Tokyo records net outflow of foreign residents in 2020

According to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Statistics Division’s report on population movements in the capital in 2020, the metropolitan area saw the total population grow by 8,600 residents (both Japanese and foreigners) over the year. This is the 25th year in a row to see a year-on-year increase. The total population in the metropolitan area reached 13,960,236 residents as of January 1, 2021, while the population of the 23 wards increased by 2,154 to 9,655,266 residents.

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Japanese residents stay, while foreigners exit central Tokyo

The population of the Tokyo metropolitan area as of November 1 had dropped by 7,358 from the previous month to 13,847,040 residents. This is the first time since 1993 that the month of November had seen a month-on-month decrease. Recent news articles have been pointing the finger at the work-from-home trend and an exodus to surrounding prefectures as the main cause of the decline, and while that may be the cause for some of the numbers, the same articles gloss over the startling outflow of foreign residents.

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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.

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Greater Tokyo’s population sees a net inflow for the 23rd year in a row

In 2018 the greater Tokyo region (Tokyo, Saitama, Chiba and Kanagawa prefectures) recorded the 23rd consecutive year of net population growth with a net inflow of 139,868 residents (135,600 of whom were Japanese citizens). This is a 16.8% increase from the net inflow seen in 2017 and the second year in a row to record an expansion in the growth rate. Over half of the net inflow were those aged between 20 and 24. 

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Tokyo’s population declines as residents continue to move to Western Japan

Tokyo’s population has recently seen a net decrease as residents fled the city following the March 11 Tohoku Disaster and the nuclear emergency.

The hiring season and university enrollment schedule in Spring/Summer usually sees the Tokyo population rise. However, the statistics for June and July showed that the number of people who moved out of the Tokyo metropolitan area exceeded the number who moved into the area, causing the total population to decrease by 4,000 in greater Tokyo, and 6,400 in Tokyo alone. This is despite the thousands of new residents moving in from the Tohoku region.

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