Page 2: Population of Japan 1870-2100

As we have seen on Page 1, Japan's population is expected to reach a peak early in the 21st century and decline thereafter. The following material shows estimates of Japan's population from the mid-19th century to the end of the 21st century.

Table 1: Population of Japan: 1870 to 2100
Year Column 1 Column 2 Column 3
1870   (estimate) 33,000,000
1875     33,997,415
1880     35,929,023
1885     37,868,949
1890     40,453,461
1895     42,270,620
1900     44,825,597
1905     47,678,396
1910     50,984,844
1915     54,935,755
1920   55,963,053  
1925   59,736,822  
1930   64,450,005  
1935   69,254,148  
1940   73,075,071  
1945   71,998,104  
1950   83,199,637  
1955   89,275,529  
1960   93,418,501  
1965   98,274,961  
1970   103,720,060  
1975   111,939,643  
1980   117,060,396  
1985   121,048,923  
1990 123,611,000    
1995 125,570,000    
NSSPPRI Scenario for 2000-2100 (1000s)
  Mid Low High
2000 126,892 126,742 127,140
2001 127,100 126,873 127,469
2002 127,286 126,969 127,796
2003 127,447 127,029 128,113
2004 127,581 127,050 128,413
2005 127,684 127,031 128,690
2006 127,752 126,970 128,938
2007 127,782 126,865 129,150
2008 127,772 126,716 129,322
2009 127,719 126,521 129,450
2010 127,623 126,281 129,531
2011 127,481 125,994 129,563
2012 127,292 125,660 129,544
2013 127,056 125,280 129,473
2014 126,773 124,855 129,349
2015 126,444 124,384 129,175
2020 124,133 121,391 127,608
2025 120,913 117,484 125,201
2030 117,149 112,938 122,473
2035 113,114 107,985 119,689
2040 108,964 102,820 116,868
2045 104,758 97,579 113,959
2050 100,496 92,309 110,962
2055 96,188 87,021 107,956
2060 91,848 81,698 105,007
2065 87,636 76,476 102,257
2070 83,773 71,594 99,850
2075 80,368 67,207 97,824
2080 77,375 63,316 96,104
2085 74,640 59,798 94,533
2090 72,068 56,569 93,015
2095 69,635 53,596 91,523
2100 67,366 50,884 90,085

Notes and sources:
  1. 1870 population is an estimate. The population of Japan in 1846 is given as 26,907,625 and in 1872 as 33,110,796 in the source quoted in note 2.
  2. Population of Japan 1875-1915 (Column 3) from Census Tables of the Meiji and Taisho Eras, Toyo Keizaishinbunsha (Toyo Economic Newspaper Co.) p.634.
  3. Population of Japan 1920-1985 (Column 2) from Census Tables of the Showa Era, Toyo Keizaishinbunnsha (Toyo Economic Newspaper Co.) p.23.
  4. Population of Japan 1990-1995, and the 2000-2100 population scenario from NSSPPRI (National Social Security and Population Problem Research Institute: www.ipss.go.jp/)
  5. Bold italics are estimated peak populations
Plotting the population values for 5-year intervals from Table 1 gives the following graph:

Graph 1: Population of Japan, 1870-2100

Population of Japan, 1870-2100



Plotting the population values for each year 2000-2015 from the NSSPPRI population scenario shown in Table 1 gives the following graph showing estimates of Japan's population peak:

Graph 2: Japan's Population Peak

Japan's Population Peak


The population estimates for Japan's future population are based on assumptions of future total fertility rates (TFR - the average number of children a woman is expected to bear during her lifetime). The following table and graph show the NSSPPRI assumptions concerning Japan's future TFR.

Table 2: Changes in Assumed TFR for Japan, 1995-2050
TFR Assumptions
Year High Median Low
1995 1.42170 1.42170 1.42170
2000 1.49919 1.37987 1.31050
2005 1.65537 1.42630 1.28053
2010 1.76345 1.49890 1.30309
2015 1.81862 1.55662 1.34169
2020 1.84480 1.59335 1.36964
2025 1.85208 1.60607 1.37866
2030 1.85367 1.60960 1.38066
2050 1.85367 1.60960 1.38066
(1995 figure is actual)

Graph 3: Changes in Assumed TFR for Japan, 1997-2050



NSSPPRI appears to assume that Japan's TFR will bottom out in 2000 or 2005 (median or low variants) and recover thereafter till around 2020, remaining steady from that time on. As mentioned on Page 1, since we cannot know the future we have know direct way of knowing how TFR values will change. Statistical estimates are, for the same reason, made on the basis that large-scale natural disasters, food shortages (famines), wars and other calamities will not occur to a significant extent and that society will be approximately the same in 2050 as it is in 2000. It will be explained later that in fact various large-scale calamities are likely to occur over the next 50 years. Pollution effects on human reproductive health (chemical pollution of the environment) are also likely to worsen with time unless drastic action is taken very soon (but this seems unlikely to happen in the current socio-politico-economical environment) and this will probably have a suppressing effect on TFR. The average TFR therefore may be more likely to approach 1.0 by 2050, thus reducing Japan's population below the low variant, perhaps resulting in a population of around 70-80 million in 2050.

Since it will be necessary later to discuss briefly the ageing of and the ratio of age groups within the Japanese population, the graph below (also from NSSPPRI) is given here. The trends are clear, but the usual caveats apply (i.e. we cannot know the future with any certainty, and extrapolation of trends is not necessarily the most useful useful way of thinking about the future. There is a strong tendency in Japan to see the ageing of the population as a problem, but this view is firmly based on the assumption that current socio-politico-economical arrangements will continue unchanged for the forseeable (how many years?) future. As will be explained later, this is probably an unreasonable expectation.


This page will be updated as further data becomes available. Kindly direct comments, questions and suggestions to Tony Boys



World Population





2000/03/26
Antony F.F. Boys