The two sides of Tokyo’s shrinking population

In the month of September, the population of Tokyo’s metropolitan area dropped by 10,673 residents. While that might paint a grim picture, the population is up 28,253 residents from the same time last year. Ultimately the numbers still aren’t convincing enough to show that telecommuting is causing a great exodus from the capital. Almost half of September’s decrease can be attributed to a large and ongoing outflow of foreign residents, which may also be a result of the lack of incoming foreign workers and students due to international travel bans.

Tokyo’s metropolitan area recorded a net outflow of 3,638 residents in September 2020, compared to a net increase of 3,362 seen in September 2019. A total of 27,006 new residents moved into Tokyo during the month, down 11.7% from last year, while 30,644 residents left, up 12.5% from last year.

Most of the mover-outers appear to be heading to Tokyo’s neighboring prefectures of Saitama, Kanagawa and Chiba, which form part of the greater Tokyo area. There is very little evidence of Tokyo-ites making an escape to more regional areas. 

Tokyo had a resident population of 13,971,109 as of October 1, 2020. Back in May it exceeded 14 million for the first time in history. Much of the outflow has been due to a continuing decline in the number of registered foreign residents. Over the 12 months from October 1, 2019 to October 1, 2020, the foreign resident population in the Tokyo metropolitan area decreased by 30,480. Meanwhile, the Japanese population increased by 58,733 over the same period. Since the global pandemic took hold in February, the foreign resident population has shrunk by 39,744 residents, or around 7%. Over that same period, the number of Japanese residents in Tokyo grew by 0.4%.

Neighboring Kanagawa Prefecture, which includes Yokohama and the popular beachside town of Kamakura, saw a net inflow of 1,360 residents in September, a 26.5% increase from this time last year. Incoming resident numbers had barely shifted from last year, but fewer people had left the prefecture. Saitama and Chiba prefectures also saw net inflows of 1,100 ~ 1,200. 

Percentage-wise, Tokushima Prefecture on Shikoku Island was in the top spot nationwide with a 10.8% surge in new residents. The prefecture welcomed 613 new residents in September. However, a further 639 residents left, leaving the prefecture with a small net outflow. Kagoshima Prefecture in southern Kyushu had the biggest drop in new arrivals, with a 20.3% decline from last year. The prefecture had a net inflow of 49 residents. 

Nationwide, fewer people are moving about. In September, moves to other prefectures were down 6% from last year.

Statistics Bureau of Japan.
Tokyo Metropolitan Government Statistics Division.

 1,220 total views,  24 views today