly Statistics
  20. ^ [4] table 2-25 Standardized Vital Rates and Reproduction Rates
  21. ^ [5] table 2-7 Trends of Life Expectancies by Age
  22. ^
  23. ^ Japan's birthdate drops to 1.03 million, number of deaths keep increasing
  24. ^
  25. ^ Japan Immigration,Alien Registration,One-Stop Solution for Corporates and individuals for Immigration procedures
  26. ^ "平成23年末現在における外国人登録者統計について 法務省". Japan: Ministry of Justice. February 22, 2012. 
  27. ^ 平成23年末現在における外国人登録者統計について 法務省, Japan: Ministry of Justice, February 2012, retrieved 2012-02-22 
  28. ^ [6][dead link]
  29. ^ 帰化許可申請者数等の推移
  30. ^ "United Kingdom population by ethnic group". United Kingdom Census 2001. Office for National Statistics. 2001-04-01. Retrieved 2009-09-10. 
  31. ^ "Embassy taps help of Pinoy groups in Japan". Japan. March 12, 2011. 
  32. ^ Ranks of Happiness in Nations in the 1990s
  33. ^ nation
  34. ^ NationMaster - Life satisfaction (most recent) by country
  35. ^ A Global Projection of Subjective Well-being: A Challenge to Positive Psychology?
  36. ^ NationMaster - Financial satisfaction (most recent) by country
  37. ^ Mental Health, WHO
  38. ^ BBC News: Suicides cost Japan economy $32bn
  39. ^ Shinichiro, Takakura (1960). The Ainu of Northern Japan: A Study in Conquest and Acculturation. Independence Square: The American Philosophical Society. pp. 24–25. 
  40. ^ 在留外国人統計(旧登録外国人統計)統計表 法務省 Number of Registered Foreign Residents The Ministry of Justice, Japan
  41. ^ excluding Taiwan
  42. ^ Soviet Union
  43. ^ Statistical Data in Japan
  44. ^ a b Morris-Suzuki, Tessa; Borderline Japan: foreigners and frontier controls in the post-war era; Cambridge 2010; ISBN 978-0-521-86460-2, Ch. 1: "Border Politics," Ch. 8: "A point of no return"
  45. ^ 23 Session of the National Diet, Committee on judicial affairs [7]
  46. ^ Morris-Suzuki (2010), p. 230
  47. ^ HAN: "Koreans in Japan: Past and Present"
  48. ^ Agreement signed in Calcutta, brokered by the ICRC. Morris-Suzuki (2010), p. 208
  49. ^ detailed in: Morris-Suzuki, Tessa; Exodus to North Korea: shadows from Japan's cold war; Lanham, Md. 2006; ISBN 978-0-7425-5441-2
  50. ^ Japan Statistics Bureau, accessed 8 December 2007
  51. ^ "Start of new residency management system". March 2012. 
  52. ^ Chris Hogg Japan ups checks for foreigners, BBC News, 20 November 2007.
  53. ^ The Immigration Bureau introduced new immigration procedures on November 20th, 2007., Immigration Bureau, Ministry of Justice (Japan).
  54. ^ Edwin O. Reischauer The Japanese Today: Change and Continuity; Cambridge, Massachusetts: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press (1988), pg. 215.
  55. ^ "Japanese nation to go extinct in 1,000 years". May 12, 2012. 

External links[edit]