In February, the population of the Tokyo metropolitan area dropped 662 residents from this time last year. This was the first time since June 1996 that the city’s population has seen a year-on-year drop. The decline is said to be due to both a net outflow of residents to surrounding prefectures as well as fewer births, but the data suggests a different story.

When looking at the population of Japanese citizens and foreign residents, the total number of Japanese residents in Tokyo increased by 29,544, while the foreign resident population shrank by 28,449 since February 2020. 

There has been a slight recovery in the foreign resident population with month-to-month increases for the past three months. Meanwhile, Japanese residents have seen month-on-month decreases since September. The Japanese population now sits at the same level it was in March 2020. Back in May 2020, the city’s total resident population exceeded 14 million for the first time in history. In 1963 it exceeded 10 million and remained relatively flat until 1997. By 2010 the population had reached 13 million.

Which neighborhoods are seeing the largest decline? Ota ward saw its population drop by 926 residents from January, while Setagaya and Suginami wards both shrank by about 500 residents from the previous month. Only Minato, Chuo, Shinjuku, Bunkyo, Toshima and Taito wards saw their populations increase. 

The Nikkei Shimbun, February 26, 2021.
Tokyo Metropolitan Government Statistics Division.