July 26 (UPI) — Japan on Wednesday said the nation in 2022 reported its largest yearly population decline since the start of the government’s count in 1968 as birth rates dropped and the foreign population increased.
Japan’s Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications said that its population dropped by 800,523 to a total of 122,423,038 in 2022 as it recorded declines in all 47 of its prefectures for the first time.
“The severe population decrease in rural areas has spread to urban areas as well,” said Kentaro Fujimoto, a professor at the University of Shizuoka.
The number of Japanese nationals decreased for the 14th straight year in 2022, with a record low of 772,000 births in Japan compared to a record high 1.57 million deaths.
Meanwhile, the foreign national population rose for the first time in three years to a new record of 2,993,839.
Japan’s shrinking population has already had a profound impact on its society by closing schools around the country. Officials reported that more than 1.2 million small businesses in the country have owners aged 70 and up with no successor in line.
The Japanese government under Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has taken stronger measures this year to address the population drop. In January, the government started offering families $7,500 per child to move out of Tokyo to other towns and villages to revive birthrates there.
Officials are hoping that the program will help reduce pressure on public services in Tokyo while boosting the population of those smaller cities by the next survey.
In April, the government opened a new agency that would lead and coordinate efforts to reverse the country’s low birth rate. The new Children and Families agency would address issues related to birth rates, childcare, child abuse and poverty.