Japan’s population is shrinking

Japan’s population is starting to decline. The population in both May and June this year was less than the same months last year — that’s the first time since World War II that this has happened in consecutive months. Overall, Japan’s population fell by about 30,000 during the first six months of this year, thanks to the low birth rate and long-lived population. If the trend continues, it could lead to changes in immigration regulations to try to correct the demographic imbalance.

If the pattern continues for the rest of the year, then the population will have dropped overall in 2005. This could be the start of a decline that was not expected for another couple of years. The Times Online reports that the decline in Japan’s population is sparking fears for the economy, as the social security system struggles to cope with the ageing population.

Japan could help to reverse the population imbalance by allowing more immigration of young people, but this would be politically unpopular. When they eventually get around to addressing this problem, the government will try other things first, like reforming the pensions and social security systems. Opening the doors to allow more foreigners into Japan will probably be their last resort.

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