What Makes The Country Run? Looking At Japan Population
One key to understanding how things work in Japan is to look at Japan population. These facts and figures can give us a little perspective on what’s happening all over the country.
Japan has a population of 127 million, packed into about 375,000 square kilometers. To give you an idea of what that means, the United States has about 300 million. This means that Japan has almost half the population of the United States living in a country about the size of California.
To put it another way, Japan is a bit bigger than the United Kingdom, but has more than the population of the UK, Ireland, Australia, Canada and New Zealand put together.
In addition to this, the islands of Japan are volcanic, and about 3/4 of the land is mountainous and sparsely inhabited. The result is that Japan has an average population density of about 350 per square kilometer. That’s twice the population density of the UK and more than 15 times that of the US!
Like the United States, Canada and Australia, population density varies widely according to region. In Tokyo, that number is more than 5,000 per square kilometer! No wonder those trains are so packed!
Japan’s demographics are interesting. A large percentage of the population is over fifty. This is due to a population boom following the war. Since then, birth rates in Japan have been declining. Most families have only one or two children. Many Japanese worry about the burden on the economy when so many elderly need to be cared for.
Japan is fairly racially homogeneous. Fully 99% of the population is ethnically Japanese. Again, this varies widely by region. Cities such as Tokyo and Yokohama have a large non-Japanese population, while areas further away from the Kanto region are much less multicultural. Because of the rise in international marriages recently in Japan, this may change in the near future.
The largest ethnic minority in Japan are Koreans. It is estimated there are about 500,000 ethnic Koreans living in Japan. Following that, there are about 250,000 Chinese. I was surprised to find that there are actually more South Americans (mostly Brazilians and Peruvians) and Filipinos than westerners in Japan. Westerners are a tiny percentage of foreign people living in Japan, actually.
Some worry about the future of Japan, that there may be some kind of population crisis looming ahead. However, the birth rate has been decreasing, so the population growth rate is level. Furthermore, as more foreign residents move to Japan to live, it will become a more multicultural society.