Japan's plunging population adds urgency to immigration talk
Nikkei -- Apr 14
Japan's population fell for the seventh straight year in 2017, with the native population dropping at a record pace, while the influx of foreign residents forestalled an even steeper decline.

The trend highlights a reality that few Japanese policymakers mention in public -- that foreigners are rapidly emerging as a key component of Japan's tight labor market.

The number of Japanese fell by 372,000 to 124.64 million as of October, according to data released Friday by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications. The decline exceeded the 299,000 drop in 2016 and marked the fastest slide since the government began keeping records in 1950.

The drop was partly offset by an influx of foreign residents, whose number increased by 145,000 to 2.05 million as of October, as a serious labor shortage continued to push up demand for foreign workers. The figure has nearly doubled over the past 25 years, according to the Internal Affairs Ministry data.

Given Japan's low birthrate -- annual births in 2016 fell below 1 million for the first time since the government began collecting data in 1899 -- the decline in the native-born population is expected to accelerate. Japan's working age population is now only 60% of the total, down 10 percentage points from 1992.

While immigration remains broadly unpopular in Japan, policymakers are gradually expanding foreign participation in the labor market. Nikkei recently reported that the government is mulling a plan to allow foreign trainees to remain in the country for an additional five years. The new residency status will be introduced as early as April 2019.

News source: Nikkei
Jul 21
The proportion of women with children who said they were employed stood at a record high of 70.8 pct in 2017, exceeding 70 pct for the first time, a survey by the labor ministry showed Friday. (Jiji)
Jul 20
Negotiators for the 11 signatories to the Trans-Pacific Partnership have agreed to work toward launching the free trade pact early next year. They also assented to preparing for future membership expansion. (NHK)
Jul 19
The head of the International Monetary Fund says economic growth has started slowing in Japan and the euro zone. (NHK)
Jul 18
Many retailers and consumers in Japan are welcoming the free trade pact with the European Union. They are expecting it to lower prices for a range of gourmet products and provide a boost to the economy. (NHK)
Jul 14
More than three-quarters of Japanese women of prime age to start families are now in the workforce, signaling a break from the long-running trend of mothers quitting jobs to care for newborn babies. (Nikkei)
Jul 13
Japan's government is counting on foreign workers to ease the labor shortage in a range of industries. (NHK)
Jul 10
Japan expects a primary budget deficit of 2.4 trillion yen in fiscal 2025, even if the country's economy grows by 3 pct or higher annually in nominal terms without adjustment with prices, a Cabinet Office estimate showed Monday. (Jiji)
Jul 06
The latest forecast from Japan's government sees GDP growing by about 1.5 percent in fiscal 2019. Officials expect the current recovery to continue even after the planned consumption tax hike to 10 percent in October 2019. (NHK)
Jul 06
Personnel expenses at Japan's large corporations have grown to their highest level in 16 years as a deepening shortage of workers has forced them to increase pay for part-timers. (Nikkei)
Jul 03
Areas popular with foreign tourists in Japan, such as Tokyo, Kyoto and Okinawa Prefecture, have enjoyed strong growth in land prices year on year, a government report showed Monday. (Jiji)