In a historic milestone, more than one in ten people in Japan are now aged 80 or above, marking an unprecedented demographic shift.
National statistics further reveal that a staggering 29.1% of Japan’s total population of 125 million are aged 65 or older, setting a new record.
Japan grapples with a longstanding issue of providing for its increasingly ageing population, as it grapples with one of the lowest birth rates globally.
According to the United Nations, Japan has the highest proportion of people aged 65 or older, with this group accounting for 29.1% of the population. In contrast, Italy and Finland follow at 24.5% and 23.6%, respectively.
Predictions from the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research indicate that by 2040, Japan’s population aged over 65 will make up 34.8%.
Notably, Japan boasts one of the highest employment rates for the elderly among major economies, with workers aged 65 or above comprising over 13% of the national workforce. Despite this, the strain on the country’s social security expenditure persists.
In response to rising social security costs, Japan has approved an all-time high budget for the upcoming fiscal year.
Efforts to boost birth rates have yielded limited results, primarily due to the high cost of living and the country’s notoriously long working hours. Japan’s birth rates are slowing, mirroring a trend seen in many countries, including its neighboring nations.
Last year, Japan recorded its lowest number of births since records began in the 19th century, with fewer than 800,000 babies born, a stark contrast to the over two million births reported in the 1970s.
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida warned in January that Japan faces the risk of becoming a society unable to function due to its declining birth rate. However, authorities remain hesitant to rely on migrant workers as a solution to the fertility decline.
Japan is not alone in grappling with these demographic challenges, as other Asian nations face similar issues. Last year, China experienced its first population decline since 1961, while South Korea reported the world’s lowest fertility rate.