Report: 30% of city dwellers will be 65-plus by 2040

March 28, 2013

By KIYOKO MIICHI/ Staff Writer

The demographics of Japanese cities look set to change drastically in the years ahead, according to a new report.

A study by the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research estimates that by 2040, about 30 percent of the population will be 65 years or older in all prefectures, with the increase in the senior population most pronounced in urban prefectures.

The report, released March 27, said major metropolitan areas will experience a faster pace of aging than rural areas.

"During the period of high economic growth, the postwar baby boomer generation moved from all parts of Japan to major urban areas to work and form families," said Toru Suzuki, director of the Department of Population Structure Research at the institute. "That sector of the population will begin reaching 65. The rapid aging of the population will likely have a major effect on the fiscal condition of local governments and on social security."

The report said that between 2010 and 2040, Kanagawa Prefecture, which lies just west of Tokyo, will see its senior population increase by 1.6 times. Similarly, other prefectures in which the senior population is expected to increase by more than 1.4-fold are Saitama, Chiba, Tokyo, Aichi and Shiga.

The estimates for future population composition were made based on the results of the 2010 census and other population data, including mortality rates and the moving of people between prefectures.

The prefectures that are expected to have the highest ratio of seniors in their population in 2040 are mainly rural areas. Akita is expected to have the highest ratio of 44 percent, followed by Aomori with 42 percent and Kochi with 41 percent. The actual number of senior citizens in Akita, however, is expected to decrease by 2040 along with an overall decline in population.

Okinawa Prefecture is expected to have the largest increase in its senior population, with a 1.7-fold increase by 2040. However, all other prefectures that will experience sharp increases in their elderly population are expected to be in urban areas.

The increase in the number of those 75 and older will be even steeper, as the increase is expected to be at least 1.7-fold by 2040 in eight prefectures--Saitama, Chiba, Tokyo, Kanagawa, Aichi, Shiga, Osaka and Okinawa.

The increase in those 75 and older will be especially high in Saitama and Kanagawa prefectures, which are expected to experience a doubling of the population in that age bracket.

Meanwhile, the overall population is expected to decrease in 41 prefectures by 2015. The population decrease is expected to cover all 47 prefectures between 2020 and 2025.

The rate at which the population decreases will be particularly rapid in those areas with a high ratio of senior citizens.

The three prefectures expected to have the largest population decreases are identical to those expected to have the highest ratio of seniors. Akita is expected to record a 36-percent population decrease, while Aomori is expected to have a 32-percent decrease and Kochi a 30-percent decrease.

Conversely, prefectures expected to have smaller population decreases are Okinawa at 2 percent and Tokyo and Shiga at 7 percent.

In an earlier estimate made by the institute, the overall Japanese population was expected to fall under 100 million in 2048 and reach 86.74 million in 2060. At that time, the ratio of those 65 and older is expected to be 39.9 percent.

By KIYOKO MIICHI/ Staff Writer
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Senior citizens who are unable to travel to distant stores pick up groceries from a moving stall at a public apartment complex in Kita-Kyushu, western Japan, in January. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

Senior citizens who are unable to travel to distant stores pick up groceries from a moving stall at a public apartment complex in Kita-Kyushu, western Japan, in January. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

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  • Senior citizens who are unable to travel to distant stores pick up groceries from a moving stall at a public apartment complex in Kita-Kyushu, western Japan, in January. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

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