Tokyo finally returns to net inflow of residents 

Tokyo’s resident population is bouncing back into positive territory as the effects of the coronavirus on in-person studying and remote work start to wane. Since the official end of the semi-state of emergency on March 21, 2022, the mood has shifted with events and meetings held in person again, office workers returning to the office, and students returning to campus.

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Tokyo’s 23 wards see net outflow of residents in 2021

On January 28, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications released the annual report on population shifts within Japan in 2021. Tokyo’s 23 wards saw a net outflow of 14,828 residents. But these numbers include foreign residents, and over the past two years the foreign resident population in Tokyo has shrunk considerably.

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Tokyo’s population sees y-o-y drop for first time in over 24 years (due to shrinking foreigner population)

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.

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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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